Guide To Small Cars by ryan.jones

VIEWS: 23 PAGES: 29

									                  Date           Title               Authors
                  18 July 2012   Small Car Guide –   Donna Kelly,
                                 Summer 2012         Marketing & Website
                                                     Editor

                                                     Stephen Woor,
                                                     Content Writer




Small Car Guide
Summer 2012
CONTENTS
Part One: The Small Car................................................................................................................ 3
   Introduction and history..................................................................................................................................... 3
   Small car definition ............................................................................................................................................. 3
   Pros and cons of small car ownership ................................................................................................................ 4
   Who is a typical small car user? ......................................................................................................................... 5
Part Two: Profiles of 2012’s Market Leading Models ..................................................................... 6
   Ford Fiesta .......................................................................................................................................................... 6
       Technical specifications.................................................................................................................................................... 6

   Vauxhall Corsa .................................................................................................................................................... 8
       Technical specifications.................................................................................................................................................... 8

   Honda Jazz ........................................................................................................................................................ 10
       Technical specifications.................................................................................................................................................. 10

   Toyota Yaris ...................................................................................................................................................... 12
       Technical specifications.................................................................................................................................................. 12

   Nissan Micra ..................................................................................................................................................... 14
       Technical specifications.................................................................................................................................................. 14

   Audi A1 ............................................................................................................................................................. 16
       Technical specifications.................................................................................................................................................. 16

   Kia Picanto ........................................................................................................................................................ 18
       Technical specifications.................................................................................................................................................. 18

   BMW Mini Hatchback ....................................................................................................................................... 20
       Technical specifications.................................................................................................................................................. 20

   Renault Clio ...................................................................................................................................................... 22
       Technical specifications.................................................................................................................................................. 22

   SEAT Ibiza ......................................................................................................................................................... 24
       Technical specifications.................................................................................................................................................. 24

   VW Polo ............................................................................................................................................................ 26
       Technical specifications.................................................................................................................................................. 26

Part Three: Conclusion and the Future of Small Car Motoring ...................................................... 28
   Influential small car trends: China .................................................................................................................... 28
   Where is alternative fuel driving us? ................................................................................................................ 28




© 2012 Nationwide Vehicle Contracts Limited                                                                                                                                        2
Part One: The Small Car

Introduction and history
During 2011, the number one model for new car registrations was the Ford Fiesta1, with 96,112
registrations in total. Three other ‘supermini’ and ‘city car’-sized models were fixtures in the year-end top
ten: the Vauxhall Corsa, VW Polo and BMW Mini. Furthermore, the market share of ‘supermini’-sized
small cars accounted for 36.3% of the market, consistent with trends in 2010 and the largest single
segment in UK motoring. In short: small cars are big business.

The history of the small car is filled with shifting opinions, refined designs and increasingly impressive
specifications. In the immediate aftermath of World War II, small cars offered cut-price motoring to a
ravaged economy: vehicles like the Morris Minor may not have been glamorous, but they revitalised the
British industry and brought motoring to ever-lower income brackets. Even in the size-hungry United
States, the evolution of foreign small-cars into fuel-efficient, affordable and clean alternatives ultimately
toppled a once-dominant automobile industry which had focused for too long on gas-guzzling, high-
performance motors.

The modern small car market is still playing to many of the same strengths: cost remains important, but
rising oil prices and environmental concerns have become proportionally larger factors influencing the
kinds of vehicles people are buying. Today, small cars are an important element of the international
market: In the EU15 group (composed of the 15 nations who were EU members prior to 2004) 45.4% of
all new passenger car registrations were classified as ‘Small Cars’ in 20092. Among them, France (56.9%)
and Italy (64.7%) represent particularly large markets.

Further afield, Japan is particularly renowned for its small car market, due in part to government-
subsidised ‘Kei-cars’ (now 660cc and lower, though historically 150cc motors were the standard in the
post-war period). The Kei-car was a strategy to stimulate the motor-industry in rapidly urbanising post-
war Japan, so it’s unsurprising that similar trends are being witnessed in today’s newly industrialised
nations: India is one particularly striking example, with local maker Tata’s Nano model said to be ‘the
world’s cheapest car’ (pre-launch, the car was available for 1 lakh, equivalent to barely £1,500).

