2010 Lemon Aid Superminis

 



Chevrolet Aveo / Swift+

Kia Rio, Rio 5

Nissan Versa
Ford Fiesta Mazda 2 Smart FourTwo

Honda Fit

MINI

Toyota Yaris

Hyundai Accent

   

Superminis (referred to as B-Segment cars in many markets) were once cramped, stark, slow and noisy. Those days are gone. Levels of comfort, cabin space, performance and refinement have increased to such an extent that for many people, there is no need to move beyond this segment. Features like air-conditioning, power windows, locks and mirrors are either standard or available on all of the cars in this category. 

 

Popular in the 90s, this segment went dormant when the U.S. market, which sets the trend for what vehicles are sold in Canada, soured on hatchbacks and small cars in general. The Toyota Echo (followed by the Yaris) and the Hyundai Accent were the sole cars in the segment for many years. The introduction of the Chevrolet Aveo and Suzuki Swift+ in 2004 marked a rebirth of the segment, which now includes the Honda Fit, Hyundai Accent, Kia Rio, MINI, Nissan Versa and Smart ForTwo.  

 

Sales of superminis covered in this section totalled about 125,000 in 2008, dropping to about 96,000 last year. Of these vehicles, only the Kia Rio gained sales in 2009. Sales of the Nissan Versa tumbled around 10 percent, with registrations of the Hyundai Accent and the MINI skidding by about 15 percent. Precipitous declines of 30, 35 and 40 percent were experienced respectively by the Smart ForTwo, Honda Fit and Toyota Yaris. The decline of Fit sales can be explained by high prices and poor factory incentives which resulted in uncompetitive monthly payments. The crash in sales of the Yaris and the Smart, well beyond the decline in general sales, can’t be so easily accounted for.  

 

The big news this year is the launch of two cars, the Ford Fiesta and Mazda 2, that have been acclaimed in other markets. They should both be on sale as early 2011s by the summer of 2010. The Hyundai Accent and Kia Rio, both segment stalwarts, are gently revised for 2010.   

 

Vital safety features like side-curtain airbags and Electronic Stability Control (ESC) are gradually creeping into cars in this segment. The Smart ForTwo and MINI, at the premium end of the market, are equipped with multiple airbags, ABS and ESC as standard equipment. At the fiscally frugal end of the market, the Honda Fit has ABS, seat-mounted side and side-curtain airbags as standard. Nissan’s Versa and (starting with December 2009 production), the Toyota Yaris have six airbags fitted as standard equipment, with ABS widely available and ESC offered on selected models. The Hyundai Accent and Kia Rio lack seat-mounted and side-curtain air bags except on super premium niche models of their ranges, a glaring omission. Please refer to the Safety section for each car covered in this section to determine what equipment is fitted to each model. 

 

The better cars in this class are economical to operate, very reliable, and have excellent resale value. If you are not a cash buyer, please pay attention to monthly payments, as lease and finance monthlies for the best cars in the segment can be no greater than they are for less worthy competitors.

 


  
Chevrolet Aveo

 


 

 

 

BELOW AVERAGE
GENERAL MOTORS
CHEVROLET Aveo, SUZUKI Swift+ (FWD)
Body Styles: 4SD (Aveo), 4HB (Both)
Engine: 1.6L-4 108 HP
Transmissions: 5M, 4A*

City Fuel Economy: 8.2L/100 km

 

ESC Available: No

Emissions Rating: n/a

 

What’s new

Aveo: Standard seat-mounted side airbags. Horsepower increases from 106 to 108. An up-shift indicator is standard on cars with manual transmission The Pontiac Wave was discontinued. Swift+: Late introduction 2010 model.

 

Performance

Equipped with automatic transmission, the car is smooth around town and relaxed on the highway. The manual gearchange and clutch are more precise than previously. Handling is secure but uninspiring, with some float evident at highway speeds. The steering, though nicely-weighted, lacks precision. The car has an absorbent ride. Effective braking. The driving position is conventional, and occupants will feel at ease immediately. The interior design is elegant in a classical way, with good fit and finish. Clear instruments and straightforward controls. The front seats, though too soft for some, are comfortable enough for most occupants. The dash centre-stack is bulky, and some drivers find it uncomfortably close to their right knee. Rear seat comfort and legroom are good for this size of car. The trunk on the hatchback model is short but deep, and ample cargo space can be liberated by folding the rear seats down. The trunk on the sedan is commodious for so small a car. The sound quality of the audio system is good for the price. Good exterior paint and panel fit.

