Opel (aka Vauxhall) have silently released their hottest ever hatchback / supermini, named after the legendary racing circuit on which it was tested, the Nurburgring. The 1.6 litre, four-cylinder turbo’ed engine has been tweaked to produce 210bhp which is some serious muscle for a front-wheel drive car this size. Torque comes in at 230Nm which can be increased to 250-280Nm if the ‘over-boost’ function is put to use. Opel also installed a multi-plate mechanical limited-slip differential to help put down the power onto the road and reduce under-steer while applying throttle mid-corner.
Balstein chassis suspension, Brembo brakes, traction control, stability management system and a recalibrated ABS are some technologies on the feature list of the car. On the outside, ride-height is reduced by 20mm, the rubber is mounted on 18-inch alloys, a dual tipped stainless steel exhaust replaces the standard version, etc..
0 to 100km/h is achieved in just 6.5 seconds, and the Corsa Nurburgring edition is good for a top speed of ~230km/h (143mph). Only 500 of this car will be produced, so it will be hard to find, however boy-racers in their Honda Civic Type-Rs and similar should beware of this beast! The new edition is expected to go on sale in May, with prices starting at ~£22,295
From the Korean word Naimo (pronounced Ne-mo), the electric crossover hints at the possible replacement for Kia’s popular supermini Soul. It also showcases important new technology.
The Naimo concept measurs 3,890mm long, 1,844mm wide and 1,589mm tall. It offers a spacious interior with no B-pillars and rear-hinged rear doors that offer easy access to the cabin. The three-way split opening boot-lid allows for versatile access to the load bay for varying luggage sizes.
Power comes from a 105bhp electric motor, which also offers maximum torque of 280 Nm. The Naimo’s top speed is expected to be around 93 mph.
The simple box like design includes striking details, including a wrap-around windscreen and asymmetric sunroof. Drivers also get LED headlamps. Other clever touches include Kia’s minimalist approach to the engineering. For example, Naimo has no traditional wiper blade on the windscreen – instead it uses a unique high-intensity air jet that acts as an ‘air wiper’. Door mirrors have also been replaced with miniature cameras installed in the A-pillars.
“Naimo is a perfect balance of innovation, high-tech and Korean tradition. It was heavily inspired by the purity and grace of traditional Korean arts and crafts,” said Kia Motors’ Chief Design Officer, Peter Schreyer.
A twin-pack 27 kWh lithium ion polymer battery is located under the boot floor. As with all electric vehicles, range is a big issue and is estimated to be only 124 miles. Enough for a city car but not for anyone hoping to do the occasional longer-distance journey. However charge time from 0 to 80% is expected to be less than 25 minutes. Production may start in 2014 but some of the technology may be seen in Kia’s as early as 2012. We expect far more electric supermini‘s to be announced in 2011.
Car making has returned to Coventry with Indian giant Tata opening a new plant to manufacture the electric version of its Indica supermini. Tata, which bought Jaguar & Land Rover, has created 23 new jobs to enable construction of 1,500 Indica Vista EVXs.
The cars are expected to go on sale sometime in 2012, with a price tag between £25,000 and £30,000. The Government’s £5,000 plug-in car grant will help reduce the up-front cost of owning an electric vehicle, combined with lower running costs, zero road & congestion charges, etc..
Tata claims a range of up to 120 miles for the four-seater Vista and a sub 10-second 0-60mph time. This sort of range appears to be the maximum possible for current Lithium-Ion battery technologies & crash safety is still a concern.
Like MG at Longbridge, the Coventry facility is basically an assembly plant. Part-built cars will be delivered from India and the engine, transmission, batteries and parts of the interior added to the cars in Coventry.
Tata’s Head of Manufacturing at Coventry, Steve Ocock, says that this is the natural place to site the new assembly plant. “This is the home of the motor industry with a lot of skills and talent here”.
Tata already employs more than 200 staff at a Technology Centre established at Warwick University. There are high hopes that employment at the Coventry assembly plant will grow as demand for electric cars increases with improvements in range and higher fuel prices. We see a very bright future for electric superminis like the Indica Vista EVX, especially as new battery technologies become available.
Coventry was once regarded as the home of the UK car industry, manufacturers with factories in the city including Rover and Jaguar. The last car plant, Peugeot’s Ryton facility, closed in December 2006. While it is welcome that Tata have opened an assembly plant here, far more jobs are needed in the region.
Whatcar magazine rates the top five superminis available in the UK as follows:
- Audi A1
- Ford Fiesta
- Hyundai i10
- Volkswagen Polo
- Fiat 500
Obviously these cars are all targeted at very different customers. The Audi is a luxury vehicle, like the Mini range and starts at over £13,000. The most expensive Hyundai i10 would set you back under £10,000 … the same amount is the starting price for the Fiesta, Polo and Fiat 500.
Volkswagen are trying to appeal to the broadest market with their Polo. The cheapest version of the Polo is under £10,000 however the top of the range is £19,000 which is nearly as much as the current top of the range Audi A1, coming in at £21,000. Audi A1 will probably release some even more expensive ‘hot hatch’ versions later this year.
