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What is "wrong" with these new subcompacts?



  • Centripetal Force. Fine, for an inanimate object. But, we are talking about human safety in those inanimate objects. Not only does the physics book need to be opened but the medical book also. Not much "whiplash" can be experienced by a human without injury or death.

    Centripetal force is a rotational force. Whiplash is a function of poor head restraint design, not force. Race cars weigh much less than passenger cars and crash at much higher speeds, yet the drivers are fine. Further, in the crash research I have been involved in, "whiplash" has yet to be a cause of death. The most common cause has been ejection/seatbelt not fastened.
    A vehicle is going from 35 mph to 0 mpg in a matter of feet. The greater the mass, the more inertia the vehicle needs to absorb. The more the vehicle absorbs, the more that gets passed on to the occupants of the vehicle. Thats why cars have crumple zones, the idea is to absorb as much force as possible (it takes a LOT of energy to bend metal) before it reaches the passenger compartment.

    I'll stick with the larger and heavier cars.
    Where you lack the crash avoidance to avoid the collision in the first place.
  • if its on its head, it counts.

    I wouldn't say that it counts in every instance. A lot of ditches around here are deep enough that if a car goes in at a direct enough angle it will naturally end up on its front end.

    Yeah, we just disagree there, either its on its wheels or its not. If its not, its a roll. Whether that is caused by a slip or a trip is a different issue. Cars typically require a trip, where as SUVs and other high profiles just require a slip.
  • boaz47boaz47 Posts: 2,751
    Of all the new vehicles the Versa is the one I think I liked the best. But even with that impressive number isn't that about two months worth of F series sales?

    One thing we can be happy with is the death and injury rate per miles driven and per population is the lowest it has been since 1994. So vehicles in general are safer than they have ever been. 1.42 per 100 million vehicle miles traveled is pretty good. Rollovers and head on accidents not withstanding.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,726
    Actually, it's about six months worth of F-series sales in 2007. But that's not the point - some really great cars don't even register as a blip on the radar screen of F-series sales. Corvette? Was outsold by every single individual one of the models I mentioned. Aura, the '07 NACOTY? Was also outsold by every single one except the Fit.

    When Honda finally ramped up production of the Fit the last 4 months, sales really shot up. I expect it will sell at least 50% better in '08 than it did in '07 (as long as they can maintain the new production level). At which point it will handily outsell Aura along with all the other subcompacts. :-P

    And Yaris might see a sales bump in '08 too, as the new Corolla arrives in February, and we will probably consequently see real-world transaction prices for that model go up, nudging more buyers towards Yaris.

    And how's this for a statistic? Aveo was the Chevy car model with the highest year-over-year sales increase in '07!

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

  • boaz47boaz47 Posts: 2,751
    "And how's this for a statistic? Aveo was the Chevy car model with the highest year-over-year sales increase in '07! "

    And what percent of total sales does that represent? All I see in a Versa Hatchback is a Sentra sized vehicle with a hatchback. I don't see a sub compact that much smaller than what we already have and I don't see another small 108 HP entry level car. The Versa is so close to the Sentra I size and weight I don't see anything new there. The fuel mileage is about the same even if the city mileage is a bit better for the Versa highway mileage is listed as the same on Edmunds. The base price for the Sentra is even pretty close and of course you have the advantage of being able to order a Se-r spec V if you need more scoot. So just what makes the Sub Compact Versa so different from what we had already? Remember in the beginning I said Civic and Corolla sized vehicles are about as small as Americans seem to like in any real great numbers.

    If we look at the Civic the base price is $14,819 with a Invoice of 13,800 or so? I get a car everyone trusts. It gets 26-34 Mpg and it has 140 HP with a 128 Pft of torque. The Fit is 21 inches shorter and has a WB 8 inches shorter but it is only a bit less than 100 pounds lighter and only has 109 HP. Plus it prices out at $13,900 and an invoice of 13, 400 or so. It once again get 28-34 MPG so just what are the major differences between what we already had and they are now offering us?

    In dog show they couldn't even cover the spread between standard and miniture to distinguish the breed. Only the Mini and the Smart qualify as new sub compacts in the truest meaning of the word. Everything else is simply a different skin on the same horse.

