In a car, lightness is almost always synonymous with sportiness or low fuel consumption, but also with a basic city car that dispenses with sometimes superfluous additional equipment.
However, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find lightweight cars on price lists, due to the widespread presence of electrification and battery systems, as well as numerous mandatory and optional safety systems.
Motor1.com has decided to compile a ranking of the lightest cars sold in Europe, divided into a first list for mass-produced models and a second list reserved for those produced in limited production runs.
Mass production cars
Limited run cars
The champion of mass-produced lightweight cars sold in Europe is the Suzuki Ignis, in particular the Hybrid 2WD version in GLE trim, which has an EU kerb weight (with all fluids, fuel tank 90% full and driver 75 kg) of just 935 kg.
Japanese city car with 82 bhp 1.2-litre light hybrid engine, front-wheel drive and five-speed manual transmission claims a top speed of 103 mph (165 km/h), acceleration from 0-62 mph in 14 seconds and an average fuel consumption of 56.5 mpg (5.0 litres per 100 kilometres).
There is a clarification here, because in Spain the Renault Twingo is only sold in an electric version (heavier), but in other countries, such as Italy, it is also available with the 64 bhp 1.0-litre SCE petrol engine, which is precisely the version that weighs 940 kg, just five kg more than the Ignis.
The naturally aspirated, three-cylinder engine provides rear-wheel drive with a five-speed manual gearbox. Top speed is 98 mph (158 km/h) and 0-62 mph acceleration time is 15.1 seconds, while combined WLTP fuel consumption is 55.4 mpg (5.1 litres per 100 km).
Not well known on the Old Continent, but equal to the Twingo on the scales is the Mitsubishi Space Star, which in its basic 1.2-litre version also weighs 940 kg.
Mitsubishi Space Star
This is a five-door city car with a 70 bhp 1.2-litre petrol engine, combined with front-wheel drive and a five-speed manual gearbox. The car reaches a top speed of 104 mph (167 km/h) and accelerates from 0-60 mph in 14.1 seconds. Average fuel consumption is 56.5 mpg (5.0 litres per 100 km).
Slightly heavier at 965 kg is the Suzuki Swift which has the same 82 bhp light hybrid powertrain as the Ignis. It is therefore also front-wheel drive and comes with a five-speed manual gearbox.
The Japanese five-door hatchback claims a top speed of 109 mph (175 km/h) and acceleration from 0-60 in 12 seconds. These are the best performances in this 'top 5' of series production cars, plus the winner in combined fuel consumption: 60.1 mpg (4.7 litres per 100 km).
Closing the first 'featherweight' ranking is the Kia Picanto, which in its base variant with the 66 bhp 1.0-litre DPi engine weighs just 978 kg.
Naturally, it has front-wheel drive and a five-speed manual gearbox. In terms of performance, the Picanto is clocked at 100 mph (161 km/h), 0-60 in 14.6 seconds and has a combined WLTP fuel consumption of 56.5 mpg (5.0 litres per 100 km).
The king of lightness among small series production cars is the Caterham Seven, which, in the 170 version, weighs just 440 kg on the scales. For the English sports car, as for all its rivals in this ranking, it is not clear whether the unladen weight is with or without driver, but here in particular it is the latter.
Caterham Seven 170 R
With this very low weight and the turbocharged Suzuki engine of 660 cm3 and 83 bhp, the Caterham Seven 170 reaches a top speed of 106 mph (170 km/h), accelerates from 0-60 in 6.9 seconds and records a combined fuel consumption of 58.9 mpg (4.8 litres per 100 km).
In this ranking of ultra-lightweight cars, almost all of which are of British origin, there is also a place for the BAC Mono single-seater, which weighs just 555 kg.
This very low mass, combined with a 305 bhp 2.5-litre naturally aspirated engine, allows the single-seater (hence the name) to reach 170 mph (273 km/h) and accelerate from 0-62 mph in just 2.8 seconds.
There are two seats in the Ariel Atom, albeit a little cramped, and the almost total absence of bodywork on the tubular chassis leaves the curb weight at 595 kg.
Honda's 2.0-litre turbo engine (the same as the Civic Type R) develops 315 bhp and takes the Atom to 162 mph (260 km/h) and 0-60 mph in just 2.8 seconds.
The small Somerset-based manufacturer also offers another very light, but off-road focused model. The Ariel Nomad uses the minimalist construction principle of the Atom, but with an integral safety cage, suspension and off-road wheels. Despite this configuration, it weighs 670 kg.
Powered by the 235 bhp 2.4-litre Honda engine, the Nomad records a top speed of 125 mph (201 km/h) and takes 3.4 seconds to reach 62 mph from a standstill.
Rounding off this list is the amazing Spartan, the small Australian two-seater with a tubular frame and carbon fibre bodywork that weighs just 680 kg in its basic version.
The rear engine is the 271 bhp 2.4-litre Honda engine, whose power is channelled to the rear through a six-speed manual gearbox. The car clocks a top speed of 174 mph (280 km/h) and accelerates from 0-60 in just 3.3 seconds.