 

Reliability

Below average reliability. Electrical problems are to be expected as are worn wheel bearings and suspension components. Poor corrosion resistance. Not as reliable as other Korean cars. Good underhood access. Three year/60,000 bumper to bumper warranty, 5 years/100,000 km powertrain warranty on the Suzuki, 5 years/160,000 on the Aveo.

 

Comments

Last year for these cars in their present form. Chevrolet offers hatchback and sedan body styles, Suzuki just the hatch. Made in South Korea

 

Pricing

These cars are little cheaper than a top-rated Japanese-branded supermini and seldom cost less on a monthly payment basis. Upgrading from an Aveo LS model to an LT represents reasonable value. A Yaris four door hatchback with the Convenience package is equipped with seat-mounted and side-curtain airbags, costs about $100 less than an Aveo LT hatchback equipped with ABS. The Yaris will be worth a lot more after three or four years than the Aveo will. Expensive air conditioning option on GM and Suzuki versions. In case of a write-off, depreciation may result in a payout that may be less than the balance owed on the car. Unless you live in a town where GM is the only game in town, there are better choices available.

 

Safety

Seat-mounted side airbags are standard on all versions of this car.  Side-curtain airbags not offered. Rated Acceptable in the IIHS frontal test, Marginal in the side test and Poor in the rear test. Rollover not tested by the IIHS. Ranked 4th out of the 5 cars in its class. ABS, optional on GM versions of the car, is not offered by Suzuki. ESC is not available.

 


Ford Fiesta

 

150

NEW
FORD

2011
Fiesta (FWD)

Body Styles: 4HB, 4SD

Engine: 1.6L-4 119 HP
Transmissions: 5M, 6A
City Fuel Economy: 6.8L/100 km (estimated)

 

ESC: Standard

Emissions rating: n/a

 

What’s new

The 2011 Fiesta goes on sale in Canada in the summer of 2010.

 

Comments

The Fiesta will sell alongside the ancient Focus until that car is reborn and moved upmarket in the next year or so. Genetically linked to the Mazda 2, the Ford has its own outer body shell, interior and different mechanical units. With massive headlamps extending well into the body work, huge fender flares and a radically rising beltline, the Fiesta's styling is quite arresting. For our market, a sedan joins the lineup. With a prominent dash centre stack, and edgy shapes, the Fiesta’s cabin styling is quite dramatic. The Fiesta has big, clear gauges and straightforward controls. Good cargo bay on the hatch and a huge trunk on the sedan. Power stems from a 1.6L four with 119 horsepower. Transmission choices are a five-speed manual or a six-speed dual clutch automated manual. Cabin space is good for the size, but less than found inside a Honda Fit, Nissan Versa or a Toyota Yaris.

 

Reliability

New model, reliability is unknown. Three year/60,000 km bumper to bumper warranty, 5 years/100,000 km on the powertrain.

 

Pricing

The S sedan (with no air conditioning option) is marketed solely to advertise a low introductory price. Trim upgrades (SE to SEL or SES) are priced to cover content. The sedan is $700 cheaper than the hatch.  

 

Safety

Standard seat mounted side and side-curtain airbags. Not crash tested. Standard ABS and ESC on all models.


Honda Fit

 

 

 

 

 

 

ABOVE AVERAGE
HONDA Fit (FWD)

Body Styles: 4HB
Engines: 1.5L-4 117 HP 
Transmission: 5M*, 5A
City Fuel Economy: 7.1L/100km
 ESC Available: No

Emissions rating: Tier 2 Bin 5

 

 

What’s New
Late introduction of 2010 model.

 

Comments
Low gearing delivers snappy performance at all speeds, but also high revs (3000 rpm/100 km/h) when cruising. The responsive automatic uses every bit of the Fit's available power and cruises at lower revs, but makes the engine sound harsh when pushed. Light, but precise steering and predictable handling. More absorbent ride on the LX than on the Sport. Comfortable driving position and supportive seats. Big gauges and logical controls are contained within a bulbous dashboard. Both fit and finish are just average. Great outward vision. Amazing space utilization, cargo capacity and versatility. Good fuel economy, and one of only a handful of cars to receive a $100 rebate from the province of Ontario for low fuel consumption.

