These tiny cars take eco-friendly, budget-driving to the extreme! Small or “micro” cars first started appearing commercially in Europe in the 1960s to combat rising populations and street congestion. In places with heavy traffic, a small car is easily maneuverable and also easier to park. Micro cars require fewer resources to manufacture, meaning that the cars themselves are far cheaper to buy. Small engines make micro cars very fuel efficient, and some models like the Smart car are actually fully electric. Need any more inspiration to get a micro car? Check out these popular models from the past and present!
Professionals pursuing auto careers might remember seeing this model being driven around an office building on the popular television show Top Gear. The Peel P50 was one of the first major micro cars to go into production, and is in fact still road legal in the U.K.—if you can get a hold of one. Only 50 were ever produced, and finding them at auctions is pretty rare. The top speed for this tiny vehicle is 60km/hr, with three manual speeds. The P50 had no reverse gear, but a handle on the rear could be used to pull the car. In 2011, a business venture lead to the reboot of the P50 model, which can be purchased in the U.K. today in two different styles.
Another recognizable design from the past is BMW’s Isetta micro car—also the original “bubble car.” An unusual design detail of this vehicle is that the door swings out from the front of the vehicle, rather than opening on the side. Students in mechanic courses may find it interesting that BMW actually used an engine from one of their motorcycles to power this tiny vehicle. Unlike the P50, the Isetta isn’t considered a rarity. In fact in countries like Italy, you can still sometimes spot an Isetta on the streets.
The Tango is a more recent edition to the micro car list. It is marketed as an “ultra-narrow electric sports car”, and is designed by Commuter Cars. The car is so narrow that it can ride beside other small cars in the same lane and takes up one quarter of a regular parking space. This modern micro car is seen as a solution to those who find themselves unnecessarily driving five-seater cars with only one passenger, and taking up much more lane space than is necessary.
But let’s not forget this is a sports car, and it can certainly hold its own. The Tango has 0-60 acceleration in just 3.2 seconds!
Bonus fact: George Clooney and Google CEO Eric Schmidt both own a Tango car.
The Smart car may be the most accessible small car yet. Unlike some of the more unusual micro cars on this list, the Smart car has two doors, four wheels, and a fully electric motor. Contrary to popular belief, these vehicles are 100% legal to drive on highways. Given how common Smart cars are today, Canadian owners are finding it easier to get their vehicle repaired by an automotive service technician, and no longer require specialized services.
If you were to buy a micro car today, which model would you choose?