Current Trends in Small Cars - Small is Big

Design Comments
By Robert Cumberford

Honda CR-Z
It's not as good-looking as the beloved CRX was in its time, but it's still a very attractive, sporty two-seater that tens of thousands of happy drivers will likely enjoy, all the while saving money on fuel. A true Honda.

Toyota FT-CH
It's almost unbelievable to see a really good-looking four-door from Toyota, but the FT-CH is exactly that - and an economical hybrid to boot. Whether or not a production version retains the stylistic charm, this car should be highly successful.

Chevrolet Aveo
The show-car front end seen in Detroit looks a bit like a chicken coop on wheels, with its four oversize wire-textured openings, but the body shape is strong and the car ought to do well in our market.

Chevrolet Spark
Paraphrasing the rockabilly song, "there's a whole lotta stylin' goin' on." Bumps, indents, strangely pointed front-fender shapes, and oversize hip bones above the rear wheels force this tiny city car to support a lot more surface detail than it should have to. Ideal for the young? I don't think so.

Audi E-tron
This second iteration of the ineptly named Audi electric sports car was the prettiest car at the Detroit show, with classic proportions, beautifully handled surfaces, and a superb interior. Nothing's really new, but it embodies the best contemporary design thinking, as the Italian coachbuilders used to do.

Ford Focus
Those big black triangles alongside the grille are less than elegant, but the rest of the car is decent. It's fairly aerodynamic and cheerfully aggressive, with good visual solidity. In many ways, it represents a return to the basic Ford family sedans that sustained the company post-Model T.

Ford Fiesta
Actually more refined in its design than the bigger Focus, the Fiesta will do everything that most Americans need to have done by commuter and small-family cars, with outstanding economy and better handling than has been available in small cars up to now, apart from the Mini Cooper.

Chevrolet Cruze
Stylistically, it's something of a rounder-roofline mini Malibu, and it carries the established Chevy front-end theme well. A hundred horsepower per liter used to be racing-car output. The Cruze is a good bet for small-car stardom.

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