Everytime I fill up at a petrol station, I cannot but envy people who drive smaller cars than mine. (Actually, a 1.6-litre car is considered as a small car in most countries. However in Singapore, it is considered as a medium car, possibly because of the relatively tiny size of our island.) Besides paying less for petrol, small car owners also spend less on road tax and maintenance. Small and micro-compact cars are therefore very popular in Singapore, especially in recent years.
Do not be mistaken, compact cars are not invented only recently.
I have seen early micro-compact cars on Singapore roads even in the 1960s when I was a kid. One example is the very cute Isetta:
One of the models had a 236 cc two-stroke engine and was meant to transport two persons. In comparison, some motorcycles today have far more powerful engines.
Perhaps the most unique feature of this car was that the only door it had was at the front. You open it very much like opening a refrigerator door. That is probably because the car was designed by Milan-based refrigerator manufacturer Rennzo Rivolta of Isotherm in 1953. However, you will probably not scoff at this little strange car if you know that it was once also manufactured by BMW.
Besides the Isetta, a common mini car in the olden days was the Fiat 600. This car had a 600 cc engine. There was also an earlier 500 cc model called the Fiat 500. The engine was located behind the car. In the second photo below, you can see ventilation slit-holes at the back which helped keep the engine from over heating.
But of course, an even more common compact car then was the Mini which also happened to be my first car. It was green. I don't mean only its colour but it was very economical with fuel and hence it was very environmentally-friendly as well:
In recent years, micro-compact cars have made a strong comeback, probably because of the reasons mentioned in the first two paragraphs of this article. Below are examples of modern compact cars which we see on our roads nowadays:
Germany's Smart Fortwo
The Smart Fortwo even spawned a "copy model" called from China (who else?) called "Noble", manufactured by Shuanghuan:
Can you spot the differences? Of course China does have original products as well - the Cherry QQ:
Japan finds it hard to take a backseat. (This is understandable because some micro-compact cars have NO backseat, haha.) Japan has the Mitsubishi "i":
And Subaru R1 (first photo) and R2:
As well as the Daihatsu Mira or Cuore as it is known here:
And of course, our very friendly neighbour does not want to be left behind as well. It has the Perodua Kelisa:
(Incidentally, the Perodua Kelisa was declared the worst car in the world by Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson.)
Two weeks ago, I even saw a model I couldn't identify. It had a registration plate starting with "SFB" (which I have blackened out in the photo):
It looked like a vehicle from Mars, doesn't it? Unfortunately, it was going so fast along Upper Thomson Road towards the city that I could not keep up with it. Hence, I can't confirm if it was indeed a little green man driving the little
green orange car.
Can any of you can identify it?