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Posts Tagged ‘subcompact cars’

Fiat Rolls Out New Version of 500c

Brand looks to play on history to draw buyers.

by on Apr.15, 2015

FCA introduced its 2015 Fiat 500c 1957 Edition hatchback and cabrio models.

The Fiat 500 has earned more than its share of plaudits for its eye-catching design.

The car is instantly recognizable and has certain curb appeal long absent from workaday sedans. But even Fiat Chrysler Automobile diehards admit privately that the 500 is probably too small for the typical American consumer, who wants more room and more power.

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But the car’s diminutive size hasn’t stopped marketing experts at FCA US from making a valiant effort to sell new and different versions of the 500 to American customers. The latest version, which is making its debut in time for spring and summer when the interest in top-down driving peaks, is the new 1957 Edition Cabrio with its soft top. (more…)

Elio Forces Feds to Set Autocycle Rules

New legislation develops guidelines for three-wheelers.

by on Mar.13, 2015

Elio Motors new three-wheeler is causing lawmakers to write new legislation governing autocycles.

An autocycle?

It’s a vehicle classification that most folks don’t give much thought, but 26 states have laws or are developing them, for three-wheeled, enclosed vehicles otherwise known as autocycles.

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Perhaps the best known of the group currently is the Elio from Elio Motors, which touts 84 mpg for just $6,800 with the bonus of being American made: in a former General Motors plant in Shreveport, Louisiana. (more…)

Nissan Hopes to Sway Small Car Buyers with New Concept

Nissan Sway concept expected to reappear as the next Nissan Micra.

by on Feb.25, 2015

The Nissan Sway concept is believed to be a close-to-production design tease for the next Micra.

Nissan is out to prove that big things really can come in small packages, the maker offering up a first teaser image of the new Sway concept vehicle it plans to unveil at the Geneva Motor Show next week.

The small hatchback is expected to be a thinly disguised version of the next-generation Micra, according to several sources spoke with. The Nissan Sway concept underscores the increasingly competitive nature of the minicar market, particularly in Europe, where buyers expect many of the same features, and much the same level of creature comfort, as they’d get in larger products.

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“Sway is a glimpse at how a future generation of small Nissan models could look if the company’s striking new design language was applied to a European hatchback,” Nissan said in a short release accompanying the teaser image.


Kia Soul Tops List of Must-Have Cars in the City

Surprisingly, Smart ForTwo doesn’t make Top 10.

by on Aug.12, 2014

Kia's 2014 Soul was named the top choice for city dwellers due to its ride-and-handling as well as its convenience features.

Many folks imagine that once you move to a large urban center, like New York or Chicago, that the need for a car evaporates; however, the reality is that city denizens need to get around and that means hundreds of thousands of vehicles are clogging those streets.

If you’re going to have a car in the city, it needs to be small enough to squeeze into tight spots, turn around in small spaces, yet be able to carry lots of stuff. Fortunately, the folks at have compiled a list of what they believe to be the 10 best cars for city dwellers.

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The website’s top pick is the 2014 Kia Soul and not because it’s so easy to drive even a hamster can do it. According to the website, the Soul’s ride-and-handling, abundance of convenience features, such as heated front and rear seats as well as a heated steering wheel – features typically found on pricier rides – combined with Kia’s Android-based UVO multimedia system made it the best ride. (more…)

Smart Offers First Tease of New Fortwo and Forfour Models

Look for official launch in Paris later this year.

by on Jul.09, 2014

Daimler is providing a little glimpse at its Smart microcars, the Smart Fortwo and Forfour, in this rendering in advance of the Paris Motor Show.

After a seemingly endless delay, Daimler’s microcar division, Smart, is finally getting ready to roll out two all-new models that, it hopes, will pump some life into the struggling brand.

While we won’t get a first look at the sheet metal until the upcoming Paris Motor Show, Smart has offered some teaser images of the new Fortwo and Forfour models – some rough exterior renderings, as well as close-ups of a few interior and exterior details.

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We’ve also gotten a sense of what’s coming, not from Smart, but from Renault, the French automaker that partnered up with Daimler AG and has taken lead in the development of not just the two new Smart microcars, but also the Renault Twingo that made its own debut, last March, at the Geneva Motor Show. (more…)

Ford Reveals New Urban Car– er, Ka Concept

How small is too small? Ford tests the waters.

by on Nov.14, 2013

Ford brings back an old name in the form of the Brazilian-designed Ka Concept.

How small is too small? That’s something Ford is trying to find out with the unveiling of its Ka concept, a microcar design developed in Brazil that it hopes will gain some traction around the world in one of the auto industry’s fastest-growing market segments.

