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The Best Thing About Bigger Cars Is They’ve Given Us Smaller Cars

One of car enthusiasts’ favorite topics to complain about is growing cars — cars that are getting too big, too bulky, too heavy and massive and oversized. I see the merits of this complaint, especially for enthusiasts who want smaller, more tossable, more exciting cars, as it now seems automakers make up for their growing cars by simply adding more power, rather than actually making them more nimble and exciting. But bigger cars have provided us with a big benefit.

Namely, that benefit is: smaller cars. Car enthusiasts haven’t seemed to pay attention to this side of the “big cars” coin, which is the simple fact that bigger, growing cars have actually made room for a new generation of smaller cars to swoop in — and that’s a pretty cool thing.

Here’s what I mean. Yes, it’s true that the Audi A4 and the BMW 3 Series have grown — and quite a lot — over the last 20 years. But the result is they’ve grown so much that a new segment opened up beneath them, which has given us the BMW 2 Series and the Audi A3. These models are sized similarly to the “old school” BMW and Audi models from many years ago, meaning that small cars haven’t simply gone away. In fact, they’re cropping up more and more.

This isn’t just happening with cars like the 2 Series and the A3. Consider the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, which grew so large it created an opening for the CLA. There’s the Ford Focus, which got so big that Ford decided to send us the Fiesta for the entry-level market. And in the SUV realm, the Lexus RX — once the brand’s entry-level SUV — now has two smaller models under it: the NX, and the even smaller UX. The Mazda CX-5 has made way for the CX-3. Markets are expanding, and as cars grow larger, automakers seem eager to fill the holes left by growing vehicles.

And so, even though the constant complaint of car enthusiasts is that cars are getting bigger, remember this the next time you hear someone say that — and remember that even as some cars get bigger, smaller ones appear to fill the holes left by growing sizes and models.

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  1. This phenomenon has been going on for years.  Honda is a great illustration.
    I remember observing sometime in the late ’90s that new Civics were about the same size as my 1988 Accord.  Within a few years this led to the introduction of the Fit/Jazz, which was comparable in size to the Civics of twenty years earlier.
    Toyota is a little different.  While the Corolla grew in size in the same timespan to rival the size of Camrys of earlier generations, Toyota had a model positioned beneath the Corolla all along with the Starlet/Tercel, and later the Echo/Yaris/Vitz.

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Doug Demuro
Doug Demuro
Doug DeMuro writes articles and makes videos, mainly about cars. Doug was born in Denver, Colorado, and received an economics degree from Emory University in Atlanta. After graduation, Doug spent three years working for Porsche Cars North America. Eventually, he quit his job to become a writer, largely because it meant that he no longer had to wear pants. Doug’s work has been featured in a... Read More about Doug Demuro

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