Huge "Subcompacts"



I’ll be looking for a replacement for my Suzuki Swift hatchback soon and can find nothing SMALL enough out there (other than the Smart, which hasn’t yet passed crash tests here). Seems to me all the new so-called “subcompacts” are nearly as big as small SUVs; I could easily fit my car INSIDE the Toyota Yaris which, to my knowledge, is the smallest thing out there. Anyone know if they’ve changed the standards or definitions? Also, any feedback on any of the new small models?


Just wondering where you are located that the smart hasn’t been certified yet?


America. They’re selling them (or taking orders for them, at any rate) but - to my knowledge - they haven’t pass US car crash tests yet; am I wrong? I do a lot of interstate driving up against tractor-trailers and, although I’m by no means safe in my current car, I fear the Smart would actually get blown around… Am also disappointed that the “made for the USA” version now gets only 40 mpg; not the 60 they get in Europe. Otherwise, I’m sold; love it! Can’t complain it’s not small enough (or cute enough).


I assume they passed some type of crash certification if they are for sale here (which they are). I’ve seen a few around, but not many. The car dealer about a mile from my house is currently selling them. Probably not the best choice for highway driving, regardless of their current certification status anyway.

If you do a lot of highway driving, take a good test drive in any sub-compact that you are considering to make sure you can live with it’s highway behavior.


Try the Toyota Yaris 2 door hatchback, the Honda Fit, the Hyundai 2 door hatchback, the Nissan Versa. All are compact, spacious and very easy on gas. If you want a really good, small car, u used Toyota Echo hatchback is about as small as they get. And it’s better than a new Suzuki Swift.

Today’s “larger” compacts get about the same mileage as the mini cars of yesterday, provided you don’t load them up with automatic, A/C and other gear. The Smart Car is really small, but not its price. It’s a good city car, but rather choppy in the highway.


FYI, there is no “new” Suzuki Swift, or I’d be buying one of those; they quit making them in 2001, when everyone wanted a truly huge SUV… Was hoping they’d bring them back (mine has been completely trouble-free, a blast to drive, easy to park and maneuver, and has given me 40 mpg consistently), but I’m sure they’d be unrecognizable if they did: not unlike the “new” VW bug; loved the original, the remake: not…

I’m leaning toward the Yaris although, again, it’s practically as big as the Matrix. Anything smaller?


Okay, according to, there are no NHTSA or IIHS Crash-Test Ratings for the 2008 Smart Twofor. As for the others, I see that the term “compact” is used rather than “subcompact”; in fact, there is no “subcompact” category on and I assume that any smaller cars are known at “sport” rather than “passenger” vehicles. That clears that up! So next question is how good a car is the Toyota Yaris. I prefer its looks to the Fit, Versa, or others in that class, as four doors are really too many.


I agree. All the cars have grown over the model years. Camry used to be a compact.

Try teh Scion xA. They’re growing too, but they’re still small.


Maybe a Mini Cooper? The definitions of compact, subcompact, etc. are from either DOT or EPA and based on interior volume. I don’t know of anything other than the Smart smaller than the Mini. I personally would be looking at the Honda Fit if I wanted high fuel mileage, probably better than your Swift, or maybe wait for the VW diesels later in the year.


I know there is no new Suzuki Swift in the US; I was only making a quality and durability comparison. Suzuki does have a hatchback called the SX4, it’s small enough to be frugal, and has 4 doors. It is a clone of the Chevrolet Aveo, a small hatchback built by their Daewoo division in Korea.


Interesting that the whole “subcompact” category was dropped – while I wasn’t looking!!! Mini has a terrible service record; the new Suzuki costs $$$; Scion xA looks too much like an SUV for my taste… Will test drive both the Yaris and xA; both the Fit and Versa are bigger than what I’d like. Thanks.


Docnick, I believe the Suzuki SX4 is designed, and built in Japan. I actually think its a cool all wheel drive car for $15K, and may even consider one in my next car purchase. I think you may have meant the Reno or Forenzo.


Agree that it’s built in Japan now. This car used to be built for the US and Canadian market, like the Swift, in Ingersoll, Canada where GM had a joint venture with Suzuki to produce small cars such as the Metro (a Suzuki), the Samurai, and other Suzuki models.

The clone connection is only from a design point of view; Daewoo shares some deigns with Suzuki. The SX is still sold as the Swift in Canada. When GM acquired daewoo, they severed the conncetion with both Suzuki and Isuzu, although they still own shares in Isuzu.


If you are having problems finding a vehicle small enough, why not keep what you have? Is there any major problem with your current ride that you want to replace it?


The SX4 is the replacement for the Aerio which I believe was always built in house by Suzuki.


You could be right there; the Canadian plant ony built the econoboxes and the small SUVs that had a habit of tipping over.


I own a basic Yaris Hatchback. Manual transmission, regular wheels, no power windows, the only luxury items are AC and AM/FM plus CD player.

My worst gas mileage was on a highway trip fighting a headwind and going 65-70 mph, AC off. About 36 mpg, just like the sticker claimed. My old Geo Metro didn’t do much better at that speed.
Commuting to work, about 36 miles one way, I have never gotten less than 40 mpg and my record is 45.29 mpg. It’s amazing how good your gas mileage gets once you realize that your right foot doesn’t have to be either on the gas or the brake all the time.


“Anyone know if they’ve changed the standards or definitions?”

Sure. It’s because most people in the US don’t share your enthusiasm for extremely small cars. If the Fortwo sells well, others might consider selling their microcars in the US.


Since I can remember, auto companies have slowly increased the size of the smaller cars to offer something for those that bought the earlier, smaller version to “trade up” to. They then bring in a newer car with a new name and start the series over again. This is currently happening with the Civic and Sentra.

Feedback on a new model: The Fit gives you the sensation of a sports car without the cost and without the glitz. It is fun to drive and surprisingly roomy inside. As usual, the Toyota model is a smooth highway vehicle that gives you a lot of comfort. I have owned Camry’s for years. I had a back injury and now can only reasonably tolerate a Honda. They are entirely different animals. Try out the seat and see what fits.


The hatchback Yaris is a lot smaller than the four door one. The honda fit is its closest competitor at 32 MPG overall; one less than the four door Yaris. You might get 42 MPG on the highway with that basic Yaris.