Small car definition
Whilst ‘small car’ is a term in the lexicon of most people looking to purchase a vehicle, the actual
definition is difficult to pin down. Add American English terms and European car segments into the mix
and things can become confusing quickly. For the purposes of our guide, we have classed all four wheeled
vehicles smaller than - but not inclusive of - ‘small family cars’ (e.g. the Ford Focus, Vauxhall Astra and VW
Golf) as ‘small cars’. In British English, these can be further divided into ‘Supermini’ cars, ‘city’ cars and
‘microcars’, though the definition can be inconsistent:

         Superminis are a popular and commonly seen type of small passenger vehicle. The implication of
          the name is that that these are cars larger than an original Mini, but smaller than ‘typical’ cars of


1
    http://www.smmt.co.uk/2012/01/new-car-market-betters-forecast-but-was-down-4-4-in-2011-to-1-94-million/
2
    http://www.acea.be/images/uploads/files/20101008_Segments_by_Country_2006-201008.pdf



© 2012 Nationwide Vehicle Contracts Limited                                                             3
         the time the term was coined (late 70s, early 80s). This is still true today, with the category
         sandwiched between city cars and small family cars. However, superminis have become larger in
         recent years, stretching what has always been a vague definition. As with the other categories
         below, the definition is mostly achieved by association: typical supermini lines are the Ford
         Fiesta, VW Polo and Vauxhall Corsa;
        City cars are rather informally defined, and have been growing in recent years to fill the gap left
         by ever larger supermini models. City cars are loosely defined as any car smaller than a supermini
         and larger than a microcar. They are cars small enough to offer exterior space advantages whilst
         still having enough room for a (usually restrictive) set of rear seats. Well known city car lines
         include the Fiat 500, Ford Ka and Renault Twingo;
        Microcars typically have engines of less than 1.0 litre, seat two passengers and are the smallest
         types of car on the road. It is slightly less uncommon for cars in this category to be three
         wheeled. Their unorthodox appearance earned them the name ‘bubble cars’ in the 1960s, but the
         prevalence of Smart-branded cars (particularly the Smart Fortwo) has meant that cars of this type
         are often generically called ‘Smart cars’ (in much the same way that people still call all vacuum
         cleaners ‘Hoovers’);
        Many smaller two-seater sports-cars may fall within the same size range as the above cars, but
         due to their vastly different market, will not be covered in this guide.

Pros and cons of small car ownership
Small cars make compromises in certain areas, but there are many benefits to owning one beyond the
lower price tag. The extent to how pronounced these pros and cons are varies between models, but the
following may be helpful to you as a general overview:

Pros:

        Small cars naturally have a smaller initial cost than larger vehicles;
        With less weight to pull and smaller capacity engines, small cars offer greater fuel economy;
        Smaller cars typically see less dramatic depreciation during their lifetimes;
        Parking perks: the smaller your car, the easier it is to find a parking space to accommodate it.
         Superminis see minimal benefit, but smaller vehicles are truly useful on city streets;
        Insuring a small car costs less, with higher premiums slapped on vehicles with larger engines;
        Smaller cars are usually more environmentally friendly – both in terms of emissions and in terms
         of the materials it took to construct them.
        Some small cars don’t just give you the benefit of a clear conscience: if your car releases less than
         100 grams of CO2 per kilometre (Fiesta’s Econetic range, Fiat Punto, VW Polo BlueMotion), you
         don’t need to pay congestion charges in London;
        Pollution isn’t just about greenhouse gases: small cars are usually quieter;
        Small cars actually often offer the easiest driving experience, with less vehicle to worry about
         and superior handling.