Citroen are also targeting the ‘luxury’ supermini market with their DS3 and sporty versions and its quirky looks are proving popular with the more fashion concious.
The Hyundai i10 is as good as it gets for the budget concious. Decent quality and easily the cheapest to run, insure and maintain. It is quite spacious for a city car, but sadly many will be put off by the i10′s looks!
Kia, the Korean car manufacturer claims to have produced the most fuel-efficient non-electric car available today. They call this new supermini the Kia and state that it will achieve 88mpg from its new three-cylinder diesel engine, along with emitting just 85g/km of CO2. Quite incredible figures!
These statistics will be very impressive indeed, as the Kia Rio will be slightly bigger than a Ford Fiesta yet performs better than the most efficient Smart car. Despite this, it will still have 81bhp which should be plenty for motorway driving.
This new Kia, based on the platform of the Hyundai i20 supermini, has a 70mm longer wheelbase than the previous Rio, as well as being 20mm longer and 25mm wider. The interior should therefore be reasonably spacious, with enough room for adults to sit in the back in something approaching comfort. Kia has worked hard on the interior and is targeting VW quality and feel.
The Rio will have other engine choices, including a 1.4-litre diesel and a pair of four-cylinder petrols; the new 1.25-litre from the Picanto and a 107bhp unit which will also available with a four-speed automatic gearbox. Prices for the 2011 Kia Rio should start at £10,000 and sales should start in September.
Another premium Italian brand is going after the supermini segment, using the same platform as the Fiat 500 and Ford Ka. The Lancia Ypsilon will now come in a 5-door hatchback format and a choice of 900cc TwinAir or 1.2-litre eight-valve petrol engines; or the 1.3-litre MultiJet II turbodiesel. The turbodiesel engine already features in our Most Fuel Efficient Superminis article so we can expect the Lancia to have similar economy and emissions.
The interior will be luxuriously-appointed for a more upscale feel. LED dashboard lighting, a large sunroof and noise-absorbing headliner feature, as do cutting-edge electronics like the “magic parking” system and a Blue&Me TomTom Live dashboard system.
The Ypsilon will have 17 exterior paint options (including four two-tone combinations), 3 interior trim levels (Silver, Gold and Platinum), 6 different upholstery options, 3 styles of alloys, as well as the four engine types already mentioned and a choice of manual or automatic gearbox. Plenty of choice for the consumer! Some versions will have low-resistance tyres developed by Goodyear and/or automatic engine stop/start which is becoming commonplace in the hunt for extra fuel efficiency.
Lancia claim that the car will accommodate 5 adults, something which is yet to be verified. However the Ypsilon does have on of the largest footprints in the supermini class.
The Lancia brand will be used across Europe, but the UK and Ireland will see the same car badged as Chrysler and released around September. There are no plans to launch in North America at this time.
Below is a list of the most fuel efficient (i.e. best miles per gallon or mpg) supermini cars on the market today. You will also see how inexpensive each supermini is to put on the road. Many cars now have such low CO2 emissions that they are exempt from any road tax at all.
We don’t believe it will be long before we see the first 100mpg supermini car in the UK.
|Manufacturer||Model||Description||MPG||Car Type||Tax Band||1st Year Tax||Annual Tax|
|Seat||Ibiza||1.2 TDI 75PS S Ecomotive, SE Ecomotive||80.7||Supermini||A||FREE||FREE|
|Skoda||Fabia||1.2 TDI 75PS Greenline II||80.7||Supermini||A||FREE||FREE|
|Volkswagen||Polo||1.2 TDI 75PS Bluemotion||80.7||Supermini||A||FREE||FREE|
|Vauxhall||Corsa||1.3 CDTi 95PS ecoFLEX S, Exclusiv, Start/Stop||78.5||Supermini||A||FREE||FREE|
|Vauxhall||Corsa||1.3 CDTi 95PS ecoFLEX S(AC), Exclusiv (AC) Start/Stop||78.5||Supermini||A||FREE||FREE|
|Ford||Fiesta||1.6 TDCi ECOnetic||76.3||Supermini||A||FREE||FREE|
|Citroen||C3||1.6 HDi 90PS Airdream+||74.3||Supermini||A||FREE||FREE|
|Citroen||DS3||1.6 HDi 90PS DStyle 99g||74.3||Supermini||A||FREE||FREE|
|Mini||One||1.6D Base, Pepper Pack, Media Pack, Sport Pack||74.3||Supermini||A||FREE||FREE|
|Peugeot||207||1.6 HDi FAP Economique, Economique+||74.3||Supermini||A||FREE||FREE|
|Fiat||500||1.3 MultiJet Pop, Sport, Lounge||72.4||Supermini||B||FREE||£20|
|Mini||Cooper||1.6D Base, Pepper Pack, Media Pack, Chilli Pack, Sport Pack||72.4||Supermini||B||FREE||£20|
|Seat||Ibiza||1.2 TDI 75PS S(AC)||72.4||Supermini||B||FREE||£20|
|Volkswagen||Polo||1..2 TDI 75 SE||72.4||Supermini||B||FREE||£20|
|Audi||A1||1.6 TDI SE, Sport, S Line||70.6||Supermini||B||FREE||£20|
|Citroen||C3||1.6 HDi 90PS Exclusive||70.6||Supermini||B||FREE||£20|
|Citroen||DS3||1.6 TD 90PS DStyle||70.6||Supermini||B||FREE||£20|
|Renault||Clio||1.5 dCI 88PS Various||70.6||Supermini||B||FREE||£20|
|Vauxhall||Corsa||1.3 CDTi 75PS ecoFLEX Start/Stop||70.6||Supermini||B||FREE||£20|
Audi originally unveiled the A1 supermini concept at the 2008 Paris Motor show. The A1 has been on sale since May 2010 in the UK and has received rave reviews from a variety of car magazines as well as customers.