 

 

Reliability
Very reliable. The last high-volume Honda sold in Canada still built in Japan. The air conditioning condenser is vulnerable to road debris damage. Three year 60,000 bumper to bumper warranty, 5 years/100,000 km on the powertrain.

 

 

Pricing
LX and Sport upgrades are priced to cover the value of their contents.

Unless you can pay cash for your Fit, you may want to buy something else. Finance and lease payments are uncompetitive. A Fit LX is priced about $400 less than a Yaris LE four-door hatchback with the Convenience package, but costs roughly $30 more per month to lease (48 months, $0 down) or finance (60 months, $0 down). A Fit LX generates higher monthly payments than a Civic DX-G, which has a $1700 higher MSRP. 

Safety

Seat-mounted side airbags and side-curtain airbags are standard on all models. Tested by the IIHS, the Fit was rated Good for frontal, side and rear impacts. Rated Acceptable for Rollover. Ranked 1st of the 5 cars tested in its class. Standard ABS. ESC is not offered.   


  Hyundai Accent

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ABOVE AVERAGE
HYUNDAI Accent (FWD)
Body Styles: 2HB, 4SD*
Engines: 1.6L-4 110 HP

Transmission: 5M, 4A*

City Fuel Economy: 7.6L/100 km

ESC Available: No

Emissions Rating: n/a

 

What’s new
According to Hyundai, a new alternator and low friction oil have improved fuel economy. Cabin displays are now blue. Greater cruise control availability. A sunroof is added as standard equipment on the GLS sedan.


Performance
The Accent’s engine is smooth, with a pleasant rasp when extended. The clutch and gearchange of the manual transmission lack precision but are foolproof in operation. The engine spins quickly at cruising speeds but doesn’t spoil refinement. The automatic transmission works well, with the engine cruising at lower revs than it does when linked to the manual. Long-travel suspension and overly soft settings allow too much wallow over large bumps and a floating feel on the highway. Fantastic air conditioning and good sounding audio system for a car at this price. Very good driving position, comfortable seats, and good legroom front and rear for a car this small. The car is rated as a five-seater, but the three people in the back had better be rake thin. The cabin is tastefully conservative in style, and carefully constructed from attractive components. Big, clear instrumentation, and simple, logical controls. Big trunk. Good exterior paint finish and panel fit.

 

Reliability
Recent Accents have had above average reliability for the first five years of ownership, deteriorating thereafter. Five year/100,000 km bumper to bumper warranty.

 

Comments
The Accent enters its fifth year on the market with only minor changes. Power comes from a 1.6L four with 110 horsepower. Power is sent to the front wheels via either a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic. Made in South Korea.

 

Pricing
Except for the GL hatchback, upgrading to the next trim level is very good value. Expensive to lease. Payments for an Accent GLS sedan are $35 more (48 month lease, $0. down) and $35 less (60 month finance, $0 down) than they are for a loaded (but lacking the alloy wheels and a sunroof that are standard on the Accent GLS) Toyota Yaris sedan with automatic transmission.

 

Safety
Seat-mounted side airbags and side-curtain airbags are standard on the GLS sedan only. Not offered on other models. Tested by the IIHS with side airbags, the Accent was rated Acceptable in the frontal impact test and Poor in the side and rear impact tests. Rated Acceptable for Rollover. Ranked last of the 5 cars tested in its class. ABS is standard on the GLS sedan only, not offered on any other version. ESC is not available. 


   Kia Rio

 

 

 

 

150

 

 

 

 

ABOVE AVERAGE

KIA Rio, Rio 5 (FWD)
Body Style: 4SD*, 4HB
Engine: 1.6L-4 110 HP

Transmission: 5M, 4A*
City Fuel Economy: 7.5L/100 km
ESC Available: No
Emissions Rating: n/a

 

What’s new
New grille, headlights, front and rear fascias and body side mouldings. Redesigned steering wheel, display lighting and headrests. An extra power point has been added inside. Cruise control is now available.

