Cologne The streetscape of German inner cities has changed. Small and compact cars used to dominate traffic, but SUVs have taken over the reins in recent years. The entry-level models in particular are losing importance. Small cars and minis recorded a minus of 14.4 percent in 2022 compared to the previous year. Apparently it’s simply no longer worth building small cars and they’re expensive on top of that.
Electrification does not pay off for this segment. say the manufacturers. Consequence: More and more car manufacturers are withdrawing. Ford recently announced that it would discontinue the Fiesta at the end of 2023. A caesura. In 2015, the classic was still Europe’s best-selling small car.
These five small car models were the most successful in the shrinking small car segment in 2022:
The VW Polo, which has been built since 1975, shows the problem of many classic small cars. They have become too big, too expensive and don’t offer enough sustainable technology. It has long been a dying on installments. Of course, the Polo is still a top car. Mature, routinely tuned with finesse, elaborately finished and with plenty of space. It benefits from its public vote and the technology from the VW kit.
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But the people voted and let the former successful model crash to fifth place. 26,402 sales mean a minus of 18.2 percent compared to 2021. The mini golf has to be renewed. The proven three-cylinder (starting at 59 kW/80 hp, from 19,925 euros) offer decent performance, but nothing more. Hybrid or electric drives are completely missing from the Polo. There is a joker like the GTI with 152 kW/206 hp.
It is an open secret that the Polo will not survive like this. From 2025, the successor will be purely electric, built in Barcelona on a line together with its technical brothers from Skoda and Cupra. Then the top 5 small cars will be completely reshuffled.
4th place – Toyota Yaris
In the fourth generation, the freshly ironed Yaris was introduced last year. Toyota offers it from 18,750 euros. The Japanese might have liked the start. 31,048 times sold the Yaris, which has recently also been available as a mini SUV Yaris Cross (from 22,690 euros). An increase of 59.2 percent over the previous year.
The Yaris Hybrid with a system output of 85 kW/116 hp was once again the absolute hit with a share of around 80 percent. It sold 26,376 times alone – which expresses the great trust customers have in the competence of the system with a combustion engine and electric drive. Especially since Toyota has no real competition in this segment.
The hybrid drive of the Yaris has been redesigned, the combustion engine often switches off completely and imperceptibly, the vehicle is 20 kilos lighter. In this way, realistic consumptions of around and under four liters can be achieved. While the Yaris is absolutely up to par when it comes to assistance systems, the sometimes cheap, scratch-sensitive hard plastic does not seem contemporary at all.
A word about the strongest Yaris, the GR. The little firecracker with 192 kW/261 hp (from 34,000 euros) has developed into an absolute cult vehicle. Toyota assigns its sportiest tots to virtually. There are significantly more inquiries than vehicles, GRs are already being traded for over 50,000 euros on the Internet.
3rd place – Mini Cooper
The Mini price list starts with the three-door Cooper (100 kW/136 hp) at a confident 26,100 euros. So it’s not really surprising that the British icon had to lose feathers in the face of austerity waves in the country. 40,142 Minis sold mean a decline of 6.5 percent. Especially since the BMW offshoot with a business share of 44.9 percent is mainly bought and financed by private individuals.
Incidentally, only around ten percent opted for the expensive and long outdated Mini SE. The all-electric variant (from 35,700 euros) will be relaunched this year.
Otherwise, the following applies: small but nice. Even the entry-level Mini pleases with its cultivated, pleasantly elastic three-cylinder. The top-of-the-range model Cooper Works delivers a fun 170 kW/231 hp. Customers can still choose between three-door, five-door (16 centimeters longer) and cabriolet.
They all have one thing in common: plenty of space isn’t exactly the Mini’s core competency. The agile driving characteristics, which has made the BMW offshoot the dream car of young buyers in particular for years, are on the plus side. Likewise, the good workmanship and the top all-round view. The relatively high interior noise is a negative factor. In addition, one notices that the seemingly ageless Mini is now getting a bit old.
2nd place – Opel Corsa
Ironically, the small Opel is popular with company car drivers. 67.2 percent of all Corsa are commercially registered. The Rüsselsheim bestseller also benefits from the electric shock. Of the 50,191 units sold after all, 14,979 pieces carried the E-mark.
The 100 kW/136 hp variant is available from 33,895 euros, with the 50 kW/h battery a realistic range of around 300 kilometers is possible. Even with the eternal Corsa, the driving characteristics and the overall problem-free handling are convincing. The battery version loses around 40 liters of trunk volume compared to the combustion engine colleagues (petrol and diesel), there are only 267 liters. Entry into the Corsa world starts with the 1.2 liter petrol engine with 55 kW/75 hp at 20,440 euros.
1st place – Fiat 500
You don’t have to go along with every (negative) trend right away. Says apparently Fiat and refutes that small cars are discontinued models. With the Fiat 500, the Italians lead the field of car dwarfs. 52,337 times the stylish smooch ball was sold in 2022, an increase of 46.2 percent. Well over half of all customers chose the electric drive, which starts at 30,990 euros.
The completely new development with its own platform looks like someone inflated the 500 from the inside. Good materials, clever details and contemporary infotainment are just as much a part of the Sympathikus’ strengths as its unproblematic handling.
The rather spongy steering and the somewhat brittle suspension could be chalked up as points of criticism. According to the factory, a range of up to 321 kilometers is possible depending on the battery type (23.8 or 42 kWh). Alternatively, the 500 is also available as a hybrid with 51 kW (70 hp). Striking: 65.8 percent of all 500s are registered as company cars.
More: The new Golf class – these compact SUVs were particularly popular in 2022