© 2012 Nationwide Vehicle Contracts Limited                                                            4
Cons:

        Rather obviously, small cars provide less space for luggage and passengers. Microcars outright
         remove rear passenger capability, whereas in the smaller end of the supermini category, the
         issue is comfort and legroom alone;
        Larger cars are typically safer – there’s simply more space for crumple zones and structural
         improvements. However, some small car models have fantastic safety records and it would be
         untrue to claim that you’re “more likely to crash” in a small car (arguably, small cars make it
         easier for you to avoid collisions);
        Engine power is not a primary concern of this end of the market and at top speed, these vehicles
         may not always offer the smoothest, fastest ride. However, all mainstream small car models
         (even microcars) are motorway legal and capable of travel of at least 80mph;
        The remaining cons are purely superficial and subjective: some people simply don’t like the way
         small cars look, and less bodywork does technically leave less space for styling. As many people
         like the look of small cars, however. The UK is a small-car friendly market where it’s fashionable
         to have small cars – different to the hostility to smaller models in America and different still to
         the near-blanket popularity of small vehicles in somewhere like Japan.

Who is a typical small car user?
Considering that the small car segment accounts for over a third of all passenger car registrations in
Europe, it would be wrong to stereotype too far: clearly, these are cars which are suitable for everyone.
However, the advantages and disadvantages of small car travel do make these cars especially appealing
to certain groups:

        As suggested by the term ‘city car’, urban drivers are a major market for small car manufacturers
         due to parking and handling advantages. They may even benefit from exemption from congestion
         charges if their car is environmentally friendly enough;
        Environmentally conscious drivers are interested in smaller vehicles, whether or not green issues
         are a significant part of their lives;
        New drivers often gravitate towards small cars because they are more likely to be within their
         price range. Driving a new car also involves paying less for petrol, and will help offset the often
         high premiums levelled at inexperienced drivers. Finally, the fact that smaller vehicles are easier
         to control makes them easier for new drivers to get to grips with;
        For similar reasons, elderly drivers often find small cars appealing.

On the flip side, small cars may not be ideal for:

        Taller and larger drivers may find the lower roofs and smaller interiors of small cars
         uncomfortable. Tall drivers in particular often find that their rear seats become unusable whilst
         adjusting the driving seat for maximum comfort;
        Large Families may find the smallest models offer neither the passenger space nor the luggage
         space for their requirements. This problem becomes more pronounced as the family ages or
         when they go on particularly long trips.




© 2012 Nationwide Vehicle Contracts Limited                                                          5
Part Two: Profiles of 2012’s Market Leading Models




Ford Fiesta
Class: Supermini

Production: 1976 to Present

On the road: 1,305,114

Ford’s fiesta line of supermini vehicles has been a constant feature of the Ford catalogue since 1976,
making it one of the most well-known models still in production. Currently in the sixth generation of its
design, the range emphasises ease of handling and fuel efficiency with a stylish exterior. Critics have
remarked that the latest model’s rear-seat legroom is slightly lacking. However, Auto Express have called
it a “New Class Leader” and What Car? named it Car of the Year 2008. The 2011 Fiesta also found its way
into the top five in Green Car Journal’s ‘Green Car of the Year’ – the only petrol powered vehicle to do so.

Technical specifications
There are ten different Fiesta models currently available in the UK. The basic model is the Fiesta Studio.
The Fiesta Style, Edge and Zetec offer incremental improvements over each other. Other models offer
different combinations of Ford’s luxury (“Titanium” and “Metal”), environmentally friendly (Econetic) and
Zetec lines. Within these models you will find 1.25, 1.4 and 1.6 options with 3 and 5 door configurations.
This makes for an almost bewildering array of versions (45 in total), priced at between £9,795 and
£16,795. Leasing contracts run from £119.95 excluding VAT.



© 2012 Nationwide Vehicle Contracts Limited                                                          6
Key features on the mid-range Zetec model include:

        Chrome Bezel-ringed front fog lights;
        Electric Power Assisted Steering (EPAS);
        Accessory Power Socket;
        Driver and front passenger airbags;
        Side airbags;
        Electronic Stablity Programme (ESP) and Traction Assist;
        Quickclear Windscreen;
        Anti-lock brakes and Electronic Brake-force distribution;

Optional extras include:

        Rear view camera;
        Bluetooth and USB enabled car stereo;
        Electrically foldable door mirrors;
        Rain sensitive wipers.