Engine choice at launch will consist of an 85bhp 1.2 litre turbo petrol, 120bhp 1.4 litre turbo petrol and 103bhp 1.6 litre turbodiesel. The petrol engines give 55.4mpg according to testing figures, with 119g/km CO2 emissions. The diesel is capable of 72.4mpg and 102g/km CO2 … which they will no doubt reduce to below 99g/km to make it exempt from UK road tax. We recommend the 1.2 litre engine for city use, but the 1.4 and diesel engines for those who will be doing more cruising at higher speeds.
The Audi A1 is actually based on the same platform as the 2010 best supermini winner, the VW Polo. However this car is obviously targeted at the more upmarket customers and so competing with the likes of Mini which are in the same price bracket.
The A1 is the quietest premium supermini there is. The diesel engine rattle a little when pulling away, but the petrols are always smooth and quiet. In the cabin, you’re well insulated from wind and road noise. Audi’s engine stop-start system is standard across the range and it works quickly and unobtrusively.
Security and safety are the best in class, with a full five star NCAP rating and Audi’s usual excellent theft protection. Audi have fitted an electronic rear differential to enhance their stability control and keep you on the road should you enter a corner a little too fast.
One negative is cabin space. While no car in this class can seat four 6ft adults with comfort, the A1 is limited to children in the back seats due to the sloping roof. Surprisingly this makes the Mini for practical for occasionally having adult passengers, however the Audi A1 has far superior boot capacity than the Mini.
If you’re in the market for a premium supermini, you should definitely consider the Audi A1. Despite being the cheapest Audi, they have not compromised on their usual quality standards. ‘Hot’ versions of the A1 boasting 185bhp should be arriving shortly which will complete the line-up, really taking the fight to Mini on all fronts.
This month, Mini officially released its ‘performance’ diesel range which they’ve called ‘Cooper SD’. This Cooper SD specification has been rolled out for all Mini’s current range: the hatchback, convertible, Clubman estate and Countryman.
They receive a 2.0 litre turbo diesel engine which generates 141bhp and 225lb ft of torque. That’s 31bhp more than the standard Cooper D, but less bhp than the Cooper S or John Cooper Works. However, higher torque figures will make it very drivable. 0 to 60 comes up in 8.1seconds which is very respectable and Mini claims a 134mph top speed. For the hatchback version, you should see 65.7mpg and 114g/km of CO2 emissions – this equates to just £30/year in road tax. The Countryman, which is bigger and heavier is less efficient with figures of 57.6mpg and 130g/km. The Cooper SD superminis also get brake energy generation, start/stop, a shift point display and electric power steering.
A six-speed manual box is standard, with buyers able to specify a six-speed auto, which will also be offered on the Cooper D. The manual gearbox is ‘lightweight’ to help the economy figures.
Prices have yet to be revealed, but the Cooper SD supermini is expected to start at around £18,750 for the hatchback version. This is slightly more expensive than the Cooper S petrol car, however owners will make that back and more due to the fuel efficiency of the diesel. The most expensive Cooper SD is the four-wheel drive Countryman which comes in at just over £23,000.
We think that Mini’s most powerful diesel is a great addition to the range, offering a bit of sportiness yet with sensible economy and emissions stats. A great mixture of fun and practicality that is sure to be popular.
Euro NCAP organizes crash-tests and provides motoring consumers with a realistic and independent assessment of the safety performance of some of the most popular cars sold in Europe. It has created a convenient table which compares the different models of supermini to help the consumer make an educated decision.
The modern design of cars, even superminis, has improved dramatically with several of them being awarded a full five-star rating by Euro NCAP:
- Audi A1
- Citroen DS3
- Honda Jazz
- Hyundai i20
- Nissan Juke
- Suzuki Swift
- Toyota Prius
- VW Polo
Euro NCAP give independent ratings to each supermini for in-car adult safety, child safety, pedestrian safety and ‘safety assist’ which includes things like seatbelt reminders, speed limiters and traction or stability control.
It is a credit to the car industry that even today’s superminis are fitted with airbags, traction control, ABS, etc. to reduce the number of deaths and injuries on our roads. Customers are not paying more for this additional security, with most cars not following the price rises seen in other goods and services.