 

Comments
The Hyundai Accent-based Kia Rio enters its fifth year on the market. Both Kia and Hyundai offer a sedan, but the four-door hatchback is a Kia exclusive. No exterior body panels are shared with the Accent, and with stronger, cleaner, lines, the Kia is arguably the better looking of the two. The interiors of the two cars differ only in details like upholstery and colour selection. The cabin is roomy for this class, with comfortable seats and a good driving position. Spacious trunk on the sedan and a versatile cargo area on the hatchback. Panel fit and paint are both well done. Made in South Korea.

 

Reliability
Based on the Hyundai Accent, whose reliability is above average for the first five years, deteriorating thereafter. Five year/100,000 bumper to bumper warranty.     

 

Pricing
Kia charges $400 to $600 more for the hatchbacks than the sedans. The EX Convenience and EX Sport packages represent very good value. Payments for the Hyundai Accent GL are $20 less (48 months, $0 down) when you lease but are $20 more (60 months, $0 down) if you finance, than they are for the Kia Rio EX Convenience. Leasing (48 months) or financing (60 months) a Rio generate the same monthly payments. Take a look at the Japanese competition; a Toyota Yaris four-door hatchback with the Convenience package leases (48 months) for less than a Rio5 EX Convenience, but costs much more per month (60 months) to finance. Rapid depreciation; make sure you have a waiver of depreciation endorsement on your auto insurance policy. 

 

Safety
Seat-mounted side airbags and side-curtain airbags are standard only on the Rio5 EX Sport, and are not offered on other trim levels. Tested by the IIHS with side airbags, the Rio was rated Acceptable in the frontal impact test and Poor in the side and rear impact tests. Rated Acceptable for Rollover. Ranked last of the 5 cars in its class. ABS is standard on the Rio 5 EX Sport, but is not available on other models. ESC is not available.

 

 
Mazda 2

 

 150

 

NEW

MAZDA
2011  2
(FWD)

Body Style: 4HB

Engine: 1.5L-4 105 HP (estimated)

Transmissions: 5M, 4A

City Fuel Economy: n/a

ESC Available: n/a

Emissions rating n/a
:

 

What’s new
The mid-cycle remake of Mazda's B-segment car comes to Canada in the summer of 2010 as an early 2011.

 

Comments
The mid-cycle remake of the Mazda 2 goes on sale here in the summer of 2010. The 2's platform also underpins the new Ford Fiesta. Key dimensions (wheelbase, width and height) are similar, but the Mazda is 472 mm (18.6 inches) shorter due to tighter overhangs. Despite Mazda's signature cycle fenders, gaping maw air intake and some very dramatic body creases, the 2's overall look is simpler and more organic than the Fiesta’s. Mazda 2 denizens occupy a zen-tastically simple cabin fronted by a dashboard stocked with clear gauges and straightforward controls. Comfortable seats. Cabin materials, while a bit shiny, are class competitive. Cabin space matches the Fiesta's, but trunk volume is a bit less. Power stems from a 1.5L four that produces roughly 105 horsepower. Power reaches the front wheels via either a five-speed manual transmission or a four-speed automatic, not the fancy six-speed used by Ford. While less powerful than the Fiesta, the 2 weighs about 100 kg (220 lbs.) less.

 

Reliability
New vehicle, not rated. Three year/80,000 km bumper to bumper warranty, 5 years/100,000 km on the powertrain.

 

Pricing
Japanese assembly and tight profit margins will mean few deals on the 2.

 

Safety
Standard seat-mounted side and side-curtain airbags. Not crash tested. ABS and ESC status unknown.


 

  MINI

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ABOVE AVERAGE

 

MINI Classic, Cooper, Cooper S, John Cooper Works (FWD)

 

Body Style: 2HB*, 3SW, 2CB

 

Engines: 1.6L-4 118 HP, 1.6L-4T 172 HP, 1.6L-4T 208 HP (JCW)

 

Transmissions: 6M*, 6A

 

City Fuel Economy: 7.1L/100 km

 

ESC: Standard

Emissions rating: Tier 2 Bin 5

 

What’s new
50th Anniversary of the original Mini. MINI Mayfair, Camden (hatchback only), and (time-limited) Winter special editions.

