Mitsubishi updates its Colt small car, incorporating the fighter jet-style grille from its Lancer. The car can be had as a five door hatchback, shown here, or as a smaller three door hatchback. There are three engine sizes, with the smallest a 1.1-liter 3 cylinder making 74 horsepower and 74 pound-feet of torque, with a maximum speed of 105 mph. The top engine is a 1.5-liter four cylinder that puts out 108 horsepower, with a top speed of 118 mph.
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Suzuki has had an Alto model in its line-up since 1979, but that run ended in 2006. For 2009, Suzuki revives the name in another economical minicar. The Alto gets a 1-liter engine producing 67 horsepower and 66 pound-feet of torque. According to Mitsubishi, it gets 52 mpg for fuel economy.
A little bigger than the rest of the cars in this feature, Hyundai introduced the i20, a five door hatchback. Multiple engines are specified for the i20, starting with a 1.2-liter four cylinder producing 77 horsepower and 87 pound-feet of torque. With this engine, the i20 should get 45 mpg. The i20 sits above the i10 in Hyundai's line-up.
At less than 9 feet in length, Toyota's new city car is the shortest four-seater in the world. Toyota used a number of design innovations to keep the car small, such as making the fuel tank flat and putting it under the car. Engines include a 1-liter three cylinder, making 68 horsepower or a 1.4-liter four cylinder turbo-diesel, that does 90 horsepower and 140 pound-feet of torque. Fuel economy is 56 mpg with the gas engine and 57 mpg with the diesel.
The Toyota iQ, and many other minicars, make you choose between passengers or cargo space. With the iQ's split-folding seats, you can carry four passengers, or two passengers and maximum cargo, or three passengers and half maximum cargo.
Nissan's small car is a five door hatchback, offering a little more room than some of the cars here. It is powered by a 1-liter three cylinder engine delivering 64 horsepower and coming in at 61.4 mpg. One note, the Pixo is actually built by Suzuki for Nissan.
A navigation system isn't available on the Nissan Pixo, nor on most of the cars in this feature. In fact, don't expect much cabin tech at all in these cars--you're most likely going to have to settle for a four speaker sound system and single CD player. This lack of cabin tech doesn't so much to do with cost, and more to do with lack of space in the cars.
The Ford Ka has been around for 12 years, and Ford updates it for 2009 using its new kinetic styling language. The Ka is a three door hatchback with rear vent windows. Engine choices include a 1.2-liter mill making 68 horsepower and a 1.3-liter diesel putting out 74 horsepower.
The steering wheel of the Ka has a button for voice command, and buttons for a Bluetooth cell phone system. It would make sense for Ford to use the Sync system in the Ka, as it combines iPod and cell phone integration with an excellent voice command system. In other models by Ford, Sync is an inexpensive option, and would fit in the Ka's price range.
Ford also had on display a Ka painted like one used in the upcoming James Bond film, Quantum of Solace. In the movie, the car is driven by new Bond girl Olga Kurylenko, who plays Camille. It looks like the car in the movie is supposed to be a fuel cell vehicle, as the Ka has the word Hydrogen painted on it.