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Zipping through city streets. Popping into parking spaces barely big enough for a Lincoln Navigator‘s front fender. Spending peanuts at the pump.

Maneuverability, ease of parking, and fuel efficiency are among the big advantages of small cars. Often, the disadvantages are cramped interiors and limited cargo space. One thing that almost all small cars aren’t short on is safety these days, though: they share many of the same safety features as the larger counterparts.

Put the practicality of small cars aside for a moment and consider how fun they can be to drive. Remember the Mini Coopers in 2003’s The Italian Jobfor example?

We’ve kept the fun factor of small cars in mind. Inspired by U.S. News & World Report’s list of 15 smallest cars, here are seven of this year’s smallest, most enjoyable cars.

7. 2019 Ford Fiesta

For just $15,790, the five-seater Fiesta stuffs plenty of vitality into a subcompact only 159.7 inches in length. The base model offers a five-speed manual transmission standard and a 120-hp 1.6-liter engine. But the six-speed automatic transmission will yield up to 37 MPG on the highway.

To boost the fun factor, go for the ST variant, which is equipped with a 197-hp turbocharged 1.6-liter engine. Don’t wait to grab this corner-loving little car, however, because this is the last year Ford is making it.

6. 2019 Fiat 124 Spider

Nothing says la dolce vita like a tiny Italian sports car. Built at the same factory as the Mazda Miata MX-5, the 159.6-inch-long Fiat 124 Spider shares engineering with its Japanese cousin. But its 1960s styling adds an Italian flavor.

The two-seater packs the fun in a four-cylinder turbocharged Fiat engine that makes 160 hp for the Classico and Lusso versions and 164 hp for the top-of-the-line Abarth. A standard safety feature for all variants of the Spider is a rearview camera.

As with other small cars designed for the joy of driving, it comes standard with a six-speed transmission. A six-speed automatic is also available. The starting price to drive off with the breeze through your hair in this roadster is $24,995.

5. 2019 BMW i3

In the market for a tiny, zippy EV with unique styling? The four-seat BMW i3 might be just what you need. As the smallest car in BMW’s lineup, the i3 measures only 158.1 inches long. 

At a starting price of $44,450, the i3 isn’t a bargain. But it’s a great little urban commuter car that comes standard with a rearview camera and front and rear parking sensors. Cargo space—a rarity in small cars—is also a big plus here. With the rear seats folded down, the i3 expands to 15.1 cubic feet of trunk space.

And although its electric battery has a range of a paltry 153 miles, the EV’s acceleration is fairly quick: Car and Driver reviewers clocked 6.6 seconds for the zero to 60 mph for the i3. That’s enough pep to keep in-town driving from getting too boring.

3. 2019 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider

Another diminutive, low-slung Italian sports car makes the list. This one’s a bantam mid-engine supercar that does zero to 60 in 4.3 seconds. The Alfa Romeo 4C Spider measures 157 inches long but has a 237-hp turbo four-cylinder engine under its hood. 

Free of infotainment displays or any other tech found in today’s cars, the two-seater Alfa is simple, much like an old-timey roadster. 

As sporty as the Alfa is, it can get up to 34 MPG on the highway. But fuel efficiency still might not offset the $66,900 price tag, unless you have other pricier supercars on your test-drive shortlist.

2. 2019 Mazda Miata MX-5

Although the Miata is the Fiat 124 Spider’s corporate sibling, the two are different enough to merit separate entries on this list. 

The two-seater Mazda is the old-school original that driving enthusiasts have loved for 30 years. It may not have the Fiat’s Italian flair, but it makes up for it with a nimbler 181-hp 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. 

Coming in at 154.1 inches long, the Miata is the smaller sibling. Its styling is classic while the Fiat’s is inspired by the old Fiat 124 Sport Spider that debuted in 1966.

Like the Fiat, the Miata comes with a rearview camera and the six-speed manual transmission standard with an option for the six-speed automatic. Both are agile, great-handling, and lively. But the crisper shifting and the boosted horsepower of the Miata justifies its slightly higher price tag of $25,730.

1. 2019 Mini Cooper Hardtop 2-Door

Starting at $21,900, the playful base model Mini Cooper doesn’t come cheap. But at 151.1 inches long, the Mini offers distinctive looks inside and out plus its signature frisky handling. 

Should you find that the turbocharged 134-hp 1.5-liter three-cylinder engine of the base model isn’t quick enough, the Cooper S and the John Cooper Works versions both have a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 189 hp and 228 hp respectively, 

A hardtop 4-door and a convertible variant are also available.

This year you can opt for tail lights with the Union Jack superimposed on them. With this option comes special LED headlights inspired by the Mini Superleggera Vision concept car a few years back. 

Whether you choose a Mini or another car on this list, it goes to prove that big driving fun can come in a tiny package.


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