 

Comments
The longer Clubman has a truck-style flipper door on the passenger side to aid ingress to a rear seat which has more legroom than the regular model. Improved cargo capacity is accessed via side-hinged van-style doors. The 1.6L fours, normally-aspirated on the Cooper, turbocharged on the Cooper S, can be linked to a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed automatic on all models. The Cooper engine is flexible, pulls well, cruises quietly and is fuel efficient. The chassis serves up a firm yet compliant ride, direct steering and agile handling unhindered by twitchiness. The regular model has good space upfront, but rear legroom is tight and cargo capacity is limited. Good fit and finish, stylized ergonomics, naff key, frustrating audio controls and weak air conditioning. Hard to refuel. Made in England.

 

Reliability
Average reliability thus far. The current MINI appears to have avoided the post-launch problems that plagued its predecessor. Premium car parts prices and service costs. MINI is not a signatory of the Canadian Motor Vehicle Arbitration Plan (CAMVAP). Four year/80,000 km warranty. 

 

Pricing
Hatchback
: the Cooper costs about $2100 more than the Classic for about $1400 worth of extra content. However, better discounts on the Cooper than on the Classic will narrow the real world acquisition cost between the two cars. Clubman: longer than the Cooper, with greater rear legroom and cargo space, bears a $1600 ($1800 for the John Cooper Works version) higher MSRP than the hatchback. Cabrio: the Cabrio costs from $5050 to $6450 more than a similarly-equipped Cooper hatchback. The Camden option package is good value, the Earl Grey variant is priced to the value of its optional content and the Mayfair trim package is overpriced. The John Cooper Works package is incredibly expensive considering its engine produces only 26 more horsepower than the turbo in the Cooper S.

 

Safety
Seat-mounted side and head-protecting side airbags are standard. Rated Good in the IIHS frontal impact test, Acceptable in the IIHS side impact test and Good in the rear impact test. Rated Acceptable for Rollover. Ranked 3rd of the 5 vehicles in its class. ABS and ESC are standard. 

 

   Nissan Versa

 

 

 

 

 

ABOVE AVERAGE
NISSAN Versa
(FWD)

Body Styles: 4HB*, 4SD

Engine: 1.6L-4 107 HP (sedan), 1.8L-4* 122 HP (hatch)

Transmissions: 5M, 4A (sedan), 6M, CVT*, 4A (hatch)

City Fuel Economy: 7.5L/100 km

ESC Available: Yes

Emissions rating: ULEV

 

What’s new
Hatchback: mild facelift and cabin revisions. ESC is now standard on the SL hatchback and is optional on the S hatchback. The CVT warranty has been extended to 10 years/200,000 km.

 

Performance
The continuously variable transmission (CVT) works well with the 1.8L four, delivering refined motoring around town and on the highway. However, like any CVT hooked to a smaller engine, the high sustained revs the transmission allows during maximum acceleration sounds odd. The six-speed manual transmission (1.8L) is more a “Brochure” feature than a benefit because of poorly chosen gear ratios. The Versa has a fluid ride-handling balance that combines an absorbent ride with confident handling. The steering is light, but precise. Good brakes with solid feel at the pedal. The Versa uses more fuel than cars it is priced against (Yaris, Accent) because its size, weight, power and performance are equal to cars one class higher (Sentra, Cobalt, Focus). Width aside, the Versa is an exceptionally roomy car, and with long, tall doors, an easy car to get in and out of. Large, clear instrumentation and big, logical controls. Cabin materials and assembly quality are first rate. Hatchback trunk space is good with the rear seat in place and ample with the rear seatbacks folded. It could be even better if the folded rear seat could be flip-folded forward, but it can’t. At least Nissan made rear seat comfort more of a priority than cargo versatility. Huge trunk on the sedan.  

 

Reliability
Average reliability despite a few problems along the way. Three year/60,000 km bumper to bumper warranty, 5 years/100,000 km on the powertrain, and 10 years/200,000 km on the CVT.

