I love little cars. They generally are much more fun to drive, handle like go-karts, and get great mileage. They populate the entire world… except here in the U.S.A. We do get a few, but not much in the way of real choice, and the ones that end up on our shores are boxy, ugly, under-performing, or all three.
In Mexico I saw what they call superminis everywhere. Some of them, like this SEAT Ibiza (above, right), are really sharp and bigger inside than they look. SEAT (“say-at”) is a Spanish carmaker now owned by Volkswagen AG, like so much else—Porsche may be next—in the auto world. The Ibiza Reference, shown here, comes with a variety of engines, weighing in from 70-105 hp, gas or diesel. Higher-powered, sportier models are available, and they look to be popular in southern Mexico. Tell SEAT to bring us its cars here. They probably won’t, but you can complain about how little choice we have.
Another sharp small car is the Ford Ka, built in Poland, Brazil, Argentina, and maybe someday in the U.S. An older version (probably 2007) is shown here, which is better looking than the new Ka that may come to these shores, according to Alan Mulally. (No, he didn’t say the older one was better looking.) Then it will have the Fiesta to compete with, so don’t hold your breath. If Ford did commit to a full lineup of small cars in the U.S., it could give Fiat/Chrysler and the Asians a real run for their money in 2011. The company’s global reach is surprising. More photos of the new Ka are here.
I asked the owner of this VW CrossFox (right) if I could take pix of his car. “Seguramente” [certainly], he said, and I realized I could get by in Spanish with phrases like this and “Si, como no?” for almost everything. One of VW’s line of “city cars,” the Fox series launched a few years ago in Brazil and has spread through Latin America in many iterations. The CrossFox is not much of an off-roader, but is great for Mexican pavement (and the lack thereof), taking the country’s many speed bumps with aplomb. Ask VW why we can’t have this car.
What other foreign-made minis and superminis do you think should be made available to U.S. buyers?