- Stylish, affordable and economical designs
- Space for friends and gear
- Capable audio systems
Not all car shoppers can be satisfied with vanilla sedans and SUVs. Sedans are for old people; SUVs are unnecessarily rugged and too inefficient for city life. Young urbanites need alternatives that are funky enough to be hip but functional enough to accommodate their lifestyles. These top five rides for hipsters combine uncommon styling, ample space and efficiency, and quality audio systems to crank out the latest obscure tunes.
Like some great bands, the 500 was a hit in Europe before reaching these shores. The tiny, city-oriented 4-seater marks FIAT’s return to the U.S. after a decades-long absence. Hipsters should rejoice as the high-style 500, available in 14 colors, is the perfect skinny jeans complement. Its 12-foot length makes it maneuverable in the city, yet the folding rear seats allow up to 30.1 cubic feet of cargo space, the equivalent volume of 22 vinyl record crates. Queue Fitz & The Tantrums up on your iPod and run it through the 6-speaker audio system with subwoofer. Hands-free is included, too. The 500 starts at an affordable $15,500, but go for the Sport trim over the base 500 Pop. For an extra $1000, you’ll get sportier handling and alloy wheels. The 500 is rated at 30 mpg in the city, 38 on the highway.
Act quickly on the Veloster before everyone hears about this slightly oddball, asymmetrical gem. The Veloster sports two doors on the passenger side and one on the driver’s, but overall the styling is that of a sleek, two-door hatchback. This car’s price is the middle ground of our list, starting at $18,060. At $20,060 with the essential Technology package, the Veloster is loaded with 7-speaker Dimension audio with an external amp and subwoofer, touch screen navigation and a backup camera that’s like TV on the Radio. With the rear seats in use, the 5-passenger Veloster can fit the equivalent of 11 record crates, or about 25 with the seats down. Fuel economy ratings are 28-mpg city and 32-highway.
With a base price of $28,145, the A3 is the most expensive car on this list. It may be best suited for the hipster with a real job, or at least a grant to create a large art installation. But the Audi is worth even the $31,125 sticker price of the A3 TDI Premium. It’s a symbol of cool success, more Eames chair than throne. The diesel-powered TDI version gets 30 mpg in the city, an excellent 42 mpg highway, and goes well with a trucker hat. You’ll be a Yeasayer for the 10-speaker audio system with aux inputs, but for Bluetooth you’ll have to also affirm a $600 option group that includes a power driver’s seat and multi-function steering wheel. The A3 can swallow the equivalent of 14 record crates with the back seat in use, the best in this company, and 28 crates with the seats folded. If opting for the $1100 panoramic roof, be sure to use the shade to avoid sun damage to any rare vinyl onboard.
The low-price champ and second asymmetrical vehicle on the list is Nissan’s versatile Cube. The boxy and bubbly design is certainly unique, especially since the Honda Element left the scene. It starts at just $15,500, but upgrading to the $16,860 S version is necessary to replace a two-speaker stereo. The 6-speaker unit is iPod-ready, Bluetooth-capable, and will do LCD Soundsystem justice. The five-passenger Cube may also be the most utilitarian car in the group. It boasts just 8 record crates of space with the rear seat in use, but volume explodes to 58.1 cubic feet with the seats down, equivalent to 42 record crates. The rectangular shape that accommodates so much cargo hurts fuel economy, but it’s still acceptable at 25 mpg city, 30 mpg highway.
Like the Veloster, the Mini Clubman boasts a single door on one side and two on the other. The stretched version of the standard Mini Cooper offer a bit more room and split, side-hinged rear doors instead of a hatchback, like a tiny Chevy Suburban. The Clubman starts at an affordable $21,900. The $27,600 Clubman S with Mini’s Technology package delivers similar versatility and economy to the base model, but adds sporting performance, MiniConnected internet and connectivity functionality, and a 10-speaker, 4-subwoofer Harman Kardon audio to blast Youth Lagoon tunes. Despite being about a foot longer than the Fiat 500, the Clubman has only a bit more cargo space-seven record crates of space with the back seat up or 24 with it down. Still, this Mini offers performance without sacrificing economy, with city/highway ratings of 27/35 mpg.
What it means to you:
These five affordable and economical cars can get you and your stuff around town quickly and stylishly. Unlike your fixie or the subway, each can make the road trip to Austin or Brooklyn, whichever is not currently home.