If you've been busy memorizing the stratospheric horsepower and torque numbers from Mercedes-Benz's latest AMG engine or reliving the muscle-car glory days with the Chevy Camaro and Dodge Challenger concepts, you may not have noticed that small cars are getting cool. Perhaps it's the pendulum finally starting to swing back from outsized SUVs and ever-more-gargantuan pickups. There also could be some rub-off from the digital world, where smallness is prized. And that three-dollars-per-gallon gasoline scare last fall likely spurred things along. Whatever the factors, small cars have begun to acquire a cachet of coolness they haven't had in decades.
Of course, some small cars are able to pull off the coolness thing better than others. The Mini Cooper probably does it best of all; its raffish Brit charm and undeniable cuteness combined with a "let's party" attitude allowing it not merely to get away with being small but actually to boast about it. But the BMW-developed Mini is a premium small car-a novel concept in America. That label also applies to the Volkswagen Golf... Read full article