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What is "wrong" with these new subcompacts?



  • I think that was Sport Compact Car and it might have been a first gen Nissan Altima.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,849
    in the overall scheme of things, these small cars aren't exactly lightweights. I'm looking at the C&D right now that has the xD and the Mini in it. The xD's curb weight is 2611 lb and the Mini is 2555. Just for comparison, a 1968 Dodge Dart started at 2705 lb for the 2-door sedan...and that's WITH the 475 lb lump of a slant six under the hood!

    Now of course, modern cars are much better-optioned. The xD and Mini have a/c, which was optional on most cars back then. But a/c probably adds a negligible amount of weight these days. I've heard back in the day, ordering a/c on a car added 100-150 pounds. But on the flip side, considering how marginal some small car a/c systems can be, maybe rolling down the windows and flipping open all the vents on a Dart will work better than cranking up the a/c on an xD! :P

    Power windows probably don't add much weight these days, either. I've swapped out the power window motors in an '89 Gran Fury and a '79 Newport, and I doubt if each motor was more than 2-3 pounds. And they're only going to be lighter the tape drive thingies they use to roll up the windows are lighter than those old lift mechanisms with the teeth in them.

    If anything, I think these little cars are just proving the old adage that heavier is safer. Not bigger necessarily, but heavier. On the page before the Mini, they have a short take on a BMW 535xi. 4042 pounds. Roughly the size of my old 1980 Malibu, but the weight of a DeSoto.

    Sure, they're building them a lot safer these days, and a lot of that is due to crumple zones that deform in a controlled fashion. But a lot of it is also about putting weight in the right places.

    Technology is improving, but I'm guessing that lightweight techniques of making a car stronger and safer are still too cost-prohibitive for mass-produced cars. When I see something the size of an xD, fully equipped, that can still come in at around 2000 pounds, THEN I'll be impressed by weight efficiency. But as things stand, if you want to make up some kind of index, such as dividing curb weight by length, today's cars are probably as weight-inefficient as they've ever been. Sure, they're also safer than they've ever been, but that actually helps with the argument that weight can be your friend!
  • boaz47boaz47 Posts: 2,744
    There does seem to be some smoke and mirrors in the new sub compacts. They also have solved the problem by being bigger than their forbearers. The Mini Cooper is only one example. The Versa is another. Just look at the Commercial for the Versa as they poke fun of other sub compacts and how they have solved that problem by giving you more room.

    But looking at what a light year might be if we took a 1990 Civic Hatch for 10k+ or so new we would have bought a Compact that had a curb weight of 2127. It was 157.1 inches long and 66.2 inches wide and 52.5 inches tall. It was rated at 33 and 37. Now we have the Fit sub compact at 13k+ and it has a curb weight of 2514. It is 157.4 inches long and 66.2 inches wide and 60 inches tall and is rated at 33-38. The Versa is bigger and a bit heavier than both and gets 30 -34.

    So it seems to me they are solving the problem that same way it has always been solved. Get bigger and add a bit more weight. It doesn’t seem like the Sub Compact is a sub compact in reality. And looking at Scion after one generation we see bigger and more power is the same solution they have always used.

    One mile per gallon doesn't seem like the sub compacts have come light years ahead of compacts to me.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,849
    Just look at the Commercial for the Versa as they poke fun of other sub compacts and how they have solved that problem by giving you more room

    I haven't noticed those Versa ads. However, touting the fact that your small car is bigger than the competition's small car is nothing new!

    However, I do think small cars still have come a long way. For instance, I'd guess my uncle's '03 Corolla weighs around 2500 pounds. EPA rated 30/38. I had a '91 Civic rental once. It was a 4-door sedan, pretty nice interior. I always thought it had the 100 hp 1.6 4-cyl, but I'm thinking now it was the weaker 1.5 4-cyl. Anyway, the 1.5 is rated at 28/33. I guess something like that would've weighed like 2100-2200 lb?