 

Comments
Compared to the Honda Fit, the Versa hatchback is roughly the same width and height, but is built on a 100 mm (4 inch) longer wheelbase, is 190 mm (7.5 inches) longer overall and about 100 kg (220 lbs.) heavier. The Versa is a big car for its class and an exceptionally roomy one. The sedan is built on the same wheelbase, but is 175 mm (6.9 inches) longer than the hatchback. Made in Mexico.

 

Pricing
For around $17,500, the Versa S hatch with automatic, the Value Option package and VDS (ESC and ABS), is a lot of car for the money. A loaded S hatchback is priced $900 less than a Yaris 5 door Enhanced Convenience. Upgrading to the SL trim level represents very good value. At $16,000 with the Value Option package, automatic transmission and VDC, the 1.6L sedan is one of the best values in the new car market. Its MSRP is roughly $2400 less than a Yaris automatic sedan with the Enhanced Convenience package. However, if you are leasing, payments ($0. down, 48 month lease) for the Toyota will be about $20 less per month. Finance purchasers will save roughly $40 per month (60 months, $0. down) by picking the Versa. Monthly lease payments for a loaded Versa S hatchback are about the same as for a loaded Yaris four-door hatchback (48 months, $0. down) but finance payments (60 months, $0. down) for the Versa are roughly $25 less. Despite a $2200 higher price tag, a fully equipped Sentra 2.0 sedan (bigger but not as roomy as the Versa) costs about $10 less per month to lease (48 months, $0. down), and only $10 more to finance (60 months $0. down).

 

Safety
Seat-mounted side airbags and side-curtain airbags are standard. Tested by the IIHS, the Versa was rated Good in the frontal, side and rear tests. Rollover performance not rated. Ranked 10th of the 26 cars in its class. Optional ABS and stability control on the S hatchback, standard on the SL. ABS is optional on the Versa sedan. ESC is not offered on the Sedan.

 

 Smart Fortwo

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

BELOW AVERAGE

 

SMART ForTwo (RWD)

 

Body Style: 2HB, 2CV

 

Engine: 1L-3 70 HP

 

Transmission: 5A

 

City Fuel Economy: 5.9L/100 km

 

ESC: Standard

Emissions rating: Tier 2 Bin 5

 

What’s new
High Style special edition. Bluetooth is now optional. Free scheduled maintenance for three year/54,000 km.

 

Performance
The three-cylinder 1000cc engine revs smoothly and performs well in typical driving. The transmission, a weak point in the previous Smart, is the Achilles heel of this car as well. The main problem in the jerky and interminably long one-two shift (whether in full automatic or manumatic modes), which makes stop and go city driving, where this car should excel, very unpleasant. The transmission operates well and is responsive once it is past the one-two shift. The Smart reaches highway speeds easily and is surprising refined when cruising quickly. While drivers will notice a strong crosswind, the Smart is quite stable at highway speeds. The action of the floor-hinged brake pedal takes getting used to, and even then, braking is unprogressive and unpleasant. Very manoeuvrable. The steering, power assisted on all but the Pure, is nicely geared but very light and lacking in feel. Handling is quite tidy. The current Smart pitches and dives less than its predecessor, but the ride is far from smooth, especially on rougher urban tarmac. The Brabus version of the Smart, with the same powertrain as the mainstream ForTwo, is no quicker, but is noisier, and due to stiffer suspension settings, is even more of a rough rider on bumps. The traction control can’t be disconnected so you can’t rock yourself out of a parking spot in the winter. The Smart’s tall stance and big doors allow for easy ingress and egress. Once inside, occupants enjoy impressive head and legroom. The cabin is narrow but easily accommodates two large adults. The seats seem flat and firm at first, but prove comfortable enough for a few hours. The main gauges, housed in a 50s style instrument binnacle, are easily scanned, as are the (optional) free-standing dials mounted right on the dash itself. The audio and temperature controls are easy to use but are a stretch for the driver to reach. The air conditioner works efficiently, but the audio system in the upscale Passion model is disappointing. Tiny sunvisors do little to protect occupants from direct sunlight streaming in through the side windows. Reasonable trunk space for so small a car. 

 

Comments
While sales of the Smart suffered a big drop in 2009 compared with 2008, they didn’t enter a freefall like they did in the U.S. The Smart is powered by a three cylinder 1000 cc gasoline engine that produces 70 horsepower (on premium fuel). Power reaches the rear wheels via a five-speed automated manual transmission with a fully-automatic setting. A conventional PRNDL gear selector has a manumatic mode, with paddle shifters added on all but the Pure trim level. Built in France.

