2011 – Downsizing without compromise

In 2011, car sales are expected to slow as the VAT increase and spiralling petrol costs hit the UK.

However, three separate sets of data released this year highlight how the ideal car for UK buyers is now smaller and greener than ever.

Exchange and Mart found in a recent survey the joint favourite motoring ‘New Year Resolution’ is to trade in a car for a greener and smaller model to save on motoring costs.

This fits in with figures from data experts JATO Dynamics and the Society of Motoring Manufacturers and Traders, who found the top ten best-selling cars in Europe were almost exclusively smaller models.

It was no surprise to see the Vauxhall Corsa second in the list and the Ford Fiesta, Citroen C3 and Renault Clio all fared well despite an overall decline in new car sales.

Downsizing to a smaller car doesn’t have to be at the expense of practicality or style. It is possible to save money from downsizing, reduce the environmental impact of the car but still fit four adults in with room to spare for luggage.

We’ve decided to indulge in a spot of speculation and outline three cars which didn’t make the top ten best-sellers list this year, but are in with a chance of sneaking in next year as customers look to downsize.

3) Kia Sportage

What is it? Released in 2010, the Sportage is Kia’s stylish SUV crossover. This means it looks and feels like an SUV and it even offers a 4×4 option. However, it is smaller than a traditional 4×4 while maintaining the practicality of a larger car.

Why will it sell well in 2010? Kia’s ‘budget’ image may be on the wane, but prices are still low enough and quality high enough to offer some of the best value in the market. The Kia Sportage looks good, but starts from just £17,015.

CO2 emissions are as low as 135g/km for the 1.7-litre diesel model in two-wheel drive, which keeps road tax down. It is matched by a relatively high fuel economy figure of 54.3mpg – one of the best in the SUV segment.

Who will buy it? Drivers who enjoy the high riding position of an SUV will appreciate the Sportage. Practicality, four-wheel drive and style in a single package rarely come this cheap. For downsizers, the Sportage would be an able replacement for a larger premium SUV such as a Land Rover or BMW X5.

2) Vauxhall Meriva

What is it? The Vauxhall Meriva is officially a ‘compact MPV’. This means it is shaped like a people carrier but the small size is nearing hatchback dimensions. The latest generation is most notable for its backwards-opening rear doors, branded ‘Flex doors’ by Vauxhall.

Why will it sell well in 2010? Ultimately practical, the Vauxhall Meriva has been designed with downsizers in mind. The five seats can be folded into a large number of combinations and the family-friendly rear-opening doors create a ‘safe load area’ for small children or elderly passengers.

Who will buy it? Owners of large, gas-guzzling MPVs will be happy to trade in for the smart-looking Meriva. It is ideal for families or those looking for extra space inside without a bulky, box-like exterior.

Starting from under £13,000, the Meriva is a low price option and comes with a low-CO2 ecoFLEX engine option which will save extensively on running costs.

1) Citroen C4

What is it? Citroen has updated the C4 hatchback – so often left in the shadow of its rivals – for 2011 with a sleek exterior and a high level of gadgets inside.

Why will it sell well in 2010? The new C4 is a huge improvement on the previous version and the amount of equipment included as standard is impressive. The Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra were unsurprising sales winners in 2010, but the C4’s popularity in its home market could see it break into the top ten this year.

Who will buy it? Owners of saloons looking to downsize could do worse than investigating Citroen’s sharper hatchback. Citroen’s efficient engine range, highlighted by the Airdream+ signature, is one of the best on the market and owners of older, less efficient cars could save money with the new C4, particularly in the case of the ultra-low CO2 diesels