A good bit smaller than the current Fiesta model, the Ford concept revives a name first used on one of the maker’s more eccentric offerings in the late 1990s and targets a subcompact segment estimated to reach 6.2 million sales annually by 2017.

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The Ford Ka Concept is the second recent model developed by Ford’s Brazilian studio, following the new EcoSport that is rolling into showrooms from South American to Shanghai.

“Ford has a long history in Brazil, bringing development, jobs and growth to the region,” said the maker’s Chairman Bill Ford. “As an integral part of our global growth strategy, we are committed to bringing world-class products to Brazil and to helping the region create global vehicles for the rest of the world.”


Mini Might Add Three More Models

Little Rocketman is one option, though British brand could get bigger options, too, execs hint.

by on Feb.05, 2013

Mini may yet bring the Rocketman to production.

With the new Paceman coming onboard, Mini will now offer a total of seven different models – never mind all the variants it is delivering to showrooms around the world. But the maker is far from done as it fleshes out its line-up, company officials say.

If anything, “Our management has said that in the future a full line-up of vehicles for the brand could be 10 models,” suggested David Duncan, Mini USA’s sales director, during a conversation in Puerto Rico, where the Paceman is getting its first media drive.

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Exactly what’s in store, Duncan and other Mini team members weren’t ready to discuss – beyond hinting they’re looking to fill “any segment that makes sense for a small car.”

In fact, small is apparently a relative term for the British maker, a subsidiary of Germany’s BMW.  Mini delivered a shock to many traditionalists when it introduced the Countryman, a couple years back, not only the first four-door model and the first with all-wheel-drive but also the brand’s biggest offering ever.


Mazda Will Build New Small Car for Toyota

Mazda Mexico plant could prove replacement for Toyota Yaris.

by on Nov.09, 2012

Mazda will produce a small car based on this Mazda2 for Toyota.

Toyota plans to team up with erstwhile Japanese rival Mazda to produce a new small car that would either replace or share the mini-car market with the Japanese giant’s existing Yaris model.

The new model, the two makers today confirmed, will be based on the same platform as the little Mazda2 and will be produced at the factory Mazda is now building in Mexico.

The announcement underscores the shifting strategies redefining the auto industry. Long determined to do just everything on its own, Toyota has been rapidly inking an assortment of alliances with traditional competitors like Ford, BMW, and now Mazda.

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For the smaller Japanese maker, the move could be equally significant.  The current Mazda2 was developed as part of a long-running alliance with Ford Motor Co. But the U.S. maker has steadily wound down that relationship since Alan Mulally signed on as CEO six years ago, leaving Mazda searching for a new partner.


Kia Rio Wins Subcompact Sedan Shoot-Out

But Consumer Reports slams Toyota Yaris.

by on Mar.22, 2012

Strong praise for the Kia Rio from Consumer Reports.

Don’t call the new Kia Rio sedan a “penalty box.”  There was a time when that might have applied to subcompact sedans in general – and Korean-made products in particular – but a shoot-out among domestic and import small cars suggests the best of the subcompact segment deliver more than just a cheap price tag.

The Rio EX, in particular, made a strong impression on the folks at Consumer Reports, the non-profit publication rating the Korean subcompact best in an otherwise impressive class of sedans.  The Rio hatchback didn’t score quite as well, but still landed in the top three among a field that also includes the Honda Fit and Nissan Versa.

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Notably, CR some harsh and unexpected pot shots at the Toyota entry into the growing – and increasingly competitive – subcompact segment , suggesting the Japanese giant’s Yaris hatchback  “continues to underwhelm.”  Once dominant in the small car market, Toyota has been losing ground of late, and many industry analysts believe its decline is only tangentially related to last year’s Japanese earthquake and tsunami.

The challenge is keeping up with a segment that has improved dramatically in recent years.


First Look: 2012 Chevrolet Sonic

Making noise in the small car segment.

by on Jan.10, 2011

Chevrolet's Sonic Z-Spec concept isn't likely to get lost in the crowd at the Detroit Auto Show.

Chevrolet is betting it can make some big noise with its new small car, the 2012 Sonic.

The new subcompact is the replacement for the unloved Chevrolet Aveo, a car that seemed almost invisible against the Japanese models dominating the small car segment, such as the Honda Fit and Toyota Yaris.

The name is also new and reflects the fact, according to Mark Reuss, General Motors’ president of North American operations, that even GM executives couldn’t decide how to pronounce Aveo.  So, new car, new name.

Set for its formal debut, later today, at the 2011 Detroit Auto Show, Sonic is part of an assault GM is making on various small car segments, from the Korean-made Spark microcar to the new Cruze compact.