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Ask AutoGuide No. 40
We’re thinking small on this week’s installment of Ask AutoGuide, where value reigns supreme. Are cheap and cheerful mutually exclusive traits or can they really coexist in an automobile? We aim to find out and help one faithful reader in the process.
Grab a piñata we're having a Fiesta!
Smaller is better. Obviously this isn’t true in every situation but for many drivers a compact or sub-compact car will meet their needs just as nicely as a midsize sedan or even some crossovers. After decades of neglect, automakers have finally started to share some of their excellent B-Segment offerings with American motorists. If you’ve been thinking about downsizing there really hasn’t been a better time to do it.
Honda has just introduced the third generation 2015 Fit for the American market. Set to go on sale this spring, Honda promises this new Fit will continue to offer great interior space and fuel efficiency while retaining the fun-to-drive reputation this little hatchback has earned over the years.
Well if you happen to live in Kia’s home market of S. Korea, you could look into their newest offering, dubbed the Ray.
While the name might sound similar to the sea creature, the Kia Ray is neither sleek or stealthy. What it is, is a boxy city car for people who live in major metropolitan cities like Seoul.
The skin is very much in keeping with the style of all modern Kia’s, so it has a wide grille accented with chrome, plus L.E.D. daytime running lights.
What lies under the skin is anybody’s guess at the moment, although it could very possibly be carrying the three-cylinder, 1.0-liter engine or the four-cylinder, 1.25-liter engine currently offered in the Picanto, a model Kia sells in Asia and Europe, but not North America. An electric version of the Ray is also rumored.
It is also believed that while the Ray does not use the Picanto platform, much of the hardware will be shared between the two models to reduce cost.
What will surely be very unique to the Ray is the way its doors are arranged. While the rear door behind the driver opens conventionally, the rear passenger door slides, like in a minivan.
The Kia Ray might not make it to the North American market, but it could be headed to showrooms in other Asian markets like China.
Pricing for Scion‘s 2012 xD model has been announced with the five-speed manual set at $16,075 and the four-speed automatic at $16,875, including a delivery, processing and handling fee of $730.
In addition, Scion announced that Bluetooth hands-free connectivity and streaming audio along with HD Radio are now standard for the 2012 xD model. The vehicle will feature Pioneer’s audio system with a 160-watt amplifier, USB port, AUX port, and subwoofer RCA output.
An option for a premium 200-watt Pioneer audio system with a 5.8-inch LCD screen will be offered for the 2012 xD. It also packs six RCAs outputs to allow multiple amplifiers. Standard on the xD are your run-of-the-mill features such as power steering, windows, door locks and mirrors, remote keyless entry, air conditioning and four-wheel anti-lock brakes, to name a few.
There hasn’t been a lot of buzz generated around the new 2012 Nissan Versa since its unveiling back in April at the New York Auto Show, so it’s completely understandable if one were led to believe that the Versa will manage limited success. On the other hand, Versa’s biggest competitor Hyundai Accent set off to an early lead as Hyundai managed to move a thousand more units than any subcompact, including the Versa, in its first full month of sales.
Surprisingly, this has become the perfect example of the tortoise and the hare as numbers now show that as of August, the 2012 Nissan Versa is the new best-selling subcompact in the United States– trumping the Hyundai Accent, Honda Fit, Ford Fiesta, Mazda2, Chevrolet Aveo and Toyota Yaris.
This isn’t necessarily to say that the Nissan Versa is a superior product, but as it is currently the least expensive car sold in North America at $10,990, individuals who buy the Versa won’t be too concerned about performance specs anyway. As for the numbers, the 2012 Versa comes with a 1.6 liter I-4, producing 109 horsepower and 107 lb-ft of torque. The CVT helps to optimize the Versa’s efficiency, achieving 30/38-mpg city/highway.
GALLERY: 2012 Nissan Versa/Sunny
The all new stylish 2012 Toyota Vitz model, sold here as the Yaris, appears to have new photos, that is if these pics from a Hungarian Toyota dealership’s Facebook page are anything to go by.
In an age where fuel economy is a major selling aspect, the subcompact B-segment is more important than ever, and the new Yaris fits the description.
