The 10 coolest microcars ever made

21st February 2024
Russell Campbell

Cars like the Renault Twizy and Citroën Ami could make you think microcars (or quadricycles) are a relatively new invention, but they've been around for years, catering for people looking for a car that's easy to drive and affordable. These are the ten coolest microcars ever made.


1. Peel P50

The Peel P50 introduced the idea of microcars to a whole new generation after Jeremy Clarkson drove one into the old BBC headquarters in West London. In his unique style, taking it down corridors, through offices and onto lifts, Clarkson demonstrated exactly why people buy microcars.

Made on the Isle of Man from 1962 to 1965, the three-wheeled P50 is the world's smallest car in the Guinness Book of Records. It's so tiny it doesn't need a reverse gear; instead, you physically drag it backwards using a handle on the rear bumper. 


2. Estrima Biro

The Estrima Biro reignited the microcar craze. Italian-built, the Biro costs half the price of a normal car; it is electric, so it avoids emissions charges and, at 1,700mm long and 1,080mm wide, you can park it pretty much anywhere, usually for less than you'll pay for a normal car.

Power comes from an individual electric on each rear wheel, producing 5.2PS (3.8kW) for a top speed of 37mph. Four disc brakes ensure stopping power far outways forward momentum, though a chassis built like a roll cage means the Biro is safer than a scooter. The Biro's easy to charge if you live in a flat thanks to a removable battery that you can pull along like a cabin bag.


3. Citroën Ami Buggy

The Citroën Ami Buggy answers a question no one asked – it's a beach-ready version of a microcar ordinally found in the city. With knobby tyres, rugged plastic body protection and metal bars where you'd expect to see doors, it's designed to take a pounding on the beach. The question is – how do you get to the sand? With a top speed of 31mph and a range of just 46 miles, the Ami doesn't lend itself to long drives to the coast.

It's probably best that Citroën only plans to sell 100 examples here. But while the Ami Buggy is un-arguably silly, that doesn't stop us from wanting one.


4. Fiat Topolino

The Fiat Topolino is a Citroën Ami in an Italian suit, giving people put off by the youthful colour schemes and stickers of the French car a retro-styled alternative that looks like a Fiat 500 that an articulated lorry has rear-ended. It's cute if unconventional, and the production model gets bonus points for having actual doors instead of the rope barriers of the concept car.

As with the AMI, the Topolino has a 31mph top speed and a 46-mile range that makes it ideal for inner-city commuting, and, of course, it's incredibly easy to park.


5. Micro Mobility Microlino

The Estrima Biro brought the microcar to a new generation of buyers looking for a car that can avoid paying emissions and parking charges. It has since been joined by Citroën Ami et al, and now Micro Mobility's announced its Microlino is coming to the UK. 

The Rolls Royce of the microcar world, the Microlino has a sophisticated (by microcar standards) monocoque chassis, aluminium body panels and independent suspension all around. It's also easy to get into via the front of the car that swings open hinges. Downsides? It's likely to cost nearly double the price of a Citroën Ami.


6. BMW Isetta

If you picture a classic microcar in your head, chances are the car in question is the Isetta, whose egg-shaped profile is where the term 'bubble car' originates. Isetta sold the car under licence worldwide in countries as diverse as the UK, Germany, Spain, Brazil and Argentina. 

A BMW Isetta was the first mass-produced car to break the 3l/km fuel economy barrier, translating to a galactic 94mpg in old money. Power came from a single-cylinder 250cc motorbike engine producing 12PS (9kW). BMW comprehensively re-engineered its car from the original Iso Isetta, adding headlights built into the doors and new front suspension.


7. Renault Twizy

If you want to get the looks of a supercar on a pound-shop budget, the Renault Twizy is your best option. Thanks to its bit-part body, exposed wheels and tandem seats, it looks like nothing else on the road. Its name, meanwhile, comes from the contraction of "twin" (for its two seats) and "easy" (because it's straightforward to drive).

With a top speed of 50mph and a 50-mile range, the Twizy goes faster and further than most modern-day alternatives, although the lack of doors (they're optional) and a heater mean your endurance might limit you before the car does. 


8. Heinkel Kabine 153

The Heinkel Kabine comes from the golden era of microcars that covered the late '50s and early '60s. It shares much of its design with the Isetta, including its front-opening entry, but without the Italian firm's patented steering wheel, which moved out the way when you opened the door.

The Kabine (or 'cabin' in German) has a conventional two-seater layout with a folding fabric roof that doubles as an escape hatch. Power comes from your choice of single-cylinder engines producing up to 10PS (7kW), and the Kabin is one of few classic microcars to boast a reverse gear.


9. Toyota C+Pod

With automatic emergency brakes (that detect cars, people and cyclists) and crumple zones, the Toyota C+Pod could claim to be your safest option in a microcar class that's not famed for its sturdiness.

Power comes from a 9.2kW electric motor that drives the rear wheels with a 9kWh battery that gives a cruising range of more than 90 miles. Inside, it feels like a conventional car with a proper dashboard and individual front seats. While equipment is minimal, the Toyota has a clever trick – you can use its battery as an external electricity source during power outages


10. Goggomobil Dart

The Buckle Motors Goggomobil Dart is the sports car of microcars thanks to its stylish looks, open-top roof and impressive (relatively speaking) performance that will see it hit 65mph with an open throttle and no shortage of bravery.

Based on the German Goggomobil microcar, just 700 examples of the Australian-made Dart were built. Power comes from a rear-mounted 392cc, two-cylinder, two-stroke engine that rattles out an impressive 18.5PS (13.6kW) to spirit along the 345kg microcar's lightweight fibreglass body.

  • Road

  • News

  • List

  • Best

  • Goggomobil

  • Dart

  • Toyota

  • C+Pod

  • Heinkel

  • Kabine 153

  • Renault

  • Twizy

  • BMW

  • Isetta

  • Micro Mobilirt

  • Microlino

  • Fiat

  • Topolino

  • Citroen

  • Ami Buggy

  • Estrima

  • Biro

  • Peel

  • P50

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