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What is "wrong" with these new subcompacts?

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  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,695
    I have already seen Sparks on the road, driven mostly by baby boomers from what I could see. The thing seems like a fairly good deal for what it is, even if the engine is very low-powered and the mileage is hardly any better than the next class of cars up.

    If you really need to squish it into tiny parking spots, it's just the right size. And it's certainly a better value than the iQ.

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

  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,695
    edited August 2012
    Subcompacts were the segment with the highest-percentage increase for August sales:

    As a result, the subcompact segment recorded the biggest increase in sales: in August this year, 57,300 subcompact models were delivered in the States, up 42 percent compared to the same month in 2011.

    Is that on track for more than half a million sales per year?! Subcompacts??!!

    Things are definitely looking up. ;-)

    http://carscoop.blogspot.com/2012/08/rising-gas-prices-push-us-buyers.html

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

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    No surprise, I saw regular gas at $4.11 this morning. Yikes.

    They'll drop again if gas goes down, though.

    The catch with A segment cars is that you get diminishing returns. I think it's because they are still required to meet the same safety and emissions standards as bigger cars, yet in a smaller package.

    That means they may be 20% smaller, but they're not 20% cheaper. Maybe more like 10% cheaper.
  • stickguystickguy Posts: 15,683
    they also often don't return better mileage than a "real" car a class up, or at least not enough difference to make it worthwhile.

    2015 Hyundai Sonata 2.4i Limited Tech (mine), 2013 Acura RDX (wife's) and 2007 Volvo S40 (daughters college car)

  • michaellnomichaellno Posts: 4,300
    they also often don't return better mileage than a "real" car a class up, or at least not enough difference to make it worthwhile.

    To maintain the low price point, the Spark uses a 4-speed auto and 5-speed manual whereas the Sonic and Cruze have 6 speeds in both gearboxes.

    This, of course, hampers fuel economy.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,342
    It'll be interesting to see whether the A Class cars depreciate faster than the B class ones. The Smart doesn't count, in my opinion, but the Fiat 500 and Spark will be the ones to watch. The MINI is in a class by itself, but it holds its value surprisingly well.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,695
    The catch with A segment cars is that you get diminishing returns. I think it's because they are still required to meet the same safety and emissions standards as bigger cars, yet in a smaller package.

    That means they may be 20% smaller, but they're not 20% cheaper. Maybe more like 10% cheaper.


    True, but have you SEEN the base price on a new Spark? Pretty darn low - I'm thinking it must be the least expensive new car sold in America at this point, or pretty darn close to it. $13,5 to start, and that's with A/C, power windows, and a stereo, not to mention the obligatory ABS and a gazillion airbags.

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

  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,342
    I imagine that Sparks will be cross-shopped against Fiat 500s and used Class B cars.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Versa starts at $10,990 but then things like wheels and tires are optional. ;)

    Sonic hatch starts at $14.8k, Spark starting at $12.2k. I guess that is a fair amount, $2600 less.

    Spark also looks like an angry mosquito while the Sonic is too anonymous looking, so that might help the little one. The look stands out more.
  • benjaminhbenjaminh Posts: 1,786
    +1 Nice.

    I hear the next gen Mini, due in 2013 as a 2014 model, might have as its standard powerplant a 3 cylinder turbo. Hwy mpg would be up to a hybrid, but performance would be the same as this version....Sounds good.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Problem is 3 bangers have all the inherent balance of a cat stuck on the blade of a ceiling fan.

    :D
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,342
    Balance shafts smooth them out. They're probably still not as smooth as an I-4 throughout the rev range in neutral, but I imagine the vibration wouldn't be noticeable, or not an issue, under load.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I can say that because I owned one when I was a poor college student. I was getting around 46mpg, not bad.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,342
    Did you own a Metro? The 3-cylinder Geo Metro didn't have balance shafts. The Subaru Justy did.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,695
    is going to "do a Mini" on its lineup in the next year: add a four-door lengthened model and a small crossover with the turbo engine. They will share the crossover with Jeep for the 2014 MY:

    TURIN, Italy -- The United States will get four more versions of the Fiat 500 subcompact in the next two years.

