Superminis - 3

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Vauxhall Trixx
Price from 7000 (est)
On sale 2012
What is it? New city car, but not with an inflatable seat perhaps

The Trixx was originally a 2004 concept car that showed off clever ideas including a 3+1 layout with an inflatable, taxi-style occasional seat. All went quiet for several years, but we've heard whisperings that the concept car is being rekindled as buyers look for ever-more economical solutions.

While the inflatable seat and the concept's sliding door are unlikely to feature, the Trixx could do well as a super-efficient runabout but it's the same size as a Toyota iQ, so don't expect to have enough space for four adults.

There are even rumours the Trixx could be offered with an electric drivetrain to rival other newcomers such as the wacky Renault Twizy, but details are a long way from being confirmed.

BMW Isetta (pictured)/Fiat Topolino
Price from 7000
On sale Early 2011
What is it? A microcar with both petrol and electric power

The Mini has proved there's money to be made from premium small cars. A tie-up with supermini specialist Fiat suggests Mini's parent company BMW is serious about making more, and the first is likely to be a tiny city car, with the petrol version capable of 100mpg.

The BMW will probably be called the Isetta (after the company's 1950s bubble car). Fiat will also go retro with the name and call its version the Topolino, after a small car that it made back in the 1930s.

The two-way agreement would have both cars sharing a platform, possibly a shortened version of the Fiat Panda's. In return, BMW would contribute its electric drivetrain (now being tested in the Mini E) and possibly an all-new, ultra-efficient petrol engine.

Peugeot 208
Price from 10,500 (est)
On sale Early 2012
What is it? Peugeot's 207 replacement, which could mark the end for the GTi badge

It's still a couple of years away, but Peugeot superminis are such big sellers that the 208 is already being talked up. In a recent interview, Peugeot's chief executive officer, Jean-Marc Gales, told us that the 208 will buck the trend of modern 'minis by being smaller than the 207 it replaces.

The 208's shape remains a mystery, however. We wouldn't be surprised to see a scaled-down, sportier version of the 3008's front end, but the sleek nose of the upcoming RCZ coupe could also feature. The H2O fire engine concept may provide further clues.

Hot hatch fans should prepare for disappointment, though. Despite being responsible for some of the greatest hot hatches ever, Peugeot says the GTi idea is 'dead', as far as it is concerned.

Volkswagen Up! (pictured)/E-Up!
Price from 8000 (est)
On sale 2011
What is it? New 'Lupo' will be both petrol and battery powered

Volkswagen will launch a new small and ultra-efficient city car in just over a year, with an electric version coming in early 2013.

The idea has been around since 2007, when the Up! concept car was shown at the Frankfurt motor show. The philosophy was simple: to do away with unnecessary gimmicks and use minimalist design to maximise space. The rear-mounted engine and rear-wheel drive also created more cabin space than you'd expect from a car just 3.4m long and 1.6m wide. However, the production Up! will be front-wheel drive, to reduce costs. It's likely to be 25cm shorter, too, making it the same size as the battery-powered E-Up!, unveiled a few months ago.

The E-Up! has also been confirmed for production and will be front-wheel drive. Unlike some current EVs, it will also be quite nippy. The concept car takes just 11.3sec to reach 62mph, and motorway travel will be possible the E-Up! can reach 84mph and do up to 80 miles. A full charge takes five hours, but topping up to 80% takes just 60 minutes from a domestic socket aided by solar roof panels, although these may not make it to the production model.

The decent performance has a lot to do with the E-Up!'s low weight. It tops the scales at just 1085kg, which isn't a lot considering the 240kg of lithium-ion batteries on board.

Volkswagen L1/Polo Bluemotion (pictured)
Price from 15,000 (est)
On sale from 2010
What is it? Two mega-efficient cars one next year and one in 2015

Volkswagen showed just how much further diesel engine efficiency has to go with its hybrid L1 Concept car, unveiled at the Frankfurt motor show in September.

Aluminium and carbonfibre keep its weight to just 380kg, and with a 0.8-litre, two-cylinder diesel engine it manages a massive 189mpg. The small electric motor cuts in only when extra acceleration is required, making the L1 capable of hitting 62mph in 14.3sec.

The L1 won't be about until 2015, several years after the new Polo Bluemotion, which is out in March. The Polo will cost from 14,500 (ouch!), but will officially emit just 90g/km of CO2, making it tax-exempt. The new 1.2-litre three-cylinder diesel engine will also do a whopping 83.1mpg.

Also on the way...
What and when...new cars coming your way in 2010
Tata Nano
Toyota Yaris
Mini E
Fiat Panda
Hyundai ix-Metro
Skoda City
Subaru R1e electric
Toyota FT-EV electric pictured
Vauxhall Corsa