    To jump from a base Accord to a base Civic is 4 MPG city and 3 MPG highway and an additional 37 HP at a cost of $5,000.00. If sub compacts are to make an impression on the consumer they should offer something better in relation to the next step up. As they stand today they simply don't offer that much. :confuse:
  • The Versa measures 94/95 cubic feet of interior space, the Sentra is at 97 cubic feet, the Altima is 101 and the Maxima is 104...seems like there's a space between each of them. Vehicles are measured by INTERIOR space. The best mileage Versa is rated at 27 (city), the Sentra is at 25, the Altima (not counting the hybrid) is 23, and the Maxima is 19. That's 8-9% between each of the four-cylinder cars.

    The Versa is smaller than the Sentra...significantly enough. It uses a larger engine than any of the competition as well.

    According to the standard definition for a subcompact (the same measurement that's been used for over 30 years), the Chevrolet Aveo5, Honda Civic Coupe, Mini Cooper, Nissan Altima Coupe, Scion tC and xD, Suzuki SX4, and Toyota Yaris hatchback are all subcompacts (between 85 and 99 cubic feet of interior and trunk space). The Smart falls into a seperate category of "two seaters."
  • boaz47boaz47 Posts: 2,751
    well if you consider the Altima Coupe with 175 HP a traditional Sub Compact then there is nothing wrong with the new sub compacts. The fact that I could get a V-6 in that same Sub Compact is even more delightful. And I never had a problem with the tC being a sub compact as well. A sub compact like the Altima coupe weighing in at a ton and a half is a nice size car. The xD is just what the xA should have been. And considering that the Altima coupe has a better fuel rating than the SX4 gives one very little reason to consider the smaller SX4.

    As I pointed out earlier when Scion first introduced the xA and xB the problem was HP more than anything else, well and how ugly the xB was but that is another story. Anyway Scion solved the problem. The tC was always a bit bigger than the xA and out sold it from almost day one. Now Scion has no sub compact with 108 HP. They dropped the cars I felt the buying public would reject for one of the two reasons I have listed before. I will freely admit I don't understand the xB and why it still sells. I guess I never will. The new one looks French enough to have a cloth top.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,040
    The Altima coupe is considered a subcompact?! Now I know it wouldn't be classed as a midsize like the sedan, because the swoopy roof probably cuts down on headroom and I'm sure the back seat has less legroom. Sometimes though, on a coupe, the decrease in legroom is accompanied by an increase in trunk space, as they just move the back seat forward to allow for a more abbreviated, low-slung roofline. So in a case like that, the increased trunk volume might partially cancel out the reduced back seat room. The rear of the Altima coupe is styled a bit differently from the sedan though, which probably also cuts down on trunk volume.

    In recent years, the restylings that most midsized cars have gone through, with more rounded off rumps, has cut into trunk volume. The Camry dropped from 17 cubic feet to 15 with its 2007 redesign. I had initially heard that the Altima had 18 cubic feet, but the EPA rates it at 15, which is down from the 16 that the '06 model had. The 2008 Accord, which actually qualifies as a full-sized car if you don't get the sunroof, has a 14 cubic foot trunk, which, I believe, is what the '03-07 had. The Sebring/Avenger, which look like they bulked up quite a bit with the '07 redesign, saw their trunks shrink from 16 to 13 cubic feet.

    With these trends, subcompacts might become more desireable alternatives simply by way of larger cars becoming less versatile!
  • Running around Ann Arbor, I saw a Smart ForTwo CDi with Ontario plates. I think that is the first time I saw one on the road. We were in the city and it was having no trouble getting from light to light (it really just needs a good 0-30 time). I don't know how big the occupants were (but they had big hair, I think) but seemed comfortable enough. I think it would be a long ride down from Canada but once in Ann Arbor, I think that would be an application where it would work well. We also have a relatively high PPC (Prius per capita) so people here are open to new ideas and environmental friendliness, but nothing like the west coast.
  • boaz47boaz47 Posts: 2,751
    to see how the Smart holds up to the LA freeway system. Better yet out on the 10 heading to Vegas on a Friday afternoon or Saturday morning. I am sure it makes a fine city car but when everything out on the road is a different story. To be truthful I take that back I am not sure it makes a fine city car because they haven't made a profit on them even in Europe when being a city car should have been a advantage.
  • alltorquealltorque Posts: 535
    The little Smart isn't selling very well in U.K. overall. We have 4 locally, (that I'm aware of - there are doubtless more), and they are all promo vehicles for small businesses. You know the sort of thing..........colour scheme of Pink & Charcoal and graphics advertising "Wild Bill's Flower Shop" or somesuch.

