6 March 2014

Looking at little growing bigger

Reflecting on the Geneva Motor Show as we fly away from the city for another year, one theme stands clear, writes Brian Byrne. It's the downsize upsize.

What I describe generally as city cars are getting larger. Probably making a statement as more and more of the world's, and Europe's population are living in cities.

A large case in point at this year's show is the trio of small cars produced by Toyota and Peugeot-Citroen. The Aygo (top), 108 (above) and C1 (below) are larger outside and in. It's hard to believe that it is nine years since the originals of these cars were launched, paving the way in these parts for sub-supermini cars in numbers.

In the meantime, the Koreans came on strong in the same space, particularly Kia with its Picanto and Hyundai with its i10 successor to the Atos. And, of course, closer to home Volkswagen had done the same with the up! and the versions from Skoda and SEAT.

Renault has also shifted ground with its new Twingo. More car, more doors, and an intriguing move to rear-engine format related to the fact that the platform is shared with Daimler for its next Smart. In one respect, that rear-mounted power unit retros us to the early Fiat 500s and its derivatives. I look forward to seeing how the Twingo will handle.

Ford is going the same direction with its next Ka. Though it wasn't in evidence at this show, some of us have seen the the coming car from its South American design origins, and again we have more space and five doors.

Getting back to the Aygo/108/C1 trio, each looks much different to the other now than before. Especially the Aygo, which has taken a strong move forward in hip design. Part of its offer is that a customer can change the colours of many of the external and interior trim panels, mixing and matching to taste.

Ireland differs from the main European markets in that the city car is still a very small segment. It will be interesting to see how the changed trends in the offerings might change our preferences in the coming years.