Monday, June 1, 2009

Best Small Cars for 2009 and 2010

[Halifax  - Stoneman Op-ed]

If you're in the market for a new small car, now is the best time to buy since two major automakers recently went bankrupt and filed chapter 11. Alas, the cars I'll mention below are not from either GM nor Chrysler. But don't worry, they're great cars anyway.

1. Honda Fit - A super car at a bargain price. Just under the higher-priced Civic line, this car actually has more storage space than the Civic. Fuel economy is excellent and not only is the car FUN to drive with it's little zippy engine, it's a pretty decent handling car. Sure,you won't be doing sideways drifting through hairpin turns at the track, but it is still a fun car to drive. The resale value is fantastic too. Reliability is above average.

2. Subaru Impreza WRX. Forget about the weaker 220 bhp Impreza turbo (2008) and go for the 2009. Subaru decided to beef up the 2.5i engine to 265, making AWD burn-outs a distinct possibility now.The exterior design of the car is not the very best, and inside the Japanese decided to make a very plain vanilla interior. Nobody will look twice when you're driving down the road in this car. But god help the shocked Mustang driver, as this clear can do sub-5's with AWD. Too bad it doesn't have launch control.

3. For a yawn factor, you can't do better than a Toyota Corolla or Yaris. If you're a metrosexual, the Yaris might fit right into your booty line. But if you have any testosterone left in your blood, you'll want to invest in the Corolla S. It's not a particularly fast or beautiful car. Its based off the boring Camry, so don't expect much in terms of design excitement. 

4. Mitsubishi Laner Turbo. The 224 bhp turbo is great along with the 6-speed dual-clutch transmission. You can't beat the value for price. Unfortunately, it's still a Lancer from within the car. Meaning, if you splurge on a turbo charged lancer, you get a lancer with new seats, gauges, and a crappy Lancer interior.

5. Honda Insight. Hot off the press. This Hybrid will come in at less than 24 K and is definately worth a serious look. Trade in the Mustang GT Saleen for this? No. But maybe buy this as a second car. Your wife and daughters would love it.

6. Nissan Versa is ugly but versatile. The car has a CVT (which I hate) but it does have Japanese quality and consistency. The hatchback is a great deal if you're on a budget for a small car. Test drive one and let us know how good it is. The last one I drove was a 2007 model, it was nice, but raspy and had a nasty engine sound under hard accelleration.

7. Nissan Cube and KIA Soul. These two beasts are the funkiest and ugliest things on the road. Its like someone took chisels and hammers to a Scion xB and said "Have at it". After smoking a massive amount of weed, they create the KIA Soul. Next they did 4 lines of Cocaine and two back to back shots of heroin. With that, they created a monster mini CUV with an unusual asymmetrical rear door. A friend of mine is actually interested in the cube. GOd help him.

8. Fiat 500 or Fiat Panda. Both great machines. They're not in North America yet but I hope that CHrysler/Fiat bring them over.

9. BMW Mini Cooper S. I don't really care for the 4-door cooper, but I've seen one 4-door Cooper S and I had to put my hand to my mouth to prevent vomiting. I later downed two beers in order to save my stomach. Look away when you see these, because although they are fun to drive, their exterior and interior are terrible.

10. Mazda 3 is a great car. Except for the douchy 2010 model with the smiling face grill, I think one could love the car. The MazdaSpeed version is just ludicrious. I would buy one in a heartbeat if I could. The MazdaSpeed version has about 276 bhp and goes quicker than a Subaru Impreza WRX STi. It even corners better because the Scooby has to deal with massive understeer due to the AWD.

And that's that!

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