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No small change for smallest cars

A bit off-topic, but when I last blogged about Smart USA, I asserted that the two-seat successor to the ForTwo wouldn’t be among the cheapest cars in the market. I’m not sure when it was posted, but Smart USA’s site now says that its debut automobile will now start for “under $15,000.”

According to CarsDirect, that’s significantly less than the Mini Cooper’s base MSRP of $18,000, but could be a bit over the Scion xA’s MSRP of $13,360 for the manual transmission model. (add $700 for automatic). It’s also way above the Toyota Yaris hatchback MSRP of $11,670 with manual transmission (add $900 for automatic). Want to favor Detroit with your entry-level purchase? Chevy’s ’07 Aveo sedan has an MSRP of 13,590, but stays under $14,000 with automatic transmission.

So, it seems Smart is going more for lifestyle marketing than value. Perhaps Toyota’s competitor will offer different tradeoffs.