If you Must Own a Car, Make it a Small Car

Here’s a few reasons a small car is cheaper to run, more efficient and a better choice for the environment- without sacrificing too much comfort

small car

It feels great when you replace a car journey with one by foot or bike. Reducing the time you spend driving your own vehicle helps you to keep your carbon emissions down, save money and keep fit. But sometimes, having that extra set of wheels is necessary. There are plenty of ways you can become a greener and more efficient driver, and one of the biggest differences you can make is by switching to a smaller car. Here’s a few reasons why smaller sized cars are cheaper to run, more efficient and a better choice for the environment.

Once you’ve passed your first few years as a young driver and your insurance costs start to become more affordable, the first step is often to sell that 1.0 litre banger and upgrade to something bigger and smarter. While many people need larger cars to support their lifestyle- kids, disability, hobbies etc, for many, a large car is bought as a reflection of income and status. But while giving up on luxuries isn’t always the answer, there are an awful lot of reasons why a smaller car is a smarter choice.


 The difference between the emissions of the best and worse cars on the market is huge. Some modern city cars now emit just 100 grammes of emissions per kilometre, while there are still larger executive cars out there which release a whopping 200 grammes over the same distance. Lightweight cars with smaller engines work far less hard, keeping their emissions down, and should be a serious factor to consider if you aim to lower your emissions personally.


 One of the most popular reasons why people buy small cars is their fuel economy. Modern small cars such as the Citroen C3 1.4 e-HDI have an official mpg of 83.0 and can realistically achieve 70.3 mpg in good conditions. Other well performing small cars include the Ford Fiesta 1.6 TDCI Econetic, achieving 62.1 mpg when tested by What Car and the Vauxhall Corsa 1.3 CDTI Ecoflex proving itself to achieve 61.4 mpg when tested.

Though a large part of fuel efficiency comes down to driving style itself, having a small car can get you well on your way to saving fuel. In contrast to the small cars mentioned above, executive cars find it difficult to have the same kind of fuel economy. The Mercedes S350 Bluetec- a luxury car packed with efficiency boosting measures, only manages a 37.3 mpg. Better than many, but a poor choice if you really want to make a difference.

Cost to maintain

 Small cars are well known for being cheaper to maintain and find spare parts for. Smaller engines are low maintenance and generally only require an oil change every 3000 miles or so. Large, luxury cars are often more expensive to maintain and even ordering parts can sometimes be more costly and time consuming.

Driving experience

 Modern hatchbacks and super minis are built to be practical and economic, but they are often also designed to be stylish and fun to drive, which makes them a popular choice with all kinds of drivers. Small cars such as the Ford Fiesta are agile and responsive to handle, combining comfort and fun, making driving enjoyable on motorways or around town. Choosing the 1.0L EcoBoost engine gives you the power and performance of a 1.6 litre, with the economy of one which is far smaller. Small cars like the Fiesta tend to be more nimble and responsive thanks to their lighter weight, and with today’s advances in engine technology, a 1.0L vehicle no longer has to feel slow, sluggish or boring.


 Buying a small car doesn’t mean sacrificing comfort, luxury or technology. In fact, buying a smaller car makes your money go further, and can make it easier to afford optional extras or a more comfortable interior. Popular small cars such as the Ford Fiesta, the Mini and the Fiat 500 all come with the option of luxury trim levels which include leather seats and gadgets such as inbuilt navigation systems, audio systems, Bluetooth, heated seats and digital radios. Manufacturers more well-known for their luxury such as Audi, Mercedes, BMW and Volvo all now produce luxury hatchbacks which allow you to combine the luxury of a larger car with the convenience, efficiency and economy of something smaller. So there’s no need to completely sacrifice comfort, or even your favourite gadgets, to make your drive a greener one.

Image sourced: David Basanta

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