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So, What's New?

Hyundai Elantra Coupe.
VW Beetle Cabrio.
Bentley Flying Spur.

So many cars, so little time. Which is why this week, instead of one long look at one new car, we’ll take a few short looks at a few small cars. (Okay, and one big one.)

Starting right in with the 2013 Hyundai Elantra Coupe. It’s very similar to the popular Elantra sedan, but…well, it’s a coupe. But this is very significant. For years the Honda Civic coupe has pretty much had the inexpensive two-door compact market to itself, what with the competition (Toyota Corolla, Mazda3, Nissan Sentra, Chevy Cobalt, etc.) concentrating on four-door and/or five-door models. And everyone knows that a coupe is just so much more sporty. If not in reality, at least in perception. And of course, it’s also more youthful. And that’s where the marketing value comes in. Get them hooked on your brand while they’re young, and they’ll keep coming back. Give Hyundai credit though, the Elantra Coupe is a swell-looking little car and should do well.

Speaking of the Honda Civic, although it was all-new for 2012, and we drove one last year, Honda has “freshened it up” a bit, after a raft of criticism, much of it focused on its interior. So Honda’s redone the interior some, and at the same time spiced-up the exterior while they were at it. So far, most critics of the previous model are thumbs-up on the changes.

The VW Beetle Cabriolet is being touted as “practical fun for four,” and why not? What’s more fun then the top down and the bugs in your teeth…er, wind in your hair on a warm sunny day. And for those of you keeping track, this new Beetle Cabriolet replaces the previous model, known as the New Beetle Cabriolet. Got that? New is old, no New is new.

At the other end of the automotive spectrum—way at the other end—is the new Bentley Flying Spur, which just made its world debut at the Geneva Auto Show. I know I’ll probably never get to test-drive one; good grief, I’m not sure I can even describe it properly, so I’ll let the wordsmiths from Bentley give it to you in a nutshell (a burled walnut nutshell, no doubt): “The Flying Spur meets the desires of our customers perfectly and is a car only Bentley could make—timeless design inside and out, elegant lines, ultimate material quality, attention to detail, class leading refinement and, of course, effortless performance.” And just let me add: Blah, blah, blah. I don’t know about you, but in my head I read that press statement in a Monty Python-ish voice. Yes it’s a swell-looking and I’m sure comfortable car, but is it really worth almost four times what I paid for my house just 11 years ago?

So there you have it. Three small, competent cars you could probably buy for under 60 grand total. And one for which that 60 large would make a small down payment. Nuts, isn’t it?

Read more of Jim Corbran's You Auto Know every other week in Artvoice, and more frequently on Artvoice Daily.

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