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How new small cars are different

2260 Views 1 Reply 2 Participants Last post by  ZoomZoom
Passive safety features aren’t the kind of features with which you want to be up close and personal. This certainly doesn’t mean crumple zones, side impact beams, and airbags aren’t lifesavers, only that we don’t want to experience the situation wherein airbags are necessary. Two front airbags, two front-side airbags, and side curtain airbags are fitted as standard on the Subaru Impreza (and others). The Scion iQ has the world’s first rear window curtain airbag... along with nine other airbags.

The Chevrolet Cruze, Ford Fiesta, Kia Forte, Kia Soul, Mitsubishi Lancer, Scion xB, Toyota Corolla, and Volkswagen Jetta were all named to 2011’s Top Safety Pick list by the Insurance Institute For Highway Safety. Add to that list a group of $20K+ small cars. Vehicles must be equipped with stability control and pass the IIHS’s requirements in front, side, and rear crash tests as well as a roof strength test.

STANDARD SAFETY FEATURESHyundai Canada says, “What others believe are premium safety features, we believe should be standard. Safety is not a luxury, but a necessity.” Well, that’s nice, but Hyundai only says this in regard to the 2012 Accent, a car which will feature a vast array of standard safety features: vehicle stability management, electronic stability control, traction control, anti-lock braking, electronic brake force distribution, and brake assist. It’s nice that Hyundai’s in a position to sneer down at others who don’t take safety so seriously, but Hyundai wasn’t fitting these safety features to the 2011 Accent, so there is a degree of hypocrisy and forgetfulness in their speech.

Small, inexpensive cars don’t have to be... small. The 2011 Volkswagen Jetta is 236 millimetres longer than the Jetta was 20 years ago, 99 millimetres wider, and rides on a wheelbase that’s 180 millimetres longer. Big car dimensions means the Jetta can have a trunk that’s bigger than the Toyota Camry’s or Honda Accord’s, even though the Jetta’s base price is an economy car-like $9000 less than those two midsize sedans.

As often as leather interiors and hi-fi stereos can now be found in upscale versions of mainstream small cars, luxury automakers are also participating in a slowly advancing move toward selling, or attempting to sell, premium-badged small cars. The Acura CSX, Audi A3, BMW 1-Series, Mercedes-Benz B-Class, and Volvo C30 combined for 8899 sales in Canada in 2010, down 11.7% from 2009 in a market which grew 6.6%. (Honda sold 57,501 Civics last year.)

Automakers set high prices for a reason, they don’t normally add zeros just for the fun of it. Nevertheless, it’s strange to see the price of a car doubled once delivery charges, taxes, and options are taken into account. Yet a Kia Forte5, a car which starts at $16,195, turns into a $25,795 car once the buyer chooses the SX luxury trim level and an automatic transmission, then $31,337 with delivery and 15% taxes. This is not an uncommon price plateau for small cars in 2011.

You’re thinking new car prices are higher than ever, right? That’s not totally incorrect: the Ferrari F430’s successor, the 458 Italia, accelerated by $38,400 USD. On the other hand, a basic 2003 Toyota Matrix started at $16,645 in Canada, equal to $19,223 in 2011 according to the Bank Of Canada’s Inflation Calculator. Honda’s 2002 Civic began at $15,900, or about $19,450 now. Yet the 2011 Toyota Matrix has a base MSRP of $16,715 and the 2011 Honda Civic starts at $14,990. Both are better equipped and more powerful than the older models, too.

Deemed unique because of their small exterior dimensions, the Volkswagen Beetle, Chevrolet Corvair, and Ford Pinto helped open a segment previously left mostly uninhabited. Recently, the wide-ranging category known by the tagline “small” has expanded to include the Mazda 2, Fiat 500, Nissan Cube, and the crossoveresque Mini Countryman. Consumers should consider themselves fortunate: competition breeds improvement, so even conventional models like the Honda Civic and Ford Focus are forced to return to the drawing board to stay relevant.

its a nice write up to change our minds about small cars and how they are all just cheaply made crap boxes.

It right that these cars are great for what they are!
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Small cars these days are nothing like small cars back in the days.

Manufactures now notice the strong demand for fuel efficient cars that hold the same luxuries as bigger more expensive, gas guzzling cars. Clearlyy Mazda is one of those manufactures =)

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