The Best 1 Litre Cars to Buy In 2024

The Best 1 Litre Cars to Buy In 2024

Before the mass adoption of fuel injection, turbocharging, and high compression engines, 1-litre engines were considered city cars and runabout vehicles. 

Nowadays, manufacturers are putting these small-capacity engines in bigger and bigger vehicles and achieving great fuel efficiency with ample power. Now 1-litre cars can compete, despite their engine size.  

Curious? We’ve rounded up the best 1-litre engine cars currently on sale today. Scroll down to get inspired and find out why a 1L car could be a match for you! 

What is a 1-litre car? 

A 1-litre car has a 1,000cc engine — one of the smallest on the market.  

Car engine size refers to the volume of cylinders in the engine and is expressed in litres of cubic centimetres (cc).  

Naturally, a 4-litre engine has more power than a 1-litre engine. But don’t discount 1L cars. These smaller engines provide good fuel economy and they can drive quite fast if the car doesn’t weigh too much. 

We’ve researched the best 1-litre engine cars so you don’t have to. We’ve also separated our findings into sub-categories to help you find the right motor. These categories include: 

  • Cheapest 1.0 Litre Cars 
  • Best Fuel Efficient 1.0 Litre Cars 
  • Most Powerful 1.0 Litre Cars 
  • Best 1.0 Litre Cars For Families 

After our list, you’ll find a few common 1L car FAQs and expert answers. Think of this blog as your complete 1L engine buying guide!  

Cheapest 1.0 Litre Cars 

Save money without sacrificing your ride. Here are the most affordable 1L cars. 

1. Kia Picanto 1.0 DPi - £15,595

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

For a budget-friendly price of £15,595, the Picanto offers a brand-new experience. Equipped with a 1.0 normally aspirated petrol engine, it may not be the most powerful, but it's a testament to the Picanto's practicality and value for money, delivering a respectable 66 bhp.  

2. Dacia Sandero 1.0 TCe 90 - £13,795 

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.   

3. Suzuki Celerio 1.0 - £8,889 

Designed for city driving, the Suzuki Celerio 1.0 is a small hatchback that’s affordable to buy and run.  

The Celerio isn’t on sale as a new car anymore, but there are plenty of high-quality, pre-loved models floating about. With an average cost of £8,889 and an annual road tax of £190, this is an excellent pick if you want a cheap motor. You can even find ones as low as £4,200 if you research well enough.  

The Celerio boasts a solid reliability record, low CO2 emissions, and spacious interiors. It’s not super fast, but if you’re looking for a city car, that’s likely not an issue. 

Best Fuel Efficient 1.0 Litre Cars 

Concerned about fuel efficiency? Here are some options to consider. 

4. Fiat 500 1.0 MHEV - £16,800 

As one of the most common sights on the road in the UK, the 500 is clearly 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. This system also uses a 12v battery rather than a higher-voltage dedicated EV battery to store the regained energy.  

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

5. Volkswagen Up! - £13,750 

The Volkswagen Up! is a popular 1L car for new drivers, and it’s well-known for its excellent performance in turns, bends, and corners.  

However, these cars also boast great fuel economy, especially the options with Bluemotion Technology. These models are also fitted with engine stop-start to reduce fuel consumption and low rolling resistance tyres. We like the sound of that! 

Want to go eco? Volkswagen also produces the VW e-Up! Models that have all-electric engines.  

Most Powerful 1.0 Litre Cars 

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

6. Ford Puma 1.0T ST-Line - £26,565 

Ford brought back the Puma model in 2019. The previous one was a two-door coupe, but the new one is a 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. This is pretty reasonable for a medium to large car with a small 1.0-litre engine.   

7. Ford Focus 1.0T ST-Line - £28,500

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

Best 1.0 Litre Cars For Families 

These are the best options for interior space and practicality whilst still only having a 1.0-litre engine.   

8. SEAT Arona 1.0 TSI - £22,450,615 

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 five adults in front of a 400-litre boot space, with plenty of room for the family dog and everyone’s wellies! 

9. Volkswagen T-Cross 1.0 TSI - £23,975 

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 cars with the same-sized engine.   

Inside, the T-Cross is more stylish than old Volkswagens, 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.  

10. MG ZS 1.0 T-GDI - £18,335 

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 being equipped with a 10-inch touchscreen, 360-degree parking camera, and Apple Carplay.   

Is it Worth Buying a 1.0 Litre Car? 

Yes, 1L engine cars are worth the purchase. 

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, 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 vehicles can be extremely fuel efficient, owing to their low engine capacity. 

Is a 1.0 Litre car good for motorway driving? 

No, one-litre cars aren’t great for frequent motorway use. 

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.  

What is the best 1-litre car to buy? 

The best 1-litre car depends on your personal preferences. 

To understand which of the best 1L cars suits you, ask yourself the following questions: 

  • How much can I spend? 
  • Do I want to prioritise fuel efficiency? 
  • Do I need space for family and friends? 
  • What speed do I need? 

These questions help you narrow down your search criteria and guarantee that your final decision aligns with your lifestyle. Go slow and enjoy the research process! 

Is a 1-litre engine slow? 

No, today 1-litre engines can go faster than you’d think. 

Of course, they’re not as fast or powerful as a 2.0 or 4.0L engine. However, they can reach higher speeds and zip around faster than older models. 

The drawback of 1 L engines is that they take longer to accelerate and reach higher speeds. This also uses up more petrol. So, motorway driving can be expensive and not so fuel efficient. 

Bumper’s 1.0L car recommendation 

So, we’ve rounded up quite a large selection of cars, but which is our pick? 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, which is a great compromise considering its sleek looks, too! 

Final thoughts on the best 1-litre cars 

Did any of the 1L-engine cars catch your eye? With plenty of models to fit all needs, examining 1.0 cars can be overwhelming. After all, they all have unique benefits and innovative features.  

Hopefully, our list has introduced you to the best 1L cars and answered a few burning questions. Save this page so you don’t lose our recommendations! 

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