Pros:

        High fuel efficiency;
        One of the greenest petrol-only cars on the market;
        Wide range of options;
        Stylish looks.

Cons:

        Has been criticised for legroom limitations in rear.




© 2012 Nationwide Vehicle Contracts Limited                          7
Vauxhall Corsa
Class: Supermini

Production: 1982 to Present

On the road: 1,134,527

The Corsa line has existed since 1982, however the original Corsa model was rebadged as the Vauxhall
Nova in the UK and the Corsa wasn’t a familiar sight until 1993. The current generation Corsa D has been
in production since 2006, though it has been subject to a couple of aesthetic facelifts. Strengths of the
latest model include handling, affordability and safety. There is little negative criticism of the car, but it
has picked up the occasional middling score for engine performance and extras. The model was awarded
‘Car of the Year’ in the 2006 What Car? Awards and the 1.3-litre CDTi ecoFLEX model was voted ‘Best
Supermini’ in the Next Green Car Awards.

Technical specifications
There are 13 different three-door Corsa model grades and 7 different five door options. The basic model
is the three-door-only ‘Expression’. The S model, ‘Exclusiv’, SE, ‘Active’, SXi, SRi and Limited Edition
follow. These add incremental improvements to onboard tech, interior comfort and exterior styling. The
three-door version also includes the sporty-VXR range, with unique interiors, dashboards and other
quirks such as motor-sport styled pedals. Prices range between £9,495 and £22,305.




© 2012 Nationwide Vehicle Contracts Limited                                                            8
Key Features on the mid-range SXi model include:

        16-inch alloy wheels;
        Cruise control,
        60/40 split folding rear seat;
        Sports instruments;
        Leather steering wheel;
        Multi-function trip computer
        Adjustable steering column.

Pros

        Fantastic interior quality;
        Emphasises safety;
        Good Fuel Economy;
        Low insurance rates.

Cons

        Not especially fast;
        Versions with plenty of extras are comparatively costly;
        2011 model was criticised for reliability in some consumer surveys.




© 2012 Nationwide Vehicle Contracts Limited                                    9
Honda Jazz
Class: Supermini

Production: 2001 to Present

On the road: 232,671

Called the ‘Honda Fit’ in Asia and the Americas (we’re not surprised they changed it), the Honda Jazz was
introduced to Europe in 2002, though the name had previously been used as a regional alternative for the
old Honda City. The current second generation model attempts to address criticism of its predecessors’
handling and rigidity, though the vehicle still tends to score lowly on this point. It also emphasises interior
space, with ample cabin and a large boot. The Jazz has picked up an award for ‘Best Overall Value’ in the
American magazine Consumer Reports every year since 2010.

Technical specifications
In addition to twelve different model grades featuring a mixture of engine size, fuel / transmission types
and additional features, Honda Jazz buyers can also opt for a Petrol Hybrid version of the motor. All
available versions offer five doors. The basic model (the 1.2 i-VTEC Honda Jazz S) costs from £11,605 and
the most expensive model (the 1.3 Hybrid Honda Jazz HX-T) costs £19,335.




© 2012 Nationwide Vehicle Contracts Limited                                                            10
Key Features on the Mid-Range EX model include:

        1.4 i-VTEC Petrol engine with a choice of Manual or Continuously Variable Transmission;
        Panoramic glass roof;
        Cruise control;
        Privacy glass;
        Bluetooth hands-free telephone;
        16” alloy wheels;
        Auto headlights;
        CO2: 128g/km.

Pros:

        Extremely practical and extensive interior space;
        Very reliable;
        Economical;
        Scores highly on safety tests;

Cons:

        Relatively expensive;
        Some complaints about interior materials;
        Unremarkable handling.




© 2012 Nationwide Vehicle Contracts Limited                                                        11
Toyota Yaris
Class: Supermini

Production: 1999 to Present

On the Road: 360,682

The history of the Yaris starts in 1998, when its Japanese equivalent, the Toyota Vitz was released in the
manufacturer’s home nation. Three generations of designs have followed, the most recent in 2011 and
these superminis are still derived from the Vitz. Improvements include less aerodynamic drag, a spacious
interior and the Yaris is noted for its substantial safety features. However, many motoring publications
have called the drive quality into question. The car nonetheless received a ‘2012 Best Overall Value of the
Year’ award from IntelliChoice, an American consumer choice magazine.

