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Detroit Auto Show Small-Car Recap

In many ways, the Corvette Stingray and Cadillac ELR claimed the limelight at the Detroit Auto Show with their fancy powertrains and extreme performance. Though many small cars don’t push the envelope like the Stingray and ELR, some important compact cars had their debuts at the North American International Auto Show.

2014 Nissan Versa Note

When Nissan redesigned the Versa for the 2012 model year, only the sedan received updates. Now the automaker is tackling the hatchback model. In a statement, Nissan says the Versa Note, which will start at almost $14,000, rounds out the Versa model line. It will get up to 40 mpg on the highway and offer tech features such as a navigation system, hands-free text messaging and an Around View Monitor. The Versa will also have an optional Divide-N-Hide cargo feature, which covers a hidden storage area with a flat load floor.

When asked if the Versa Note will be one of the main competitors of the Honda Fit, Al Castignetti, vice president and general manager, Nissan division, said, “No doubt. ... The styling, the packaging and still keeping the integrity and the DNA of the interior space with the cargo area, with the fuel economy, to me it’s a home run, but I would put it up and say that its number one competitor will probably be the Honda Fit.”

Toyota Furia Concept

Car and Driver thinks the Corolla Furia Concept foreshadows changes to the Toyota Corolla for the 2014 model year, saying “if the 2014 Corolla keeps the major design cues and long-wheelbase, cab-forward proportions of the Furia concept—and our spy photos of 2014 Corollas undergoing testing appear to confirm that—it should break the string of boring-looking, little white boxes the Japanese automaker has been giving us for decades.” Toyota hasn’t confirmed these speculations, but at the reveal, Bill Fay, Toyota division group vice president and general manager, stated, “It’s only a concept, but the Corolla Furia sends a clear message where we’re going in the future.”

2013 Dodge Dart GT

While Chrysler has not said if it will release Dodge Dart R/T, a high-performance version of Dodge’s new compact sedan, the automaker has confirmed the Dart GT. With a 184 horsepower, four-cylinder engine, the Dart GT is the most powerful Dart available. “The GT should satisfy buyers who place a higher priority on performance and power than on fuel efficiency,” writes USA Today. The 2013 Dart GT starts at $20,995 and goes on sale this year.

2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class

Currently, Mercedes-Benz doesn’t offer a small sedan in the United States, but that will change when the 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class goes on sale this fall. Mercedes-Benz says the all-new compact sedan will have a 208-horsepower, turbocharged, four-cylinder engine, a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission and optional all-wheel drive. Its available safety and entertainment features include collision prevention assist, blind-spot monitoring and Command infotainment system. Mercedes-Benz hasn’t released pricing information, but Autoblog expects the CLA-Class to start around $30,000.

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