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Chris Bruce2011-08-16 09:56:28

Defend Your Favorite: Small-engined Cars

Defend Your Favorite: Small-engined Cars

Defending Your Favorite is a regular feature that we are trying out on Autoviva. The concept is that once a week, one of our writers will write an argument about something car related that he or she feels is divisive, unfairly maligned, ignored or treated badly. Then, it is time for the readers to tell the writers whether they are right or completely out of their minds.

Personally, I love cars with less than 1000cc displacement, especially sports and racing cars. To me there is no better way to show the skill of a driver or the efficiency of an engine than by putting such extreme limits on them both. 

I went to a car show last weekend where I was lucky enough to see a host of small-engined sports cars from the 60s. From Fiat 850s and Abarth 695s to a BMW 700 that was lapping the track. While entirely impractical for anything more that buying groceries, these cars exemplify the fun in driving a slow car at its limit. 

It is easy to make the argument that small bore race cars are cool. Who does not find a Fiat Abarth somehow charming? But I even think tiny-engined road cars are cool and can even be fun. 

The Japanese have an entire class of cars for tax reasons made up of 660cc microcars. They are legislated to make at most 63hp and be at most 3.4m long. It is from these meager rules that an entire ecosystem of funky, fun cars have developed. Below, I have posted a video from the Japanese series Best Motoring of a race among a group of kei cars. 

I know that there are plenty of arguments about cars with small engines, and as an enthusiast from America, I am supposed to pat Ford and Chevrolet on the back for creating huge, gas guzzling V8s that produce tons of torque. To be honest I do not get it though. I never have. While fun at first glance, I would rather have a car that handles better and is cheaper to run.

This argument extends to two further points: sound and speed. As car fans, we all love the sound that cars make and have at least some enjoyment of speed. A car with less than a liter of engine is never going to have the sound of a grunting five liter V8, and as long as we are comparing apples to apples, the V8-powered car is going to be a lot faster. But lets talk about momentum for a second. Learning to carry a car through a corner without braking is a ton of fun. It might sound a little buzzy, and it will not be as fast to 60. Perception is often as good as reality while driving, and if you feel like you are driving fast then it is as good as driving fast.  

Look at the pictures and videos that I have posted and make your own mind up. Are small-engined cars cool or are they boring because they are not fast?




They're cool around town; that's what they're designed for. In the big boys world it's all about the sound, speed and the thrills. Most of them are FWD too, so they're not as fun to drive as RWD.
15.08.2011 @ 20:52
I love the Lotus Exige , this car has 4 Cyl , 1.8L, Supercharged Engine, and can SMOKE the Ford Mustang, which has a V8, 4.6 L Engine
16.08.2011 @ 05:11
Small sport cars make a lot of sense, and helped a great many drivers to start. Look at the Mini Cooper, the Renault 8 Gordini, the Renault 4CV, the Fiat 500, etc... Also now, with ecological concerns...
09.12.2011 @ 00:51


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