    This fall, a turbocharged 500 joins the lineup. Early next year, Fiat will begin sales of an electric. In mid-2013, a four-door, five-seat, high-roof 500L will join the range. In 2014, Fiat will add a 500X small crossover.


    My question is, if they plan to start selling a "Turbo", what is the Abarth and how is it different?

    The 500L looks weird - the Clubman and Countryman look much better....

    http://www.autonews.com/article/20120903/OEM04/309039988/fiat-plans-4-more-versi- ons-of-500

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

  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,342
    Excellent question! The Abarth is smaller and lighter than the models that will be introduced, and, therefore, quicker and more nimble. Couldn't your comments also apply to the MINI models? I understand your point, though, because I've asked myself the same thing. You can be sure that marketing will differentiate each model and place each in its intended role.

    Just as MINI has done an excellent job of segmenting the market, Fiat will try to follow a similar script with the 500.
  • The Abarth 500 is a little flying bomb and it's crazy brother the Abarth 500 EssEss is just that - crazy. On side-by-side testing it is outgunned by the MINI Cooper S but said to be "A lot more involving and the one you would choose to drive for sheer pleasure"

    I guess they named it EssEss as SS still has unwelcome connotations here in Europe.

    Off topic but Ford have now announced their new B-Max 5-door compact - somewhere twixt a Fiesta and a Focus with sliding rear doors. Best power unit is said to be the 999cc 118bhp gasser. Not a rocket ship but more than adequate for it's intended market. Have a Googletm for details.
  • steverstever Viva Las CrucesPosts: 41,990
    edited September 2012
    Looks like a Honda Fit with sliders. Perfect. I can picture people cramming into tiny parking lot slots and then exiting by the sliders when there's not enough room to open the front doors.

    Moderator
    Minivan fan. Feel free to message or email me - stever@edmunds.com.

  • michaellnomichaellno Posts: 4,300
    My question is, if they plan to start selling a "Turbo", what is the Abarth and how is it different?

    The turbo will have 135HP; the Abarth 160HP.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Even older, it was a Chevy Sprint, before Geo existed.

    The last year they had a Chevy Sprint Metro, which was the most fuel efficient model, that bridged the gap to the Geo name change.
  • robr2robr2 BostonPosts: 8,045
    ...and the Turbo will have a softer ride than the Abarth. Oh and no model with a Scorpion on her neck trying to distract you....
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,342
    Different name, but same engine, though, right?
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,342
    Regarding the SS connotations, Chevy started using that model designation decades ago. Always wondered about the sensitivity of that, even though it meant Super Sport.

    As for the B-Max, if I'm not confusing it with another model, we'll get it in hybrid version, to compete with the Prius. Some please correct me if I'm wrong on this. Anyhow, I'd prefer the standard, non-electrified one.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,695
    Aha! 135 hp vs 160, I missed that part, thanks!

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

  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    My 1986 Sprint had a whopping 48hp 1.0l engine.

    Later Geos made up to 55hp, though I'm not sure what changes were made to get up to that explosive level of power. ;)
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,342
    edited September 2012
    Upon further checking, it's the Ford C-Max that'll be sold only as a hybrid in the U.S., not the B-Max. The European version of the C-Max is gasoline powered.
  • You're obviously not worthy of the Ford B-Max.............or the VW Up!, SEAT Mii or Skoda Citigo. Joking; no offence intended. The three latter are all from VW Group and share mechanicals but not bodies. All are very capable city+ cars and very aggressively priced, (well, for Europe). Needless to say, the VW is the most expensive.

    Things are getting very interesting over here, particularly for small, inexpensive, relatively roomy cars with small gasoline engines and VW Group is leading the way.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,342
    Interesting. I like to see VW bring the UP to the U.S., but it doesn't look like they'll do it.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,695
    How about them bringing the Polo here first? It's built in Mexico and sold all over Latin America, you would think the cost would be low enough to sell it profitably in the U.S., and they are one of the last major automakers NOT to have a subcompact for sale here.

    In fact,, I think they may officially be THE last...Versa, Yaris, Fit, Accent, Rio, Sonic, Spark, Fiesta, Fiat 500, VW ????

    Who did I forget?

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

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