 

Reliability
Not rated, insufficient data. The new Smart looks mechanically simpler than before but is an unproven design. The new Smart is also sold in the U.S., which makes having a mechanical breakdown there less problematic than it would have been with the previous model. Mercedes parts prices and service costs are offset by free scheduled service for three years/54,000 km. Four year/80,000 bumper to bumper warranty.  

 

Pricing
The Pure model is priced at $15,840 with air conditioning. Upgrading to the Passion trim level represents good value. The Brabus package is priced to cover the value of its additional content. That said, value and the Smart cannot really be reconciled. You have to love the design or the sheer novelty of the car to consider it, as it is a non-starter on a size-price-features-value basis. The convertible body style (Passion  and Brabus) sells for $3000 more than an equivalent hatchback.  

 

Safety
Standard side airbags. Tested by the IIHS, the ForTwo was rated Good in the frontal and side impact tests, Marginal in the rear impact test. Rated Good for Rollover. The ForTwo is the only car in its class. Standard ABS and ESC.

 


  Toyota Yaris

  
 

 

 

ABOVE AVERAGE
TOYOTA Yaris (FWD)

Engine: 1.5L-4 106 HP

Body Styles: 2HB, 4HB, 4SD

Engines: 1.5L-4 DOHC 106 HP

Transmissions: 5M, 4A*

City Fuel Economy: 7L/100 km

ESC Available: Yes

Emissions rating: Tier 2 Bin 5

 

What’s new
ESC is standard on the RS hatchback and optional on the sedan. Seat-mounted and side-curtain airbags are standard on all Yaris models starting with December 2009 production. The RS two-door did not return for 2010.

 

Performance
The 1.5L engine is economical and willing, but can sound coarse at town speeds. The automatic transmission works well. The manual transmission has a pleasant gearchange but the clutch, with a friction point too close to the floor, is unpleasant. Hatchback: the supple suspension reconciles ride and handling very well. Though it exhibits some body roll, the Yaris is an agile companion on twisty roads. Nicely-weighted, precise, electrically-assisted steering. Sedan: with lighter steering and different suspension settings, the sedan is not quite as sharp on the road as the hatchback. The narrow front seats are comfortable; and the rear seat is supportive and surprisingly roomy. The lower roofline of the sedan reduces the view out for rear passengers. The trunk is tiny on the hatch; spacious on the sedan.

 

Reliability
Above average reliability due to Japanese component sourcing and the proven powertrain. The similar Echo had the best reliability and lowest operating costs of any vehicle on the market. Three year/60,000 km warranty, 5 years/100,000 km on the powertrain.

 

Comments
The interior features a central instrument binnacle displaying instruments of great clarity. The dashboard centre stack is quite slim to allow for generous space at knee level. The climate control knobs are vertically arrayed on the centre stack and look like the combination wheels on a bank vault. Interior materials are attractive, even on the base model, and very well assembled. The cargo area is neatly finished, but cargo space is both short and shallow with the rear seat arrayed to accept passengers. One of only a handful of gasoline-powered cars that qualify for a $100 rebate under the provisions of the Ontario Tax for Fuel Conservation. Made in Japan.

 

Pricing
Except for the three-door LE Convenience group, all trim upgrades are good value. The top sedan is priced about $850 less than loaded LE Convenience four-door hatchback. Exceptional resale value. Aggressive incentives from Toyota make monthly payments (lease or finance) for the Yaris very competitive when compared with those of less worthy rivals. Monthly payments for a fully-equipped Yaris LE four-door hatchback are roughly $30 less per month than they are for a Honda Fit LX whether you lease (48 months, $0. down) or finance (60 months, $0. down).   

 

Safety
Seat-mounted side and side-curtain airbags are standard on all Yaris models beginning with December 2009 production. The Yaris was rated Good in the frontal and side impacts, Marginal in rear impacts. Rated Acceptable for Rollover. Ranked 2nd of the 5 cars in its class. ABS is standard on the RS model, optional on all others. ESC is standard on the RS hatchback and optional on the Yaris sedan.