    As daily tansport they are heavily outnumbered by Nissan Micra, Honda Jazz (Fit), Citroen C1 and C2, Toyota Yaris, Skoda Fabia, MINI and all the many many others.

    Hard to see how it will stay in production as it's mpg figures aren't exactly brilliant and the CO2 emmissions are poor relative to size. It's CO2 figures are 112 - 116 g/km. Compare this to a Toyota Yaris 1.4 diesel, (90 bhp), at 119 g/km and it starts to look not good. Then think about the VW Polo 1.4 TDi Bluemotion (80bhp) at 99 g/km. :shades: Not the most able kid on the block is it ? :lemon:

    Just to get some perspective, here are CO2 figures for a few other cars; all in g/km :

    Bentley Conti GT = 410, Audi A6 3.0 TDi = 211, Chrysler 300C 3.5 V6 = 262 (3.6 V6 CRD = 215), BMW 335D Auto = 200, Ferrari F430 = 420, Ford Focus 2.0 Zetec = 170 (2.0 TDCi = 148).

    Enough, already.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I think they're hoping that boutique quality, rareness, uniqueness, whatever you want to call it, actually helps them sell better.
  • boaz47boaz47 Posts: 2,751
    We could use some small diesels here for sure. But they will have a hard fight in States like California. Particulents are a major problem with CARB and they have been the biggest hurdle to diesels in this state for years. Still the strangeness of the Smart may be a help in the beginning but over the long run it could hurt it as much as anything else.
  • boaz47boaz47 Posts: 2,751
    Like I said before, being different might get them off to a good start but they are rather limited in use for a vehicle to stay in the game over the long haul.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    I agree 100%. I think it'll be a very short-lived trend that will not sustain itself. Wait 2 years and dealers will be begging you to buy them with steep discounts.
  • steverstever Posts: 52,621
    "Some of the few people who have seen the car describe a tiny, charming, four-door, five-seater hatchback shaped like a jelly bean, small in the front and broad in the back, the better to reduce wind resistance and permit a cheaper engine. “It’s a nice car — cute,” said A. K. Chaturvedi, senior vice president of business development at Lumax Industries, a supplier in Delhi that developed the car’s headlights and interior lamps."

    Four Wheels for the Masses: The $2,500 Car (NY Times)
  • plektoplekto Posts: 3,738
    The thing is, the U.K. is already flooded with tiny cars and always had been. So the Smart has to shine purely on its own merits. And it's just too expensive and yuppie-toy ish like the Mini(except without the fun and wow factor the Mini has) to compete.

    Edit - it will do well in the U.S., though, because it lacks competition for the next few years, much like how the Mini originally did.

    The VW Polo(whatever they are calling their smallest car then) when it comes over o the U.S. in a couple of years is going to blow the market wide open. TDI and 70-80mpg highway will get a lot of people wondering why a Prius is all of a sudden such a big deal.
  • boaz47boaz47 Posts: 2,751
    well a small diesel might do very well here but if it has a VW in front of its name it will be a struggle. VW has a parts and service problem in the US that is hard to ignore. If Honda and Toyota make a small diesel that would be a hole different story. With a diesel it is hard to try and convince people that the extra driving experience is worth the reduced dependability. That is pretty much what VW relies on today, the idea that it has European handling rather than bullet proof dependability.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Also, Polo is a subcompact and the Prius is a mid-size, big difference in size.

    Also, I wonder if VW could even sell a Polo for any less than a Rabbit. Add to that the extra cost of a diesel engine.

    For a Smart we're talking, what, $13-15k? For a Polo TDI I can imagine $17-18k.
  • boaz47boaz47 Posts: 2,751
    Who knows what the Smart will sell for? Hyundai didn't come in at the prices we were expecting. Even the Yugo was more expensive than advertised. I sometimes wonder if the base price they tell us about includes tires.
  • boaz47boaz47 Posts: 2,751
    Who knows what the Smart will sell for? Hyundai didn't come in at the prices we were expecting. Even the Yugo was more expensive than advertised. I sometimes wonder if the base price they tell us about includes tires.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Let's see, Yugos were $3995 IIRC, but I wonder how many on the lot didn't have any options.

