Small family cars - 2

* 198 new cars revealed * Secret projects coming your way * The cars you need to see...

Small family cars - 2

Lexus LF-Ch
Price from 20,000 (est)
On sale 2011
What is it? Prestige hatchback with petrol-electric capability

Lexus has caught the downsizing bug and wants to share in the success of cars such as the Audi A3 and BMW 1 Series. However, rather than just trying to copy the competition, it will use its green technology to create the first hybrid car in this class.

It might be a concept car, but don't expect the overall look to change drastically before it goes on sale. Lexus says it's not just a design study, but rather a clear indication of where the brand is headed. That means the dramatic styling will stay to tempt younger buyers to this entry point in the Lexus line-up. This aesthetic approach continues on the car's inside, too, with what the company calls 'dynamic design combined with hand-sculpted details'.

Like the hybrid GS, LS and RX models, this petrol-electric vehicle is a friend of the earth, promising low CO2 emissions and minimal nitrogen oxide emissions and particulate matter. Lexus believes that petrol hybrids are the way forward because future emissions laws will make driving diesel cars less viable.

This five-door hatchback will be able to run in full electric mode producing zero emissions and little noise a key part in what Lexus describes as its 'quiet' revolution.

Alfa Romeo Giulietta (artist's impression)
Price from 16,500 (est)
On sale Mid 2010
What is it? A full-bloodied Italian designed to enchant buyers with its distinctive styling

The number's up for Alfa's tradition of giving its cars numbers in future, they'll get sexy names instead.

The 147 replacement was originally to be called the Milano, but when workers in Milan complained about being moved to Turin early next year, Alfa changed its mind and decided to call it the Giulietta instead. How very Italian.

Anyhow, the Giulietta bears more than a passing resemblance to Alfa's cutsie Mito supermini, which in turn was inspired by the gorgeous 8C Competizione supercar.

The newcomer has more to do than look pretty, however it needs to have a better ride, larger cabin and improved build quality than the 147 to catch up with rivals such as the Audi A3 and Volkswagen Golf.

Audi A3
Price from 17,000
On sale 2011
What is it? Third-generation A3

Our computer image of the all-new Audi A3 shows just how much more snazzy the car could get out go the straight lines of the current model, and in come dramatic sweeps to make the three-door a real mini A5.

Expect LED lights as standard, to comply with new regulations, and everything from super-efficient versions to a seriously fast S3 with more than 300bhp.

Saab 9-1/9-2
Price from 17,000 (est)
On sale 2012
What is it? Small and green machine for Saab to catch buyers who are downsizing

Saab is going through the wars. Most recently, Koenigsegg pulled out of talks to buy the firm but, if it can find another backer, Saab reckons a vital part of its future will be a small family car called the 9-1 or 9-2.

Potentially based around the 9-X Biohybrid concept car shown at the British Motor Show in 2008, both hybrids and electric models are being talked about.

Smaller than the 9-3, the new car will use the same underpinnings as the latest Vauxhall Astra in a bid to keep costs down as much as possible. It should also ensure it'll have a smooth and refined ride.

There are whispers that Saab will opt for plug-in electric technology and a system of quick-swap batteries, like the system that Nissan and Renault plan to use.

VW Golf Bluemotion
Price from 17,325
On sale January
What is it? VW's greenest Golf

This hatchback has a CO2 output of just 99g/km making it the greenest Golf ever. It has an official average economy figure of 74.3mpg, thanks to a 1.6-litre diesel engine with stop-start technology, and some aerodynamic tweaks to help it cut through the air more efficiently.

Also on the way...
What and cars coming your way in 2010
BMW 1 Series
Citron DS4
- (pictured)
Honda Civic
Seat Leon
Volvo S40
Citron C4
Mercedes-Benz AClass electric car
Vauxhall Astra three-door