Feature: Vancouver International Auto Show car culture auto shows 2012 autoshows
Dodge Dart. Click image to enlarge

2013 Dodge Dart

With compact cars representing almost a quarter of the Canadian vehicle market, Chrysler needed a new compact car in their lineup, so they tapped their Fiat connection to borrow the Alfa Romeo Giulietta’s underpinnings to create the new Dodge Dart sedan. This front-wheel drive compact car is expected to arrive in the second quarter of 2012 with a 160-hp 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine and a 1.4-litre turbocharged motor, also found in the Fiat 500. A 184-hp 2.4-litre four may arrive later. The Dodge Dart sedan is roomier than most of its compact rivals and features high-tech digital instrumentation, but a hatchback model will not be offered. Given Chrysler’s aggressive pricing strategy recently, the Dart is likely to be one of the lowest-priced compact cars available in Canada.

2013 Chevrolet Spark

Feature: Vancouver International Auto Show car culture auto shows 2012 autoshows
Chevrolet Spark. Click image to enlarge

A marvel of space-efficiency with a heavy helping of cuteness, the new Chevy Spark will likely appeal to young, urban, entry-level buyers who want thrifty transportation for themselves and their friends. Based on the South Korean Daewoo Matiz, the new Chevrolet Spark micro car is already being sold in Europe, Australia, Asia and South America. In North America, this small city car will compete with cars like the Scion iQ and Fiat 500. Though it’s small, the four-door Spark can seat four adults and comes with a fuel-sipping 1.2-litre four-cylinder engine developing 85 horsepower. A five-speed manual transmission will be standard and a four-speed automatic optional.

2013 Mercedes-Benz B Class

Mercedes-Benz went back to the drawing board to redesign their popular B-Class hatchback model. No longer tall and rather awkward-looking, the new B-Class is lower and sportier with better ride and handling qualities, and a classier cabin with better quality materials and more modern communication technologies. At its introduction in the fourth quarter of 2012, it will offer conventional gas and diesel engines, front-wheel drive, and a new seven-speed double-clutch transmission, but Mercedes has planned for the future with a platform designed to accommodate hybrid and electric components, fuel cells, and all-wheel drive.

2012 Toyota Prius C

Smaller than the Prius hatchback and the Prius v wagon, the new subcompact Prius c hatchback is closer in size to the Toyota Yaris hatchback. Its hybrid technology is similar to the other Prius models, but it’s been downsized for lighter weight and better packaging. Its 73-hp 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine and 45 kW electric motor combine to provide 99 horsepower and fuel economy advertised at a miserly 3.7 L/100 km combined. On sale now, the Prius c is well equipped, even in base form, and ranges in price between $20,950 and $25,340.

Feature: Vancouver International Auto Show car culture auto shows 2012 autoshows
Chevrolet Spark. Click image to enlarge

2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid

Volkswagen’s first hybrid car, the compact Jetta Hybrid sedan promises to offer frugal fuel consumption with decent driving dynamics. It’s powered by a 150-hp turbocharged 1.4-litre four-cylinder engine and a 27-hp electric motor for a combined output of 170 hp. The Jetta Hybrid will be the first hybrid with a seven-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic transmission. With a claimed 0 to 100 km/h time of about 9 seconds and average fuel economy estimated at 5.2 L/100 km, the Jetta Hybrid won’t be giving up much performance for fuel economy. It’s scheduled to go on sale at the end of 2012.

2013 Chevrolet Malibu Eco

Feature: Vancouver International Auto Show car culture auto shows 2012 autoshows
Chevrolet Malibu Eco. Click image to enlarge

Redesigned for 2013, the Chevrolet Malibu uses the same global front-wheel drive platform as the Buick Regal. The Malibu Eco model will incorporate the same electric assist system used in the Buick LaCrosse eAssist, a 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine combined with a 15-hp electric motor and lithium-ion battery. GM’s estimated fuel economy is 5.3 L/100 km city and 8.1 L/100 km highway. The Malibu Eco features a lightweight aluminum hood and rear bumper support, and to reduce air drag, the grille features an active shutter and the underside features body panels. The Malibu Eco is expected to be in dealer showrooms this summer.

2013 Smart ForTwo Electric Drive

Scheduled to go on sale in Canada this fall, the zero-emissions Smart Fortwo Electric Drive is powered by a 55-kW electric motor and lithium-ion battery that provides a driving range of over 140 kilometres on a single charge. Smart quotes a 0–60 km/h time of 6 seconds, but the ForTwo Electric Drive is capable of up to 120 km/h on the freeway. The 2013 electric Smart features the same mild styling updates as its gas-powered brother, but you probably won’t even notice them. Demand for the electric Smart is expected to be high, and Smart Canada has established a national pre-ordering program that allows buyers to put down a deposit to guarantee one of the first cars to arrive later this year.

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