Technical specifications
The Yaris comes in four main variations. The entry level T2 is improved upon in the Yaris TR. The Yaris SR
and Yaris T Spirit then offer incremental improvements on upholstery, suspension, wheels and other
interior and exterior features. 1.0 petrol, 1.33 petrol and 1.4 litre diesel engines are distributed across the
range (the 1.0 only available in the T2 model). The Yaris T2 starts from £11,235 and the premium T Spirit
model starts from £14,735.




© 2012 Nationwide Vehicle Contracts Limited                                                            12
Key Features on the Mid-Range Yaris TR model include:

        15” Alloy wheels;
        Touch-screen multimedia system with Bluetooth connectivity;
        Rear-view camera;
        Chrome detailing;
        Air Conditioning system.

Pros:

        Impeccable safety (5-Star Euro NCAP rating);
        Very reliable;
         A good range of accessories on advanced models.

Cons:

        Widely criticised for being noisy and unrefined;
        Unspectacular interior;
        Low performance engines.




© 2012 Nationwide Vehicle Contracts Limited                            13
Nissan Micra
Class: Supermini

Production: 1982 to Present

On the Road: 484,720

A popular line of small-cars in production since 1982, the current Micra is a fourth generation design on
the market since 2010. Major design goals included making the car more responsive, improving fuel
economy and making the car run more quietly. Reviewers noted that the car’s performance, safety
features and economy are all good. Pricing too was commended. However, some find the interior
uncomfortable and despite the design effort, the Micra can still be a noisy vehicle.

Technical specifications
The four main grades in the Micra range are the Visia, Acenta, Kuro/Shiro and Tekna. The Visia is the
entry-level model, with the Acenta adding additional features like air-conditioning, electric door mirrors
and bluetooth phone integration. The Kuro/Shiro adds stylish interior features and the Tekna then adds
further gadgets and interfaces (as suggested by the name). The main engine options are a 1.2 litre engine
with manual and automatic transmissions and a choice between 78.9 hp (horsepower) and 96.6 hp
output. Prices start from £9,750 with the most expensive model for £14,750.




© 2012 Nationwide Vehicle Contracts Limited                                                        14
Key Features on the Mid-Range Acenta model include:

        Bluetooth phone integration;
        Electric door mirrors;
        Split folding rear seats;
        15” Alloy Wheels;
        Air conditioning.

Pros:

        Solid safety credentials (four-star Euro NCAP) and generous safety features (front, side, curtain
         airbags);
        Nissan has a good reputation for reliability;
        Appealing entry-level price;
        Generous cabin space.

Cons:

        Small boot;
        Chairs are said to be uncomfortable;
        Offers a noisy drive.




© 2012 Nationwide Vehicle Contracts Limited                                                        15
Audi A1
Class: Supermini

Production: 2010 to Present

On the Road: 118,842

The Audi brand has tended to associate itself with sports cars and luxury vehicles over the lower end of
the market. In fact, prior to the 2010 release of the A1, the last real Supermini-class car from the German
manufacturer (nowadays owned by Volkswagen) was the Audi 50, back in the mid-1970s. The A1 is
unsurprisingly pitched as a luxury small car, playing to Audi’s reputation for quality in a smaller format
than usual. Reception to the car has definitely been positive, with only gripes about boot space and cost
being notable. The A1 TFSI Sport was named What Car? ‘Car of the Year’ in 2011.

Technical specifications
The most basic model of the A1 is the A1 SE, available in 1.2 TFSI and 1.6 TDI forms. Above these models
you will find the A1 Sport and A1 S Line, which offer a wide range of engine capacities as well as
transmission types. These models are mirrored in the A1 Sportback range (which put five seats and five




© 2012 Nationwide Vehicle Contracts Limited                                                        16
doors into the same space). Above even these are the luxury A1 ‘Editions’ with stylish interior and
exterior enhancements. The A1 SE 1.2 TFSI starts the range off at £13,420 on the road. Prices for the
luxury models climb as high as £21,815.

