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The Best 1.0 Litre Cars to Buy In 2024

The Best 1.0 Litre Cars to Buy In 2024

Before the mass adoption of fuel injection, turbocharging, and high compression engines, 1-litre engines were reserved for only the smallest city cars and runabouts.  

Nowadays though, manufacturers are putting these small-capacity engines in bigger and bigger vehicles, and achieving great fuel efficiency with ample power. We’ve rounded up 10 of the best currently on sale today. 

Is it Worth Buying a 1.0 Litre Car?

As we’ve already touched upon, 1.0-litre cars of old - say before the early 2000s - were often slow and underpowered, unless they were in the smallest of economy cars.  

With modern technology though, a 1.0-litre engine can provide over 100hp, which is more than enough for even a medium-sized car. The benefit is that 1.0-litre cars can be extremely fuel efficient, owing to their low engine capacity. 

Is a 1.0 Litre car good for motorway driving?

Although an average 1.0 turbocharged car produces around 80-90 horsepower, we would not recommend a 1.0 litre for regular motorway use. Occasional use however would not be a problem. 

The main issue would be the ability to overtake and accelerate to a reasonable speed for merging from a slip road. 

Cheapest 1.0 Litre Cars

Kia Picanto 1.0 DPi - £12,500

The Picanto has been a popular city car since the first generation in 2003. The newest model has much better exterior styling though, with the first generation looking a little unwieldy even when new.  

Available brand new for £12,500, the Picanto comes with a 1.0 normally aspirated petrol engine, the lack of turbo and small displacement means it suffers in the power department, with only 66 bhp to play with. 

Dacia Sandero 1.0 TCe 90 - £13,800

The first of our cheap cars to feature a turbocharged engine, the Dacia Sandero 1.0 is a far cry from the first Dacias brought to the UK.  

With sharp styling both inside and out, and a good selection of infotainment and tech, the new Sandero would be a great choice for anyone looking for a cheap brand new car.  

With 110 horsepower whilst still achieving over 50 miles to the gallon, it has enough power to not feel dangerous on the road, with the low running costs associated with smaller engined cars.  

Best Fuel Efficient 1.0 Litre Cars

Fiat 500 1.0 MHEV - £12,500

As one of the most common sights on the road in the UK, it's clear the 500 is a popular car, but the 1.2 petrol engine in most of the models up until 2020 was an ageing unit using outdated technology.  

The new 1.0 3-cylinder petrol engine is accompanied by a hybrid system similar to that used in the current Suzuki Ignis Hybrid, which also uses a 12v battery to store the regained energy, rather than a higher voltage dedicated EV battery. 

According to Fiat, the hybrid system allows the 500 MHEV to reach over 60 MPG, making it the most fuel-efficient 1.0-litre car you can buy. 

Most Powerful 1.0 Litre Cars

If power and speed are your priority, the following options are the best bet. 

Ford Puma 1.0T ST-Line - £26,500

Ford brought back the Puma model in 2019, whilst the previous one was a two-door coupe, the new one is a very popular crossover. One of the engine options is the 1.0T EcoBoost, usually mated to a 6-speed manual gearbox - although auto is available too.  

The Puma 1.0T has a spritely 153 bhp, allowing it to reach 60 miles an hour in less than 9 seconds. Pretty reasonable for a medium to large car with a small, 1.0 litre engine.  

Ford Focus 1.0T ST-Line - £26,750

Even though it has the same engine as the Puma ST-Line, the Focus comes with a slightly more fuel-efficient and lower power map on the ECU, allowing it to obtain over 52 MPG instead of the Puma’s 51. 

The Focus comes similarly well equipped though, with a large infotainment screen, dual-zone climate control and cruise control. A 0-60 time of 10.2 seconds is quite a bit slower than the Puma, however. 

Best 1.0 Litre Cars For Families

Should you need more interior space and practicality, these are the best options whilst still only having a 1.0-litre engine.  

SEAT Arona 1.0 TSI - £21,615

The Arona is a medium-sized crossover made by SEAT. Fitted with the 1.0 Volkswagen Audi Group engine, it can achieve 53 MPG despite its more portly size. Styling is typically SEAT, with sharp angles and angular accented grilles and lights.  

Its great fuel efficiency is mainly due to the clever tech packed into its powerplant, utilising an extremely efficient turbocharger setup. The Arona easily accommodates 5 adults in front of a 400-litre boot space, with plenty of room for the family dog and everyone’s wellies!

Volkswagen T-Cross 1.0 TSI - £23,990

As Volkswagen’s smallest SUV/Crossover, the T-Cross suits the innovative 1.0 TSI engine well. Paired with the 6-speed DSG gearbox the T-Cross can achieve 45.6 MPG, which is not as impressive as some of the cars available with the same-sized engine.  

Inside the T-Cross is more stylish than Volkswagens of old, with curved fascias and half-leather seats. Rear space and boot capacity are slightly greater than the Arona, probably due to the more vertical, flat rear shape of the T-Cross. 

MG ZS 1.0 T-GDI - £19,615

As the cheapest of our 1.0-litre family cars, the MG may be best suited for those looking for a roomy car on a budget. The lower purchase price may be a false economy though as the MG cannot reach the same MPG figures as either the T-Cross or the Arona. 

Entertainment and tech on the ZS are competitive though, with the T-GDI Exclusive model in question coming equipped with a 10-inch touchscreen, 360-degree parking camera and Apple Carplay.  

Final thoughts

So, we’ve rounded up quite a large selection of cars, but which is our pick? Well if you’re looking for a small runaround or an ideal first car, we’d suggest the Dacia Sandero 90, as it has the best combination of power and affordability.  

For those looking for a larger car, the Seat Arona is our preference, it has the premium feel of the VW, with the price tag closer to that of the MG, a great compromise considering its sleek looks, too!

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