There are plenty of small cars at the Canadian International Auto Show. Here’s a look at some of the highlights:
Ford Fiesta ST
Having beefed up its smallest model for European markets for many years, Ford now brings the feisty Fiesta ST hatchback to Canada. Like the regular Fiesta, the ST uses a 1.6 L four-cylinder engine, but it’s upgraded with an EcoBoost turbocharger. It will make an estimated 197 horsepower, compared to 120 horses in the regular Fiesta, along with 214 lb-ft of torque, up from 112 lb-ft., and will be fitted exclusively with a six-speed manual transmission.
In keeping with its performance engine, the Fiesta ST will also have a uniquely-tuned and lowered suspension, quicker steering ratio, electronic stability control that can be dialled into Sport mode or turned off, and a “sound symposer,” a device that amplifies the engine’s sound on acceleration and feeds it into the cabin.
This newest Fiesta will also look the part, with unique spoilers and rear diffuser, honeycomb grille, dual exhaust pipes, and unique wheels, along with leather seats and ST-specific interior trim.
While the Rondo dropped out of U.S. showrooms in 2010, this compact people-hauler continued to soldier on in Canada, and will be replaced by an all-new version for 2014.
The new Rondo will feature sleeker, European-derived styling (it’s sold as the Carens in overseas markets), and an upgraded interior with soft-touch surfaces and improved ergonomics. The current Rondo uses a 2.4 L four-cylinder with four-speed automatic transmission, or 2.7 L V6 with five-speed automatic. The 2014 model will come with a 2.0 L four-cylinder engine with direct gasoline injection, producing an estimated 164 horsepower, and with a six-speed manual or available six-speed automatic transmission. Depending on the trim level, seating will be for five or seven passengers, and all seats will fold flat for extra cargo capacity.
Mini John Cooper Works GP
Mini delves into its racing heritage to produce its fastest production model ever. Featuring a modified 1.6 L four-cylinder with direct injection and a twin-scroll turbo, the GP makes 211 horsepower and 192 lb-ft of torque, and can scoot from zero to 100 km/h in 6.3 seconds en route to a top speed of 242 km/h.
The two-seater’s features include six-speed manual transmission, six-piston Brembo brakes, an adjustable “Sport Plus” suspension that can be lowered by as much as 20 millimetres, unique 17-inch wheels with performance tires, and aerodynamic body kit.
Inside, you’ll find Recaro sport seats, and outside, a unique shade of paint called Thunder Grey. You’ll have to hurry if you want one, though: only 2,000 are planned worldwide, and of those, Canada will get just 50 of them.
Nissan Versa Note
Having made over its Versa sedan last year, Nissan updates the hatchback, now renamed the Versa Note. The 1.8 L four-cylinder in the current hatchback is swapped out for the second-generation 1.6 L four-cylinder used in the sedan. At 109 horsepower, it’s not as powerful as the 122-horse outgoing engine, but Nissan says the car’s lighter weight and aerodynamic styling should give it the best fuel economy in the segment, when it’s paired with the optional automatic continuously-variable transmission (CVT).
Nissan also promises the most cargo space in its class, with a fold-flat second-row seat and optional cargo floor divider with hidden storage.
The Versa Note will come in three trim lines, rather than the current two trims, and its $13,348 starting price is $1,330 less than the 2012 hatchback. There will also be numerous higher-end options available, including an Around View Monitor with 360-degree view for parking, navigation system, pushbutton start, and hands-free text messaging feature.