A sport compact is a high-performance version of a compact car or a
subcompact car. According to
Motor Trend in a comparison entitled
"Small, Fast, Fun", the sports compact car has to accomplish the
multiple duties of a "family car" and a "daily driver" - thus having
more than two doors and seating at least four passengers - while also
being "fun to drive" on all roads and in town.
2 Market trends
There is no precise definition and the description is applied for
marketing purposes to a wide variety of models, but typical "sport
compacts" are front engined, front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive
coupés, sedans, or hatchbacks driven by a straight-4 gasoline engine.
In most cases, they are versions of mass-market cars that are factory
produced with additional features and upgrades. Performance-oriented
sport compacts generally focus on improving handling and increasing
performance by engine efficiency, rather than increasing engine size.
Sport compacts often feature external body modifications to improve
aerodynamics or house larger wheels.
"Econosport" is a rarely used term for a sport version of a small
A partial list of some of the sport compact cars is here.
Subaru Impreza WRX STI
Sport compacts remain one of the largest segments of the performance
car market in Europe and Japan, and is seeing a resurgence in North
America after declining sales in the 1990s.
Japanese manufacturers such as Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi,
Subaru have continued to release new generations of sport compacts,
such as the
Honda Civic Si, Mazdaspeed3, and the
Nissan Sentra SE-R
Spec V. General Motors and other American companies has responded with
the Saturn Ion Red Line, the
Pontiac G5 GT, and the Chevrolet Cobalt
SS. Dodge released the
Neon SRT-4 in this class, and later the Caliber
SRT-4, high-performance versions of their respective models.
European manufacturers have long offered multiple high-performance
compacts in Europe and many of these are imported to North America.
These are called hot hatches or warm hatches depending on engine power
as they are available as hatchbacks. They include the VW Golf GTI
(which was first announced in 1975), Volkswagen R32 and
Car modding and Import scene
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Ford Escort RS Cosworth
Ford Escort RS Cosworth at the 2008 Greenwich Concours d'Elegance
in Greenwich, Connecticut.
After-market modifications or customization is commonly referred to as
tuning. This has given rise to the term "tuner" for the owners of
modified sport compacts (and other vehicle classes), and by extension,
their automobiles. As with trucks and other vehicle categories, there
is a large market for performance-enhancing equipment designed to fit
small cars. "Tuning" is also symbolized by cosmetic and
non-performance related vehicle modifications. It is the subject of
some controversy whether to recognize a compact "tuner" car that has
been modified to offer lesser vehicle performance than a "sport
Cosmetic tuning may include changing the interior (such as changing
the shift knob and steering wheel as an example) and exterior
decoration, installation of a
DVD combined with a powerful sound
system, adding neon headlights and other aftermarket lighting systems
to name but a few. Performance tuning can include the modification of
the car's aerodynamics, adding a nitrous oxide injection system,
changing wheels and tires, chip tuning, installation of a weighted
gear knob and a short shifter, changing filters and so on.
Restoration of a Japanese import to its JDM specifications (or J-Spec)
is one example of modification for tuners in North America. It is
quite common for Japanese automakers to produce or export less
powerful versions of their models to the North American market. The
common exception to this is the 1993-1998 Toyota Supra which received
a more powerful engine for US export due to the "Gentleman's
Agreement" in Japan. Such modifications usually involve swapping
engines and transmissions. Popular examples include the conversion of
parts from a JDM Silvia onto a USDM
Nissan 240SX, or replacing JDM
Honda parts and equipment (such as from a Civic Type-R) onto a United
States domestic market USDM
Honda Civic. Most Hondas are particularly
good examples of this because of the cost saving "parts bin" designing
used at Honda. To save production costs many high-end production
equipment use the same or similar mounting locations as a cheaper or
lower-performance alternative. These modifications can also be
cosmetic, such as the replacement of the front fascia or rear spoiler
with its JDM counterpart.
Volkswagen Golf I in competition
Small cars with high power ratings can be formidable racing vehicles.
Sports Car Club of America
Sports Car Club of America has long hosted races for compact cars.
More recently, sport compacts have become so popular that the
Australian National Drag Racing Association (ANDRA) (www.andra.com.au)
now have special classes for sport compact racing, and the National
Hot Rod Association (NHRA) has made sport compact cars eligible to
compete in the Lucas Oil Sportsman Series, and Sport Compact "Pro RWD"
type cars are used in the NHRA
Pro Stock category as the Chevrolet
Cobalt is used as the manufacturer's car in the class. All these
classes are officially sanctioned by ANDRA and are recognised through
a series of successful events and National Records.
Some highly modified sport compact dragsters can accelerate from
0-60 mph in less than four seconds.
Sport compacts are fairly popular for autocross competitions. The
Acura Integra, Toyota Celica, and MINI Cooper are some of the more
successful sport compacts within their classes.
Sport compact cars have been the backbone of rallying, rallycross and
drifting since their beginnings.
The former NASCAR Goody's DASH Series found new life in 2005 when
acquisitioned by International Sport Compact Auto Racing Series
(ISCARS) DASH Touring, which tours primarily on asphalt ovals
throughout the southeast. In 2008 the series accepted the sanction of
American Speed Association (ASA). The
TC 2000 Championship
TC 2000 Championship is one
of the touring car racing series which involves sport compacts.
^ "Small, Fast, Fun: Sport Compact
Car Comparison". Motor Trend.
January 5, 2009. Retrieved March 13, 2017.
^ DiPietro, John (10 May 2002). "2002 Econosport Sedans Comparison
Test". Edmunds. Retrieved 26 April 2013.
^ "Superfour Challenge - -
Car and Driver - November 2005".
Driver. Retrieved 2011-11-08.
^ "ISCARS". Iscarsonline.com. 2011-03-23. Retrieved 2011-03-31.
^ "ASA Racing". ASA Racing. Retrieved 2011-03-31.
Personal luxury car
Leisure activity vehicle
Cabriolet / Convertible
Coupé de Ville
Drophead coupe (Convertible)
Saloon / Sedan
Sedanca de Ville (
Coupé de Ville)
Spider / Spyder (Roadster)
Town car (
Coupé de Ville)
Gasoline / petrol (direct injection)
Homogeneous charge compression ignition
Layout (engine / drive)
Front / front
Front mid / front
Rear / front
Front / rear
Rear mid / rear
Rear / rear
Front / four-wheel
Mid / four-wheel
Rear / four-wheel