    You want wheels with that car, that'll be extra... :D

    The Excel started at about $5 grand. Again, that was a 4 speed manual with vinyl seats and no side mirror on the passenger side.

    Then again, a base Civic or Sentra lacked those items at the time also.
  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,726
    they're not going to sell the new Tata's the People's Car of the 00s! Too bad VW forgot how to produce the People's Car about 20 years ago...

    Is it just me or does the Tata hood ornament look a lot like the Toyota emblem?

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

  • Tata's Nano, the people's car, won't be sold here in the U.S. FOR NOW!
    There's always a possibility that this will change in future. For now who can say, but the possibility is there!
    About VW, you're absolutely correct. VW blew it, BIG time.
    The Nano would have to be tweaked for the U.S. market, obviously, but if it's a success elsewhere in the world I do think it would make its way here. It would give Tata a foothold into this marketplace, for sure. Time will tell, mate. I look forward to seeing road tests of this small critter soon, hopefully. Perhaps Tata won't make the same mistakes the Yugo did way back in the day.

    Peace!<-AladdinSane- :shades:
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    For the USA they would build a Tata Sport Utility Vehicle, raise it up 6", put on huge tires, add a V6 and give it 27 air bags, and 82 cup holders for the four rows of seats.

    I would end up weighing two tons and costing 20 grand. :D
  • alltorquealltorque Posts: 535
    For the USA they would build a Tata Sport Utility Vehicle, raise it up 6", put on huge tires, add a V6 and give it 27 air bags, and 82 cup holders for the four rows of seats.

    I would end up weighing two tons and costing 20 grand.

    Cynical ? Yes. True ? Absolutely. Gave me a laugh, thank you. However, why would you end up weighing two tons ? Lots of Indian food, perhaps ? :)
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587

    Oops, yeah, I love that curry! MMMmmm! ;)
  • boaz47boaz47 Posts: 2,751
    But you do have a very valid point. The idea of a light weight car for inexpensive transportation of the masses is almost impossible with the requirements the US puts on manufacturers. The new Mini Cooper is in direct contrast to Colin Chapman's whole idea of a light weight moderate power car. His whole life was spent trying to prove that bigger wasn't always better. Even look at how much the tC weighs.

    I like my road cars and SUVs big but I have no problem with a small sports car. My favorites were the Bug Eye sprite and even the 124 Spyder I had. I totally understand the small commuter or for places that need them the mid sized SUVs like the Forester. While I didn't need a sub compact when I was commuting I realized the value of the old rabbit diesel. Even back then close to 50 MPG was a pretty good return for the sacrifice of a pretty slow car. The Metro was a good effort and gave fuel mileage close to 50 MPG. So my problem with the new sub compacts is they are too heavy, not that sub compact and don't give you the same value for your dollar as even the old Rabbit diesel or the Metro with the less than 9k out the door price. 20 years after the VW diesel rabbit you expect more for your money. And you expect better fuel mileage. I simply can't see why they aren't getting 50 to 60 MPG in the new sub compacts when they were getting close to 50 Highway 20 years ago. Unless it is simply that the consumer doesn't care all that much.
  • ateixeiraateixeira Posts: 72,587
    Yeah, the Mini is mini but it's still not light. I believe those weigh in at about 2500+ lbs, not exactly light.

    My '91 Escort GT weighed around 2300 lbs, and was bigger. Though it had far less safety gear.

    For a while in college I had a Chevy Sprint that weighed about 1800 lbs.

    Now that was light.

    It felt like a tin can, though. My wife (girlfriend at the time) refused to ride in it.
  • texasestexases Posts: 7,768
    I simply can't see why they aren't getting 50 to 60 MPG in the new sub compacts when they were getting close to 50 Highway 20 years ago. Unless it is simply that the consumer doesn't care all that much.

    Two reasons - safety (more stars requires more steel) and performance (0-60 in 7-8 sec is not unusual now, would have been phenomenal in 1990). So MPGs get outweighed by IIHS and MPHs!
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