    I dunno how fast that Civic was "supposed" to do 0-60, but if I were to take a guess, I'd say about 15 seconds. I'm sure the buff rags and such had it pegged around 11-12. I think I've seen 0-60 times of around 9.5 for my uncle's Corolla. So, the cars are improving in the sense that they're giving you better performance and economy in a package that's bigger and heavier. I do often wonder though, if they could find a way to keep the weight and size the same, while making other improvements, how much the economy would go up? For instance, if you took a 2007 Civic's drivetrain (rated at 30/40 for the automatic) but were able to get the weight of the car down to what a 1991 Civic would have been, what kind of fuel economy you would get?
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    They may have done it more than once, but this was definitely a Sentra.

    I searched for "Sentra Sawzall" and got several hits to the article. I won't link them because Edmunds doesn't allow linking to other forums, but it's easy to find.
  • boaz47boaz47 Posts: 2,744
    That brings us all they way back to the idea that Americans might pay more for more but not often will they pay more for less.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,849
    here's a link for the Sentra, which should be okay to post, since it's not a forum or message board.

    I think it's interesting that just swapping out the wheels, saving 13 pounds at each corner, cut the 0-60 time from 8.6 to 8.1 seconds and the quarter mile time from 16.3 to 16.0 seconds. However, that was 13 pounds of sprung (or is it unsprung? I always get the terms mixed up...anyway, it's whatever is the "bad" one) weight, and also a narrower tire (195 mm versus 225) for less friction.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    That's unsprung weight.

    Sprung means it is held up by the suspension.

    Unsprung means the suspension has to fight that weight on bound/rebound.

    With a lighter, smaller wheel and tire, you actually have a lot less rotational inertia.

    Racers often say you should use the smallest wheels that fit over your brakes. :shades:
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Thanks for the link.

    This is priceless:

  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,687
    I'd pay more for a 2000 pound Fit, better yet 1800 pounds, employing lightweight materials and high-tensile steel to achieve the weight savings. With 1800-2000 pounds of curb weight, and just using the little 1.5 and gearing it already has, the thing would be a ROCKET. Or, gear it taller for big fuel economy savings, I bet it could pull the same 0-60 it does now and 50 mpg FROM THE SAME ENGINE.

    We are just so enormously overdue for automakers to start taking weight reduction seriously. :-(

    Kinda makes you think: if Toyota spent the money they are already spending on the Prius batteries in a focused, intensive weight reduction program for the Corolla and Matrix, I wonder if they couldn't produce a faster car with the same fuel economy for the same money.

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    See post 5264.'s topless! :D
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,687
    No, I'd like a complete car please! :-P

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,849
    that they couldn't have found a way to do fuel economy calculations, to see how much each one of those weight-reducing steps helped out in that regard.

    I'm also impressed that they were able to cut off that much of the car and have what was left still be structurally sound. Although I wonder if you tried taking it out on some bumpy roads, maybe it would start to deform?

    On the subject of wheels, the 1998-99 Dodge Intrepid had 205/70/R15's standard, whereas my 2000 has 225/60/R16. I wonder if swapping it to those narrower 15" wheels and tires would have any noticeable effect on fuel economy or performance? Overall diameter would be the same, 26.6". Weight would go down by 2-3 lb per tire, plus however much is saved by the lighter rim, and the tread width would be reduced by about 34" I guess?

    Somehow, in my case, I have a feeling that all it would do is give the car sloppy cornering, without any real benefit in acceleration or economy. :sick:
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,408
    paying more for "less" requires a certain level of discrimination, or stupidity, depending. :P


  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,849
    paying more for "less" requires a certain level of discrimination, or stupidity, depending.

    Well I think people have to at least perceive that they're getting "more" in some category, in order to part with their money. Either in quality, luxury, performance, or SOMETHING.

    And it seems like improved fuel economy isn't one of those things most people associate with as a "more". I have a feeling that's why most hybrid cars are pretty well-equipped. Most people would probably balk at the cost of s stripper hybrid, but dump a load of nice features into one, inflate the price even more, and suddenly people think they're getting a good deal.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,408
    I bought mine for "value"...bang for buck, that sort of thing. Given the high resale value, versatility, and zero problems, I think I was right. (for ONCE!)