The new Yaris functionally has gained some size. In total, the Yaris grows 100mm from end to end, with half of that between the wheelbase for more interior room. The car has also grown 20mm shorter overall, probably to lower the center of gravity and improve handling. The new model in Japan has a range of small four cylinder engines, but we should expect a 1.5L version as the sole option.
Stay tuned for more details!
GALLERY: 2012 Toyota Yaris
For all the hype surrounding Ford‘s Fiesta subcompact, which is capable of hitting 40 mpg, it looks like subcompacts, especially those than can hit the vaunted number, aren’t selling all that well in the USA.
Even though gas prices will almost certainly hit $3 a gallon, customers are still gravitating towards compact cars, according to Cars.com’s David Thomas. This means vehicles like the Chevrolet Cruze and Hyundai Elantra are well positioned with their 40 mpg fuel economy numbers, spacious interior and premium features…but if gas prices keep going past $3 (and they almost certainly will) then the sub compact segment may see a resurgence, just like the summer of 2008 when gas was around $4.
The big winners in the segment are still the Nissan Versa and Honda Fit respectively, with the Versa enjoying a nearly 3,000 unit lead over the Fit in November. Hyundai’s Accent and the Fit are nearly neck and neck, while the Fiesta comes in at fourth place, but cars like the Chevrolet Aveo and Toyota Yaris are nipping at its heels, even with stale-dated designs and no 40 mpg capability. We think the significant delta in price between a bare bones Aveo and a more expensive Fiesta hatch may have something to do with this.
[Source: Kicking Tires]
Honda has given its European market Jazz (also known as the Fit to us North Americans) a mild refresh, and confirmed availability of the Jazz Hybrid that debuted at the 2010 Paris Auto Show.
A front end re-style drops the drag co-efficient to 0.33, and the 1.2L and 1.4L powerplants get minor reductions in CO2 emissions. Higher-grade materials adorn the cabin, while leather seats are an option on higher trim levels.
Most significant is the option of a CVT transmission, something that was apparently quite popular on the first generation Jazz. The CVT will be standard equipment on the Jazz Hybrid, and an option on 1.4L engine cars.
Hyundai‘s subcompact crossover, the ix20, will be revealed at this month’s Paris Auto Show media days, but the company has released a rendering of the car in advance of its launch.
Based on the Kia Venga, the ix20 is an interesting blend of a crossover and small car, similar to a Ford Fiesta hatchback. With the Accent filling Hyundai’s subcompact role in North America, it’s unlikely that the ix20 will make it to our shores, but if you go to Europe, don’t be surprised to find yourself renting one.
Check out Autoguide’s Paris Auto Show Preview for more info and coverage of the Hyundai ix20
[Source: Auto Express]
Kia‘s Soul compact car has a commanding lead over the Nissan Cube and Scion xB, outselling the Cube by a near 2:1 margin. But Kia is hesitant to expand the Soul’s lineup by spinning off variants of the boxy small car in the quest to increase sales.
Speaking to Ward’s Auto, Orth Hedrick, director of product planning at Kia, the Soul “tends to be a niche vehicle.” “There is very high appeal to a very narrow group of buyers.”
Kia introduced the Soul’ter convertible concept at the 2009 Detroit Auto Show, but so far there has been little push to build it. Structural changes as well as design considerations would necessitate a substantial investment that would be hard to justify.
On the other hand, Kia’s 88% rise in the geographic market that covers New York City and Boston is largely attributed to the Soul, and Hedrick knows this well. “We’re very fortunate the product is relevant in all parts of the country, but clearly the Northeast is a success for us,” he said.
The Soul is due for a re-fresh in 2012.
[Source: Ward's Auto]
The Volkswagen Polo is best known for its hatchback bodystyle, but certain markets, like Russia, prefer a traditional sedan bodystyle. VW threw a bone to 4-door lovers in Moscow, when it unveiled its new Polo sedan, but the big news for us is that the Polo sedan is a lock to come to North America, as VW ramps up its quest to push 800,000 vehicles out the door each year by 2018.
The Russian Polo sedan will come with a 1.6L 103 horsepower four-cylinder with either a 5-speed manual or a 6-speed automatic gearbox, numbers that seem a little low for North American tastes. We’re hoping the 1.2 TSI turbo engine, or better yet, the Polo GTI, make it across the pond, but we won’t hold our breath.
Gallery: Volkswagen Polo Sedan
Hit the jump for the original press release