Carrot Insurance’s young-driver customers tend to drive small cars, which are now often dubbed ‘superminis’ or ‘city cars’ in magazines and on TV shows like Top Gear, Fifth Gear and The Grand Tour. With the top 5 most popular cars insured by Carrot made up of the Renault Clio, Peugeot 206, VW Polo, Ford Fiesta and the Vauxhall Corsa, this week on The Root is all about amazing, weird or geeky facts relating to small cars.
Clio with V6 power?
Yes, in the days when emissions didn’t matter as much (2003 to be precise), Renault once sold the Clio with a 3-litre V6 engine. This absolutely crazy version of France’s globally-loved supermini produced a whopping 251bhp, and the Clio 255 could be chosen with a colour called Liquid Yellow, definitely making sunglasses an essential (for pedestrians and other road users!).
Nissan Micra and our former Prime Minister
“I got a call on Friday night to say that the Prime Minister was on his way round to look at one of our cars. I thought it was one of my mates, winding me up”, used car dealer Iain Harris told the Daily Mail in May 2016. But it was legit – David Cameron turned up in person to browse the second hand cars for sale and ended up buying a 2004-plate £1,500 Nissan Micra for his wife, Samantha.
VW Polo and the most insane exterior colour ever
Vehicles with one or more doors, the bonnet or a wing panel in a different colour are normally associated with hippie types or perhaps people who just wanted a repair done on the cheap. Volkswagen, though, actually came up with an idea in the mid-1990s to sell the Polo with several different coloured panels. This limited edition ‘Harlequin’ look was also made available for the Golf – and a few more modern-day VW examples can still be found in Harlequin trim.
The original Mini
BMW now owns MINI but the teeny original model has plenty of facts in its history. In a not-so-Italian-Job way, Fiat’s Italian design boss loved the Mini he tested in 1959 but told everyone he thought it was really ugly. In the original film, the Turin sewer tunnel chase was actually filmed in the slightly less glamorous city of Coventry, actor Kevin Spacey forked out an incredible $130,000 for the last classic Mini Cooper to be made, and upto 80% of the space inside the original Mini could be used by passengers – which is more than can be said for many modern cars today.
Aston Martin made a city car
Honestly, we’re not pulling your leg. The company associated with exotic supercars produced a supermini based on the Toyota iQ. Called the Cygnet, they aimed to sell 4,000 of these 1.3-litre runabouts in 2011-12, mainly pitching them to existing Aston Martin owners who might appreciate a smaller car for everyday driving in built-up areas – but they only managed 150 sales over two years. It didn’t actually cost any more than a top-spec’ Audi A1 supermini, but people obviously weren’t convinced.
Trivia on the UK’s most popular supermini
If you’re a regular reader of The Root, you’ll know that we’re talking about the Ford Fiesta, the best-selling car year-on-year by far. Fun Fiesta facts are that one is made every 86 seconds, it would take around 80 modern Fiestas to produce as much CO2 as a single 1976 model would emit, the Fiesta actually nearly ended up being called the Bobcat, and the Fiesta models sold in just one month in the UK would be enough to stretch twice around Britain’s mainland coast. Wouldn’t that be a sight?
Small Peugeot, hot Hollywood property
Actor of the moment, Tom Hiddleston, bought a Peugeot 106 as his first car, with the money he was paid for appearing in a commercial.
Cars that wear Vauxhall badges in the UK are sold with Opel badges in Europe and some other places, and although Opel bosses have always liked the Corsa name, British Vauxhall managers didn’t like its closeness to the negative-sounding worse ‘coarser’ – so the Nova name was nearly kept for the firm’s small car. Matt Smith, one of the many actors who have played the role of Doctor Who, owned a Corsa from 18 years of age right up to when he started filming alongside Daleks and the Tardis. He called his Corsa “The Shed” and we’d love to know what you’ve named your car! Also, if you’ve previously read our blog on ‘Easter eggs’ hidden in various cars, some Corsa cars from 2004 had a shark etched into one of their glove box’s hinges.
The world’s smallest cars
In terms of a model that it’s not possible to count sales of with just your fingers, it’s got to be the original Fiat 500, which was the smallest production car in the world from the 1930s right the way through to the 1970s. Its ‘Topolino’ nickname, which can be translated as ‘little mouse’, makes perfect sense. Fast forward the clock to 2017 and the world’s smallest car that people can buy is believed to be the Peel P50 in reproduction form, after a company decided to revive this iconic little motor. The tiniest car sold in any kind of volume at the moment, though, is the electric Renault Twizy, which basically doesn’t have any doors as such. Available to buy now from £6,995, only one passenger can be accommodated, who sits behind the driver.