So after the big trucks, one of the most popular segments at the Montreal Auto Show was small cars. A sign of changing times? Maybe, but be warned, small cars in America are not like those in Europe. So yes, there are small things like the Smart driving around Montreal (I might have seen 2 in 6 months), but generally something like a Golf would be considered small.
So to start off, Kia had some interesting cars to present. Yes, there was the new 2014 Forte, which looks pretty good, but my eyes were on the older 2013 Kia Koup (sort of Cee’d sized), a car we do not get in Europe unfortunately. In racing dress it looked very potent. After all, a small coupé for younger crowds, how can you not like that? Unfortunately it is only front wheel-drive, and soon to be replaced, so let’s move on. Chevrolet did have big trucks, but as we know in Europe, small cars are one of their strengths. In fact, the 2013 Chevrolet Sonic RS Turbo (known as the Aveo in Europe) looked like a fun little warm hatch. 1.4l turbocharged engine for 138hp, in a small light body, an old-school hot-hatch if you will. But it could do with more power to live up to the RS Turbo name….
And then, after a few stands, there was the 2013 Subaru BRZ. Sorry for all the pictures, but I truly love that car. Will it be my first brand new car? Very possibly! It was even chosen as the first JustDrive There Car of the Year. Just look at it, it speaks for itself. I just can’t wait to drive it! On another stand, Hyundai had the Veloster, also trying to aim the same market as the BRZ, which is younger people who want a fun car. As funky as it is on the outside, it does not excite me as much as the BRZ unfortunately… Let us not forget the venerable Mazda MX5 also, which is still alive. It is a fun little roadster, but try as I might, I am having a hard time finding it interesting. Maybe a drive in one could help with that, who knows? Moving on….
Mitsubishi had a very interesting car on display. It may look like a Mirage, but officially, in Canada at least, it had no name (basically, they do not have the rights to the name yet). This was the first time I have ever heard of such a thing, a car, officially presented with no name! Another small Mitsubishi was the electric i-Miev. It is an interesting looking car, but way too overpriced. Nissan however, had the 2013 Leaf. This electric car, on the other hand, is very appealing, principally because it is actually a good car. Inside it is comfortable and modern, and apparently it is good enough to go on longer drives. It is in fact the most popular electric car in the world at the moment, though not meeting sales targets.
Speaking of failing sales, Suzuki, who officially aren’t in the USA anymore, had a stand in Montreal. Nothing much to write about there, apart from the Kizashi which looks good and is actually a nice place to sit in also. It is a pity they are doing so badly, considering the success they are having in India.
After all this sensible talk of electric cars and sales, we can now move on to the fun stuff. Ford were very pleased to show off their world car, the Focus, in its ST form. I am still not a fan of the looks, and the inside is a very acquired taste. It is fast though. However, the pièce de résistance for me was at the Scion stand. The FRS, the sister car to the Toyota GT86 and Subaru BRZ was showcased in its signature orange. Nothing much to say, apart from the fact that I want one so badly. The drift version was also there, for local Canadian racer Pat Cyr. It looks menacing…. Oh, and for European readers, Scion is basically a sub-brand for Toyota aimed at a younger market in North America. Therefore, the IQ is presented as a hip-small car that cool people drive. Scion also have the TC, a small coupe, sort of like the Kia Koup, aimed at first time drivers. It looks fun enough, but like the Koup, it is front wheel-drive. The FRS is really the car you need.
From Italy, the new Dodge Dart GT was shown off in the ubiquitous white colour. I joke, but it looks like a very good car. It is designed properly, seems well made, and the chassis is a big improvement on the Neon. The interior could use some work though. Oh, and the Fiat 500 Abarth was on the same stand, in that other ubiquitous colour, red. Sales are not good as expected, but it still remains a good exciting hot hatchback.
From Germany, Volkswagen were doing what they do best, improving on history. The 2013 Golf GTI may be a few years old now, but it is still one good car. As some people say, it is all the car you could ever need. Now, we just have to wait on the Mk7 GTI. The new New Beetle is the definite example on how to make to improve on a mistake. The old New Beetle was just a round blob of a car, but this new one almost seems like a hot-rod version of the Beetle. The Cabriolet version is very feminine though, even in black. Put it this way, compared to the black cabrio, that light blue model presented with Fender speakers, looks like a man’s car. A desirable 21st century Beetle? Who would have known?
To finish off, I need to show you two good, but somewhat forgotten cars. First off, the Lexus CT200h. It is a Lexus, so an overall good car, and a hatch-back, to appeal to younger markets, and a hybrid, for the environments sake. Kylie Minogue was the spokesperson for it, yet we never see it in the streets. Same thing for the Mini Coupe. But then, that car has a pretty ridiculous roof.
So there we go, for the “small” cars. Tomorrow will be concepts. Stay tuned, there is a world premiere!