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Car confidential: Small cars are the next big thing

I’ve always had a soft spot for small cars. Even a crush on Suzuki Cappuccinos, the frothy sports cars that hailed from Japan in the 1990s to meet the domestic kei jidosha rules limiting engine size to 660cc and length to 3,400mm.

There’s a purity about these diminutive roadsters that really appeals in this congested, polluted and increasingly legislated world.

But help for pocket-sized-car enthusiasts is at hand. I will no longer have to yearn for imported Japanese K-cars – because Europe is finally waking up to the advantages of the titchy car. And not before time.

The Frankfurt Motor Show will be a haven for lovers of teeny-weenies, as the industry finally cottons on that we don’t all buy into bigger is better.

Ford will show a concept car for its next supermini, while Toyota will go one better with a study into a sub-Aygo model. Yes, it wasn’t long since we all marvelled at how it was going sub-Yaris with the Aygo, but the Japanese have really grasped the benefits of this Matrioshka doll product downsizing. Small is the new sexy.

It doesn’t stop there. Volkswagen will unveil the City Expert, a rear-engined mini that has more than a whiff of the original Beetle about its back-to-basics DNA. No flights of fancy, these – each concept will spawn a real production car by the end of the decade.

There will be plenty of small production cars too: Frankfurt hosts the debuts of the new Fiat 500, Renault Clio and Mini Clubman estates, a new Subaru Justy supermini and a racy Smart Brabus city car.

The timing couldn’t be better.

Next year, the world’s population will pass a significant milestone as, for the first time, more than half of us will live in cities.

And mini beats maxi every time when it comes to parking, emissions and running costs. Small cars are the next big thing.

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