16 April 2019

The U.S. Could Use Two Seaters That Aren't Sports Cars

The Jeep CJ-2A in the late 1940s was a rugged two seater vehicle that was just 59" wide and 123.5" long (another source say 130 1/8th") that weighed just 2,137 pounds. It had 8 3/4" of ground clearance and four wheel drive. It wasn't peppy, with a 0-60 times of 21.7 seconds. It wasn't fuel efficient either, 12 mpg city and 15 mpg highway. It was not for everyone, but it and its two seater successors were wildly successful.

Small is beautiful and over the years, lots of people appreciated that point. Now, there are basically only two two seater vehicles on the market that aren't expensive sports cars or pickup trucks:

* At one extreme is the Smart ForTwo (W453) which is 65.5" wide (v. 59.6" for the original) and 106.1" long (v. 98.4" for the original) and weighs 1,940 pounds (v. 1,610 pounds for the original). Its 0-60 time is 11.2 seconds (the original was 15.5 seconds). It is an urban commuter car.

* At the other extreme is the Mazda Miata MX-5 (ND) which is 68.1" wide, 154.1" long and weighs 2,381 pounds. Its 9-60 time is 6.1 seconds. It is a budget sports car.

There are other small cars on the market that are technical four seaters, although the rear seats are only suitable for small children.

* The Fiat 500 is 64.1" wide (the narrowest production car sold in the U.S.), 138.6" long, and weighs 2,363 pounds.

* The BMW Mini Hardtop is 66.5" wide, 143.9" long and weighs 2,315 pounds.

* The Nissan Vera Note is 66.7" wide and 161.4" long.

* The Nissan Juke (AWD) is the smallest all wheel drive car for sale in the U.S. (no longer sold in 2019). It is 69.5" wide, 162.4" long, and weighs 3,146 pounds.

For comparison stake, one of the best selling four door sedans in the U.S., the Honda Accord is 72.8" wide, 191.4" long and weighs 3,193 pounds.

The proportion of driving that is done off road is tiny for civilians and surprisingly, even the amount of hard core off road driving by the U.S. military when it is deployed in conflicts has been quite modest.

But, with households that are smaller than ever, there are lots of people for whom a two seater vehicle with only a little cargo capacity is sufficient to meet their needs, and the ability to fit into narrow and short parking spaces in urban areas is valuable. These people might drive in snow and on the occasional dirty or muddy road that would make all wheel drive and more clearance than the 4.6" clearance of a Mazda Miata (with rear wheel drive) desirable. The Smart ForTwo is also not a suitable snow car, in addition to being incredibly underpowered.

Is it too much to ask for a reasonably affordable, AWD, CVT (i.e. non-manual transmission), reasonably fuel efficient compared to other subcompact conventionally fueled vehicles, two seater car that is 60" wide, 130" long, under 2,400 pounds, with at least 6.5" of ground clearance, a 0-60 time of less than 9 seconds, and a design that isn notable without being truly ugly?

This is not exactly advanced technology.

1 comment:

andrew said...

Chevy Spark is least long and least wide.