Hot Little Numbers

It has taken so long for American consumers to fully embrace small cars – today’s fastest growing segment of the market – because small was often equated with lightweight, tinny, underpowered and not quite adequately engineered for the demands of American drivers.

The current crop of new small cars largely repudiates all of those pre-conceived notions evidenced two recent test drives.

The Ford Focus — which was critically panned in 2008 for a mid-generation facelift — emerged completely new and improved in 2010 and continues to wow critics and consumers with 40 mpg ratings, a hot hatchback looks with the swaggering performance of a rally car. Based on European Ford know-how this 4 cylinder 160 horsepower hatchback with the “fun-to-drive” handling starts at $21,000 and arrives fully equipped for about $25,000.

The Volvo C30 — more than just a practical Euro hatchback — emerges with the T5 as a sporty little brat packing a 227 horsepower 5 cylinder turbo, a 6 speed manual transmission and the incredibly dynamic R-Design Sport Chassis. Delivered for test drive in a blistering bright Rebel Blue, sitting astride razor sharp 18 inch performance wheels — the Volvo C30 earns every bit of its $35,000 price!