These cars give new meaning to “compact”

Quick Notes:

– The world is moving towards financially and environmentally friendly cars, and that means going compact (in these cases, 13 feet and under)

– Finding a sleek, compact car is easier than ever, and buying a Prius is no longer the only cool option

– From the Italian-born Fiat Spider to the latest Smart car, the global market is churning out compact vehicles at a rapid clip

The global pool of drivers is increasingly aware that our vehicles tend to spew nasty stuff into the air — looking at you, Ford Excursion. Others are simply putting their wallets ahead of any urges they may have to roll on 22-inch rims, going smaller to save on gas. Regardless of the buyer’s motivation, small cars are in, and as the years have passed, the compact vehicle has evolved.

As most trends go, small cars have just gotten smaller, and smaller, and smaller. It’s become a real-life, never-ending episode of Honey, I Shrunk the Cars. So we wondered, which road-legal cars come closest to imitating a Hot Wheel?

We dove a bit deeper to find the ten smallest cars on the market, bumper to bumper, that you’ll find sold in dealerships in 2019. Hold on, things could get tiny.

10. 2019 Fiat 124 Spider

It’s fitting that the 2019 Fiat 124 Spider bears the name that it does. Spiders tend to be quite compact, after all, as is this zippy little sports car from the Italian automaker. With a length of 159.6 inches (just a bit over 13 feet), you’ll be able to fit this ‘roadster with street cred’ into the most unreasonably small parking spaces you can find.


9. 2019 BMW i3

The 2019 BMW i3 is the latest in a long line of sleek, sexy BMW I Models to take roads the world over by storm. That said, the i3 ain’t your poppa’s i Model, as its body is more reminiscent of something you’d see on the Jetsons rather than a BMW assembly line. It’s definitely one of the smallest cars on the market, with a frame that’s a meager 158.1 inches long, making it an ideal vehicle for those who want to slash their gas bill without sacrificing much horsepower.

8. 2019 Mini Cooper Hardtop 4-Door 

Ever since the legendary Mini Cooper heist scene in the Italian Job remake, the dainty little automobile brand has inspired less “what is that?” and more “I want that”. Mini Cooper has always made stylish cars, but those cars never fit with the ‘bigger is better’ aesthetic of the 90s and early 200s, especially in America. But now that small is back in style, the 2019 Mini Cooper Hardtop 4-Door — which measures in at 157.4 inches — has some serious curb appeal.

7. 2019 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider

We’re not even five cars deep into the list, and already we’ve got our second appearance from a Spider. Alfa Romeo’s version of the eight-legged automobile is even more compact than the Fiat 124 Spider. This metallic arachnid’s body runs a mere 157 inches long. You may not think that a mere 2.6-inch difference matters between the Fiat and Alfa Romeo, but that 2.6 inches could come in handy someday — you never know how!


6. 2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata

(Bruce Buffer voice): And now, coming in at a svelte 154.1 inches…the 2019 Maaazdaaa MX-5 Miaaaataaaaa! (crowd goes absolutely wild).

Mazda has been making drivers (often sarcastically) say Zoom Zoom for quite some time now. The 2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata allows its drivers to zoom zoom without the doom/gloom of emitting massive amounts of carbon  thanks at least in part, to its compact frame.

5. 2019 Mini Cooper Hardtop 2-Door

It should come by no surprise that the Mini Cooper Hardtop 2-Door is one of the smallest cars on the market. It measures in shorter than its four-door counterpart…by only 6.3 inches. You’d think a couple of extra doors would account for more than a measly 6.3 inches, wouldn’t you?

Apparently that’s not the case, as the 2-Door Mini Cooper Hardtop spans 151.1 inches from front to back, compared with the 157.4-inch body of the four-door version of the car.

4. 2019 Mitsubishi Mirage

Mitsubishi has put out a car that is so miraculously compact that you might swear you were looking at a…mirage. Is that low-hanging fruit, or what? At 149.4 inches from front to back, the Mirage isn’t necessarily going to fit the whole family, but it will definitely pack more mileage into every tank of gas you purchase.


3. 2019 Chevrolet Spark

Chevy has leaned heavily into the compact car market, catering to those who want to go places without slaves to Big Gas. At 143.1 inches from bumper to bumper, the 2019 Chevrolet Spark makes a Chevy Malibu look like a limousine.

2. 2019 Fiat 500

Fiat has made its imprint on the global car buyer market by embracing small. But this small? This is one of the smallest cars on the market, and nearly the smallest car on the market. At 135.9 inches long, the Fiat 500 probably should have been more aptly named the Fiat 135.9.

1. 2019 Smart EQ Fortwo

You had to know that a tiny little Smart car model was awaiting you at the head of this list, didn’t you? Nobody has managed to out-shrink Smart when it comes to manufacturing road-legal tiny cars, even after all these years. The first Smart vehicle was released in 1998, and it’s been the vehicle choice of those who just can’t get enough small in their lives ever since.

A deeper dive — Related reading from the 101: 

5 ways to reduce your carbon footprint I Living 101

…By buying one of the ten cars on this list, for starters.

Flying cars might soon be a reality I Science 101

Could The Jetsons soon become a work of nonfiction?