  • boaz47boaz47 Posts: 2,744
    But I wonder? If in 2004 according to Edmunds pricing I could buy a Corolla, the bigger brother to the xA and today the Corolla is worth 10,188 from a dealer and 8210 trade in one has to wonder how many will feel as you do? Now consider that the Corolla gets 32-40 MPG and the xA gets 31-37 what advantage other than simply wanting a smaller car is there? Not that wanting small for smalls sake is a bad thing. With the Corolla a person will get better fuel mileage and a better resale value after 3 years. Plus they still make the Corolla. My question becomes why would one the average consumer give up fuel mileage for smallness? I understand your reasoning Shifty but you have to admit you are different. And Scion must feel the other consumers are not as different as you or Nippon. The replacement for the xA is the xD and compared to the Corolla still listed in Edmunds the Corolla still gets better fuel mileage and is even 100 pounds lighter. Plus it lists for 45 dollars less. So based on 2004 figures the Compact is a better deal than the "new" subcompact. Unless the xD is no longer a sub compact and if it isn't then Scion has no sub compacts after only three or four years. Or do you disagree?
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,849
    The Scion xA still had a cheaper sticker price than the Corolla. IIRC, they basically came in one trim level, fully-equipped, with the only option being stick or automatic. They had power windows standard and a few other niceties that you had to pay extra for on the Corolla.

    One thing I'll say for the xA, compared to the Corolla, is that it doesn't give up much in front seat comfort. Now that may not be saying much from my perspective since I don't find the Corolla comfortable to drive, but when you figure the xA is about 2 feet shorter, yet doesn't really seem any worse.

    With the xA though, you do give up some back seat legroom. My uncle's Corolla is pretty impressive in the back, IMO. The xA's not bad for its size, but I can tell the back is tighter. The xA also gives up trunk space big-time, compared to the Corolla. Now I'm not talking TOTAL cargo area, as you can fold down the back seats of an xA (I think you can on a Corolla too, but being a sedan it's not as versatile), but the area behind the back seat. The Corolla's trunk is about 14 cubic feet. That's midsized by today's standards. The xA is "rated" at 12 cubic feet, but to utilize that 12 cubic feet that means you're packing stuff up to the ceiling in that tiny hatch area. If you want to still be able to see out the back window, I'd say you have like 7 or 8 cubic feet.

    So if low price and "bang for the buck" is your priority, I'd say the xA would still win over the Corolla. Its fuel economy is a bit worse, but with the xA's lower price, a couple mpg when you're dealing with numbers in the 30's anyway, it would take you ages to break even with the Corolla's fuel economy.

    I dunno how a Corolla is with the stick shift, but the xA is pretty quick. I think comparing automatic to automatic, the Corolla might've been a bit quicker. I know the xB was pretty slow with the automatic, somewhere around 11 seconds from 0-60. I've seen the Corolla automatic pegged around 9.5 seconds (I swear my uncle's doesn't feel that fast), but I can't remember any tests of the xA automatic.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,687
    But Corolla is a sedan - blecch! If my Echo had been available in a hatch in the U.S., I would have bought the hatch. Hatchbacks are so much more useful for carrying odd-size stuff.

    Corollas are everywhere - their resale is somewhat suppressed as a result (flooded market). The same thing happens to Camrys, relative to other models in the Toyota line. I have yet to get much of a picture of how Scions will do for resale, but I bet they will do at least as well as Corolla/Camry.

    And even today you can't get the Corolla as cheap as the Scion, even comparing to the new xD that replaced the xA. Comparably equipped at sticker, that is. Routine discounting on the ages-old Corolla will give it the edge in the real world, but that will change when the new model arrives in about 6 months.

    Oh, and the handling comparison is no comparison: Corolla is understeer city, designed to be numb and smooth. The xA, partly thanks to its small size, is very nimble and a lot more fun to drive.

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • tiff_ctiff_c Posts: 531
    With the xA though, you do give up some back seat legroom. My uncle's Corolla is pretty impressive in the back, IMO. The xA's not bad for its size, but I can tell the back is tighter. The xA also gives up trunk space big-time, compared to the Corolla. Now I'm not talking TOTAL cargo area, as you can fold down the back seats of an xA (I think you can on a Corolla too, but being a sedan it's not as versatile), but the area behind the back seat.

    Has anyone sat in the back seat of the new xD? My gosh that thing has a LOT of rear legroom! The seats move back and forth so much. Amazing legroom in the xD.
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