Key Features on the mid-range A1 Sport model include:

        16” Alloy Wheels;
        Sports suspension;
        Leather multifunctional steering-wheel;
        Bluetooth phone interface;
        Voice controlled telephone and radio;
        Driver Information System including on-board trip computer and digital speedometer.

Pros:

        Solid engine performance, even on smallest models;
        Fantastic handling;
        Comfortable for drivers and passengers;
        Expected to retain value;
        Cheap to run.

Cons:

        Boot size is not massively generous;
        Four seats rather than five (except in Sportback);
        Costs more than the vast majority of small cars.




© 2012 Nationwide Vehicle Contracts Limited                                                    17
Kia Picanto
Class: City Car

Production: 2004 to Present

On the Road: 85,413

Known as the Kia Morning back in its native South Korea, the Picanto has been a feature of UK roads since
2004. The current second generation began production in 2011. The car has been complimented for the
quality of its interior, fuel economy, safety and low purchase price. Performance, handling and moderate
noise as criticisms commonly levelled at the vehicle.

Technical specifications
The Picanto is offered in three and five door flavours. The five door models are handily graded as the
Picanto 1, 2 and 3, whereas three door models are graded in the following ascending order: 1, ‘Halo’ and
‘Equinox’. The usual exterior and interior upgrades are offered with each step-up: greater entertainment
centre functionality, larger alloy wheels, more stylish upholstery and other perks. Prices start at an
impressively slight £7,995 on the road. The most expensive model (Picanto Halo 1.25 4-speed auto) is
£12,295.




© 2012 Nationwide Vehicle Contracts Limited                                                       18
Key Features on the Mid-Range Picanto 2 model include:

        14” alloy wheels;
        Electrically operated door-mirrors;
        Air conditioning;
        Electric windows;
        Bluetooth with voice recognition.

Pros:

        Price;
        Four star Euro NCAP safety rating;
        Several models emit less than 100 g/km than CO2;
        Small stature;
        High reliability and seven year warranty cover.

Cons:

        Low performance engines;
        Unspectacular handling;
        Can be noisy when revving (but relatively smooth when up to speed).




© 2012 Nationwide Vehicle Contracts Limited                                    19
BMW Mini Hatchback
Class: City Car

Production: 2001 to Present

On the Road: 397,692

Automotive resources typically draw a distinction between the new BMW mini and the original two-door
mini line (which debuted in 1959, marketed as the Austin Seven and Morris Mini-Minor). The modern
mini has been in production since 2001 (several years after BMW had acquired the marque) and it tries to
capture some measure of the original’s spirit and styling, whilst offering a contemporary driving
experience. The Mini Hatchback is currently in its second generation (2007 to present). Strengths include
performance, handling, superb resale value and, of course, style. Weaknesses include a lack of interior
space (four people and a tiny boot) and the initial expense.

Technical specifications
The wider Mini range includes coupe, roadster, convertible and larger-sized variants, but the hatchback is
the more traditional small-car. Mini hatches are graded thusly: Mini First, One, Cooper and Cooper S. ‘D’
models are Diesel engined variations on the above. There are also a number of limited editions for the
luxury and high-performance consumer. Prices on the Mini First start at £12,119. Top end models like the
Mini Cooper SD Bayswater cost as much as £23,380.




© 2012 Nationwide Vehicle Contracts Limited                                                       20
Key Features on the Mid-Range Mini Cooper model include:

        15 inch alloy wheels;
        Air conditioning;
        Electric windows;
        Electric mirrors;
        Remote central locking;
        Wide range of optional stylings available on interior and exterior detail.

Pros:

        Popular and stylish interior and exterior;
        Despite the size, plenty of leg and headroom in the cabin;
        High performance;
        Great handling;
        Retains value;
        Five Year / 50,000 mile routine service cost cover.

Cons:

        Limited boot space;
        More Expensive than much of the competition;
        Noisier when travelling at top-speed;
        Can be difficult to get into the rear-seats.




