Horsepower and hot-rod engines play less of a part at auto shows in Europe and Asia than in the States. The focus is increasingly on smaller compact cars that are cheap to build and run. Here are some of the smallest and cheapest.
Promoted as the cheapest car in the world, the Nano has garnered worldwide attention for its basic design and stripped down functionality. Driven by a rear-mounted, two-cylinder 623cc engine making 33 horsepower, the toaster-shaped four-seater is taller than it is wide. According to Tata, the Nano's sheet-metal body complies with current safety requirements in India, where it is due to go on sale in October.
Toyota used the Geneva show to unveil a production version of the iQ city car. The iQ, which measures less than three meters in length, makes uses of a number of design tricks to minimize size, including an underfloor fuel tank and an asymmetrical cabin layout in which the front passenger sits slightly further forward in the car than the driver.
Daihatsu is a specialist in making subcompact models, and its Cuore nameplate has been around since 1980. The most recent model comes with a 1-liter engine, standard ABS, a 4-speaker sound system, and little else. As a selling point, Daihatsu points out that its door can open a full 90 degrees.
Looking like a three-quarter-scale model of the Lexus SC430, the Copen features a unique retractable hard-top design which permits the roof to fold away inside the trunk. Its 1.3-liter engine gets it from 0 to 60 in a leisurely nine seconds, although its 47 mpg average gas mileage is impressive.