Here are some of the best city cars of all time
One of the hardest decisions an urban equipment manager has to make is the sacrifice between size and capacity, for practicality and comfort when it comes to driving in densely populated cities. Between narrow streets, limited parking spaces and constant traffic; commuting around town can have a mental and physical impact. For the average consumer, the idea of a city car is not one that begs to be thought about. It’s considerably smaller, more fuel efficient, and generally quirkier than the average car. However, for the average car enthusiast, the thought of buying a subcompact, A-segment, or Kei-class car (depending on what part of the globe you are in) can be seen as a personal insult.
Fortunately, at HotCars we firmly believe that small cars are not only as fun as their larger counterparts, we believe there is no need to make a sacrifice between driving pleasure and travel size restrictions. in the big cities. . Cars like the Mini or the Fiat 500 have proven to several generations that small cars are not objectively worse, they just have their place, more precisely: in densely populated and overcrowded areas. For those who reside in such places, here are some of the best cars for city driving.
Fiat Panda 4×4
Originally introduced in 1980, the Panda’s intention from the start was to redefine the idea of the everyday, dependable vehicle. After 23 years, and nearly 5 million Pandas later, the quest for the humble Fiat is all but over.
Both generations of Panda span 40 years and have countless variations, but none more significant than the MK1 Panda 4×4. Launched in 1983, it has the particularity of being the first small production car with a transverse engine to have a 4-wheel drive system. The Steyr-Puch supplied drivetrain ended up being the heart and soul of the rugged Panda, as its 5-speed gearbox had an ultra-low first gear, allowing it to bypass the need for a transfer case. when driving off-road.
Honda City Turbo
Produced from 1982 to 1986, the City Turbo was one of Honda’s first turbocharged production cars, and Hirotoshi Honda’s result took the buzzing City and turned it into one of the hottest hot hatches. famous in Japan.
At the time, Hirotoshi, the son of Soichiro Honda (the founder of Honda Motor Company), was known in the Japanese racing scene for his success in founding Mugen Motorsports. In the early ’80s, he took the naturally aspirated City and mated its ER engine to an RHB51 turbocharger.
The result was a Honda City capable of producing 99 horsepower at 5,500 rpm with 108 lb-ft of torque. Which might not sound like a lot, and it isn’t, but with a curb weight of around 1,500 pounds, the dynamic City Turbo could accelerate from 0-60 in around 8 seconds. With its eagerly awaited 3,000 rpm powerband, it’s sure to be a sublime experience, especially in metropolitan traffic.
During the 1980s, Suzuki began to develop a reputation for building cars that lacked character. Remember these were very reliable and capable cars, but as a company famous for developing some of the most legendary motorcycles; their four-wheel options seemed to lack the flavor and flair of their motorcycle division.
Enter the Suzuki Cappuccino; a 657cc DOHC three-cylinder, mid-engine, turbocharged kei car weighing just under 1,600 pounds. Even after sticking to the kei car dimensions, the Cappuccino had achieved the mythical 50/50 front-to-rear weight distribution. The well-balanced Cappuccino also produced 63 horsepower at 6,500 rpm; only limited to once again, to comply with Kei automotive standards.
However, the engine was highly tunable, allowing some owners to achieve over 130hp, 100% more power output than factory produced. Its removable roof panels also allowed for more creativity, allowing the Suzuki to convert from a coupe, T-top, targa or convertible. An absolute must when rowing through the gears on your downtown excursion.
Subaru introduced the Sambar microvan in 1961, and after many generations, updates and tweaks; remained a rear-engined, rear-wheel-drive (with a 4WD option) cabover design until it was discontinued in 2012. Where it became a renamed Daihatsu HiJet.
There are many reasons why the Sambar is a great option for city driving, with off-road capabilities. However, it was Subaru’s willingness to try new things that drove this humble van to production for over 50 years. For example, the Sambar was either the only or one of the first microvans to: remain in RR format throughout its life, introduce 4-cylinder engines (unheard of for a vehicle classed as a kei car), use a separate chassis for the body, have four-wheel independent suspension and introduce the cabover design where the passenger cabin is placed above the engine itself.
It’s Subaru’s penchant for engineering and desire to deliver practical vehicles that has helped make the Sambar one of the most versatile microvans ever. while still meeting kei car classifications, making it more than capable of parking in congested cities after a day of off-road driving.
When introduced in 1992, the Twingo was branded as the successor to the Renault 4, a car which lasted 33 years, produced 8 million units and was one of the few cars to bring driving to the masses in France . Designer, Patrick Le Quément was tasked with creating a French icon on a rather shoestring budget of just $700 million, a rather insignificant sum when you consider that most new car developments start at $1 billion.
From its creation, the mantra of the Twingo was to extend the idea of the monospace vehicle, by making it more compact. With clever exterior and interior styling, its aim was to be seen as more than just a people carrier. If the next 19 years were any indication, then it’s safe to say Renault delivered. After selling nearly 2.6 million units and creating one of the oldest models in France, the happy Twingo ceased operations in 2012.
Peugeot 205 GTi 1.9
As we finish our article on the best city cars of all time, the irony is not lost on us that our latest car, the Peugeot 205 GTi, also happens to be one of the greatest cars in this article. Classified as a subcompact, it measures 145 inches bumper-to-bumper, a foot too long by kei car standards.
Although introduced in 1984, the 1.9 liter joined the family in 1987 to critical acclaim. The transversely mounted engine made this sedan capable of 130 bhp, could go from 0 to 60 mph in just over 7 seconds, with a top speed of around 127 mph. Still considered the benchmark hot hatch, the GTi saw its demise with the introduction of strict emissions laws. So the sporty and hot hatch left at sunset in 1994.
Like most classic cars, the GTi 1.9 has risen in value over the past couple of years with pristine models fetching over $40,000. But the good news is that with the average price of a car now reaching over $46,000, you’ll be economy money. Just be sure to keep it handy, with such a fun car you might run into a few traffic light camera tickets in the future.
The Horten brothers designed an advanced aircraft that they hoped would fly from Germany to New York.
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