© 2012 Nationwide Vehicle Contracts Limited                                           21
Renault Clio
Class: Supermini

Production: 1990 to Present

On the Road: 667,792

After struggling through the 80s, Renault established itself as a major player in the motoring industry with
the original 1990 Clio (European Car of the Year 1991). The Clio is currently in its third generation, which
was launched in 2006 and face-lifted in 2009. 4 metres long, this is a generation that stretches the
definition of ‘supermini’. Strengths include a steady drive, ample comfort and a little style mixed in with
utility. Negative reviews tend to focus on price (and its tendency to lose second hand value rapidly) and
the overly basic entry-models.

Technical specifications
The basic Clio model is the Expression+. The Dynamique, GT Line and Renaultsport follow, the later lacks
five door and diesel options (Renault’s dCi 88 engines badged with their eco2 technology). The Expression
starts at £11,625 on the road and Limited Edition versions of the Renaultsport cost as much as £21,835.




© 2012 Nationwide Vehicle Contracts Limited                                                         22
Key Features on the Mid-Range Dynamique TomTom 1.2TCe 100 model include:

        Electric / heated door mirrors;
        16” alloy wheels;
        Cruise control;
        Heated rear windscreen;
        60:40 split folding rear seat;
        Manual air conditioning;
        Bluetooth hands-free system;
        TomTom navigation system.

Pros:

        Plenty of space in the cabin;
        Diesel versions operate very efficiently;
        Comfortable driving, especially on urban roads;
        Great performance, if you pay for it;
        Prices may be high, but there are good deals out there;
        Five Star Euro NCAP safety rating.

Cons:

        Resale value not brilliant;
        Lack of interior flair;
        Minor reliability concerns;
        Expression models have few accessories.




© 2012 Nationwide Vehicle Contracts Limited                                23
SEAT Ibiza
Class: Supermini

Production: 1984 to Present

On the Road: 149,286

The SEAT Ibiza has been in production since 1984 and has long been the most popular model in the SEAT
range. The current generation is the fourth, though bizarrely, the original generation was still being
rebadged in China as recently as 2008. The Ibiza name evokes the young, trendy spirit of the party island
itself and the current generation has a popular exterior styling which reflects this. Other commonly cited
pros include driving position, economical engines and affordable running costs. Drawbacks include a
lacklustre interior, operational noise and concerns about rear visibility.

Technical specifications
The entry level Ibiza is the E model. The following S A/C model adds air-conditioning (as suggested by the
name) and a handful of other minor accessories. Above this model you will find the Ecomotive model (the
expected low-emission version), the mid-range SE and the premium FR model. The latter two offer eye-




© 2012 Nationwide Vehicle Contracts Limited                                                       24
catching styling, bigger engines and more features, as you’d expect. The cheapest 3 Door E model costs
just £9,995 on the road and 5 door FR models cost as much as £16,840.

Key Features on the Mid-Range SE model include:

        15” alloy wheels;
        Chrome accents;
        Electric-heated door mirrors;
        Air conditioning;
        Trip computer;
        Split folding rear seat.

Pros:

        Affordable to purchase and run;
        Stylish looks;
        Fuel Efficient;
        Good suspension;
        Above average reliability;
        Comfortable in the driving seat.

Cons:

        Rear can be cramped;
        Noisy when up to speed;
        Rear window offers a restricted view.




© 2012 Nationwide Vehicle Contracts Limited                                                    25
VW Polo
Class: Supermini

Production: 1975 to Present

On the Road: 561,411

The venerable old Polo is one of the longest serving superminis, currently in its fifth generation after
nearly forty years on the market. This generation’s model was declared European Car of the Year 2010
and won an international Car of the Year accolade at the New York Auto Show. The car is favourably
priced, spacious, economical and it features a level of quality associated with the VW brand. Criticism has
focused on the stinginess of the entry-level models and the apparently common perception that other
cars are ‘more fun to drive’.

