Stocking stuffer cars

These compact cars are the best on the market, and they will fit in a really big stocking.

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Photo by: Wayne Cunningham/CNET

Audi A3

The Audi A3 is about as perfect a car as we've seen in a while. This compact sedan doesn't skimp on the technology, offering a 4G data connection for Google-based navigation and destination search. Its 2-liter engine is both economical and powerful, making it fun and practical to drive.

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MSRP: $38,600

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Mini Cooper Hardtop

For this major update, Mini improved the standard Cooper hardtop in just about every way. An innovative three-cylinder engine brings power up substantially, while cabin tech is the latest from parent company BMW. The handling loses some of its previous appeal, but remains pliable and fun.

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MSRP: $23,605

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Chrysler 200C

Chrysler's new 200C gets a platform from Alfa Romeo, meaning excellent suspension characteristics, and revised, fluidlike styling. We found impressive appointments and tech in the cabin, including Chrysler's connected infotainment system and automatic parking.

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MSRP: $21,995

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Ford Fiesta ST

For those who can appreciate a lot of power in a little package, the Fiesta ST is about as good as you can get. The Fiesta ST features a practical hatchback design and is just waiting to be raced along backroads. Its superb handling allows a lot of forgiveness, and it isn't so powerful as to overwhelm the novice sport driver.

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MSRP: $21,400

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Mazda3

The Mazda3 features pleasing styling, a practical hatchback design, and a new generation of cabin tech. What we most like about this compact hatch is its engaging driving, as suspension and steering feel very taut and responsive. This type of engagement may not be for everyone, but it rewards the dedicated driver.

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MSRP: $18,945

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