Throw “Sport” on a car, and I’m going to expect certain things from it. So I wasn’t kind to the first FIAT 500 I reviewed. But, as with people, I’m always willing to give a car a second take from a more amenable angle. To avoid bits I didn’t care for, I requested the base-level “Pop” trim with an automatic transmission. Chrysler counter-offered a top-level Lounge. In brown. With brown leather. Not quite what I asked for, but as a member of the Brown Car Appreciation Society (sans card, alas) I felt duty bound to accept.
Though the Chevrolet Spark has been in GM’s small-car spotlight this week, the firm’s Opel division is working hard on yet another tiny A-segment city car, tentatively known as the Junior or Allegra. Built on a shortened Opel Corsa platform, the Allegra will be a three-door, four-seat model targeted at the low end of the European market, at an estimated price of €10k. With a European debut targeted for the end of next year, Opel hopes to take the fight to the VW Up! And after it debuts, the smallest, cheapest Opel will become the home of an entirely new generation of small Opel-developed engines, with hybrid and EV versions rumored as well. Will it end up coming to the US as a Cadillac city car, as tipped by the recent ULC Concept? If gas prices go up, at least that option will be on the table…
If you have a pulse and a willful ignorance of the local speed limit, you’re probably not interested in the Chevrolet Spark. If you’re a media-savvy hipster who’s on Facebook sixteen hours a day, you’re probably not interested in the Spark, either. If you’re a techno-geek or an eco-geek, you’re probably still not interested in the Chevrolet Spark.
If you need something to get you from point Alpha to point Beta and aren’t willing to pay too much, you might be interested in the Spark. But only after all the alternatives have been removed from your short-list as being too sensible. And even then, a lobotomy might be required to help you make up your mind.
That’s a shame, because the Spark isn’t really that bad.
It will come as no surprise to regular TTAC readers when I say that Scion has had some sales issues lately. But instead of euthanizing the brand as some on TTAC have suggested, Toyota has decided to take a different route. Thankfully, rather than creating more me-too models based off of US-market Toyotas, the plan includes some JDM/Euro models and the much anticipated “Toyobaru “sports car. The first object of foreign desire landing stateside to start off Scion’s resurrection is the Toyota iQ micro-car. The iQ should be in showrooms across the country soon, but does Scion have the IQ to make a smarter Smart?
When asked by thenational.ae if he preferred to drive his McLaren F1 or Mclaren-Mercedes SLR to work everyday, the man who designed both legendary hypercars, Gordon Murray demurs:
I wouldn’t say the SLR is quite an everyday car but I certainly like to drive it to work. But for me, despite all those cars and my single-seater Rocket [a car he privately designed], it’s the [eight year-old Smart Roadster] I’m most taken with. For one, it’s a great-looking car. It has a power roof, heated seats and air con, and it all weighs just 830kg. In fact, it’s got all you’d want from a car. It nips around corners and it’s fun to drive.
So, other than proving that Murray has exquisite taste (I’d kill you all for a Brabus Smart Roadster Coupe), what’s the point? That, having been there and done that in the world of high performance, Murray’s taking on a less obviously sexy but ultimately significant project that first occurred to him in a traffic jam back in 1993: the T.25 and T.27 city cars. We’ve written about Murray’s T.25 before, but the real news today is the release of specs for the T.27, an all-electric version of the tiny three-seater. And yes, it weighs 1,500 lbs on the nose (including batteries), and ekes 100 miles of range out of just 12 kWh. That beats the efficiency of competitors like the Smart EV (by 29%), the Mitsubishi iMiEV (by 36%) and MINI E (by 86%). So, how does it do it?
According to a recent projection, GM will be selling over 2m vehicles on its Gamma (Aveo) platform by 2016… and thanks to Cadillac’s Urban Luxury Concept, we know what the most profitable iteration of that platform could look like. Yes, it’s the new-wave Cimarron of the future, inspired by such pedigreed city-car competitors as the Aston-Martin Cygnet and the Bugatti Petit Sport Sang de Navet. And with Lambo doors and a grille that would put a crunk rapper to shame, the littlest Caddy certainly does everything it can to distract from its humble (presumably budget Korean hatchback) roots. Because, as lead designer Frank Saucedo puts it
There is no minimum size for a Cadillac driving experience.
But there is a minimum volume per platform target… and the importance of this metric almost guarantees that, in some way or another, the Cimarron will ride again.
The need to expand automotive brands while improving fuel economy is driving automakers to some interesting lengths of late. From GM future concepts that have more in common with a Segway than a Cruze, to Honda’s U-3X and Chrysler’s ill-fated PeaPod, automakers are sending strong hints that the future will be smaller and decidedly less car-like. And MINI and Smart recently took this trend to its logical conclusion, each announcing that they would build (or, more precisely, re-brand) scooters… or as they call them, “alternative mobility concepts.” Which raises the question: what’s a scooter brand to do? Well, Piaggio, maker of the Vespa and other scooter-based “alternative mobility concepts” isn’t going to just drone off into that good night, and it’s fighting back by creating an “alternative” to its core scooter products: a four wheeled car-like “mobility concept.”
What happens when the man behind the McLaren F1 decides to chuck in the go-fast nonsense and devote his considerable energies towards developing a “revolutionary” city car? You’re looking at it. Autocar caught this first image of Gordon Murray‘s three-seat T.25 testing in the UK, and from the looks of it, all the talk of this car creating a new segment wasn’t just talk. We knew it was going to be small, but my god is it ever small. And, as Autocar reports, this first image of the T.25’s near-production look shows off one of its most distinctive features:
Our exclusive photograph shows the car’s compact dimensions and reveals the revolutionary single door for the first time. It swings upwards and forwards to allow cabin access for all three occupants.
That’s right, a swinging single-door design, and Mclaren F1-style “arrowhead” seating. What did you expect, a rebadged Toyota iQ?
The Aston Martin Cygnet: because the auto industry just isn’t surreal enough these days. For its next trick, the Aston Martin grille will be appearing on a Corolla. Is there a photoshopper in the house?