Technical specifications
Polo’s entry level representative is the Polo S. An upgraded air conditioner equipped S A/C model is
considered distinct. The next major model is the Match, which adds typical mid-range features such as
alloy wheels and a multi-device interface. The Polo SEL adds a multi-function computer alongside other
improvements. High-end models include the R-Line and GTI, with the BlueMotion offering the now




© 2012 Nationwide Vehicle Contracts Limited                                                        26
obligatory environmentally-conscious premium option. Polo S models start the range off at £9,920 and
the most expensive GTI is £19,330 on the road.

Key Features on the Mid-Range Match model include:

        Air conditioning;
        15” alloy wheels;
        Multi-device interface (MDI);
        Remote central locking;
        6 speaker radio / CD player with aux-in socket;
        Electric windows.

Pros:

        VW quality throughout;
        Neither expensive to buy nor run;
        Low emissions, though Bluemotion models especially impressive;
        Five star Euro NCAP crash test score;
        Plenty of front-seat space.

Cons:

        Middling rear-seat and boot space;
        Entry-level Equipment and engines lacking;
        Whilst good, handling could be better.




© 2012 Nationwide Vehicle Contracts Limited                                                  27
Part Three: Conclusion and the Future of Small Car Motoring
Current priorities in vehicle research and development are making ultra-small cars somewhat less
necessary. For instance, concerns about road safety have caused small cars to adopt larger, more
structurally ‘safe’ forms to chase consumer demand for such features. Then there’s the demand for
efficiency in the face escalating fuel prices: small cars no longer have such a defined advantage, because
larger cars are benefiting from research into more efficient engines.

Nonetheless, small cars are becoming safer and they do remain a consistently economical,
environmentally friendly drive by comparison. And improvements in large car specification do nothing to
diminish the traditional appeal of owning a small car: they’re more fun to drive, they’re easier to park,
cheaper to purchase, cheaper to insure, ideal for new drivers and generally, just a fantastic deal.

Influential small car trends: China
Since 2008, China has been the world’s leading automobile manufacturer. In 2009 it produced 13.79
million cars. And with a rapidly expanding number of people able to afford them, the majority are actually
produced for domestic customers (in 2011, exports reached 814,300 units – substantial, but nothing
compared to the domestic market).

Small, affordable cars play an important role in this market, but it would be wrong to characterise the
country as being dependent on these small vehicles: small family cars and larger, luxury vehicles are
selling very strongly. Whereas ultra-low-cost cars are a booming industry in the comparable Indian
market, sales of these kinds of vehicles in China are falling.3 Chinese manufacturers who created these
smaller micro and city cars are now making vehicles which can compete with safer, higher performance
vehicles from the foreign manufacturers who have moved production into the country.

Nonetheless, the Chinese Government is keen to encourage small car manufacture – especially if such
cars are more environmentally friendly. In 2009, the central government announced that it aimed to aid
production of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles to the point where they accounted for 5% of all
passenger vehicle sales. Being innovative in these areas is viewed positively because it would give local
manufacturers the edge over foreign companies, which have sluggishly adopted the tech.

Where is alternative fuel driving us?
Even in long-standing markets, the future of the small car isn’t entirely clear. The move that motorists are
slowly making towards alternative fuel sources could actually go several ways. On the one hand, fully
electric vehicles would benefit from being smaller (i.e. by having less mass to haul about), though the
larger the car, the more space can be allocated to battery cells. On the other hand, the ultra-efficient
Hybrid set-up favours a larger-vehicle trend, considering that such vehicles require room for two separate
power sources.

For now, the status quo is being maintained. Of the 8 (unique) vehicles covered by the UK’s low-emission
plug-in vehicle scheme, just two of the qualifying models are hybrids (the Prius and the Chevy Volt) and



3
    http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/90001/90778/7145766.html



© 2012 Nationwide Vehicle Contracts Limited                                                         28
both are out of the small-car range, echoing the point above about hybrid-size. The fully electric vehicles
are a mix of large (Nissan Leaf, Renault Fluence ZE) and small (Smart Fortwo, i-Miev, Indica Vista).

Whatever happens, small-cars will still exist as a category: they remain convenient in certain contexts
even if efficiency alone may push the industry towards a larger or smaller trend. We look forward to
seeing how this sector develops over the next decade.




© 2012 Nationwide Vehicle Contracts Limited                                                        29

								
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