Only 1 in 27 People Can Ace This Small Cars Quiz. Can You?



By: Torrance Grey

6 Min Quiz

Image: GatewayClassicCars

About This Quiz

Is bigger better? Not to the drivers of the world's most beloved small cars -- the Fiat 500, the VW Beetle, the Honda CRX ... well, the list could go on and on. Small cars have their drawbacks -- safety concerns and hauling capacity are two -- but small-car drivers consider them to be outweighed by the benefits. These include gas mileage, lower emissions, maneuverability and easy parking. (You've probably seen a smart car wedged in crosswise to a space where no car could parallel-park). 

Not surprisingly, many of the cars in our quiz come from Europe or Japan, where dense cities make small vehicles desirable, and where people don't have to cover the wide-open spaces that rural Canadians and Americans often have to travel. Even so, North Americans have taken stylish little cars to their hearts in a big way. Just witness the success of the mini Cooper, the smart car, and the re-designed Fiat 500 in recent years. Even when gas prices aren't soaring, some people still want "less to love" in their cars. 

How much do you know about the world's most popular little cars -- as well as the oddball microcars that didn't really catch on? We've got a quiz to test your small-car savvy! Buckle up and give it a try!

In the UK, a sexy hatchback car is usually called a _______.

The UK show "Top Gear" frequently refers to "hot hatches" or "hot hatchbacks." You'll hear this term less in North America.


What year was the original Volkswagen Beetle introduced in the US?

This seems surprisingly early to those who associate the Beetle with the 1960s. In fact, the Beetle was briefly marketed as a "Victory Wagon" (VW, get it?) to take the taint off its being a German car. WWII hadn't been over for very long, after all.


What country does the Fiat 500 come from?

Fiat stands for "Fabbrica Italiani Automobili Torino," the Turin-based company founded by Giovanni Agnelli. When the Fiat 500 was re-styled for a new generation, TV commercials in America showed the little car emerging from the Atlantic Ocean onto a beach in America.


When was the original Fiat 500 released?

The first 500 was released in 1949. But it is most associated with the 1950s and 1960s, a colorful, swinging era in Europe in general, and Italy in particular.


What year was the new Fiat 500 introduced?

The Fiat 500 was unveiled with great fanfare in 2007. It became wildly popular in the United States, surprising given that the US was the land of the SUV.


Minis are a key element in which heist movie?

This movie boasted two things that were classically English: actor Michael Caine, and the three lively Minis that lead police on a wild chase through Turin. It also ends in one of cinema's greatest literal cliffhangers.


What rare innovation did the 1960s Mini use?

The Mini's unusual transverse-engine, front-wheel drive system was so rare it led to a popular prank: asking a mechanic to work on the rear differential. A front-wheel drive car has no rear differential.


Which country makes the Citroen?

A number of Citroen cars are light and compact. The company also ventured into "microcar" making with its Prototype C cars in the 1950s.


Which carmaker makes the Golf?

The "Golf" is a long-running product for Volkswagen. At times, it has been badged as the "Rabbit" or "Jetta" in North America, before being sold under the "Golf" name.


Which of these cars was NOT made by Volkswagen?

Morris is a British car. It's another name for the Mini.


Which of these are alternate names for the Mini?

Perhaps it's appropriate that this car has several aliases. After all, it was a star player in a classic heist movie!


Which of these small cars was built on a VW Beetle chassis?

The Karmann Ghia sports car was a joint project between VW and the independent carmaker Karmann. It's a classic symbol of the European "dolce vita" lifestyle of the mid-20th century.


The VW Scirocco takes its name from a ____.

A scirocco is an southeastern wind in North Africa and southern Europe. The car used the VW Golf chassis, but had much sleeker body styling.


Which of these was a classic inexpensive car in the US of the mid- to late 1970s?

The Rabbit replaced the Beetle in the US market. Although never as iconic, it was omnipresent in the '70s and '80s -- affordable and reliable.


Finish the advertising slogan: "The ___ is Go!"

To introduce the Honda Fit, the carmaker did a series of commercials modeled on Japanese anime, with bright, flashing colors. The slogan was simply "The Fit is Go!"


Which of these Volkswagens had a "ragster" version?

The name is a mashup of "ragtop" and "speedster." This concept car was introduced in 2005.


What year was the new VW Beetle discontinued?

The modern Beetle had a good long run, from 1997 to 2011. You can still see plenty of them on the streets.


Which of these comes from a former communist country?

Dacia is the major carmaker of formerly communist Romania, and Yugo was, of course, from Yugoslavia. The brand marketed as "Yugo" in the US is more commonly known as "Zastava" in Europe, and is based in Serbia (since the breakup of Yugoslavia).


What part of the car does "cabriolet" refer to?

A "cabriolet" is a car with a fold-down roof. Several small cars in this quiz, like the VW Beetle, have cabriolet models.


Which nation does the smart car come from?

Germany has quite a history of making microcars. Many didn't catch on, but the smart car did. And yes, the "s" is supposed to be lowercased. Really, smart, are you too cool to captialize?


Which carmaker is a joint project with Swatch and Mercedes?

The name stands for "Swatch Mercedes Art." Naturally -- it couldn't just mean "smart" in the usual sense. Honestly, smart, can't you do anything straightforwardly?


Which carmaker produced the two-seater CRX from 1984 to 1991?

The Honda CRX was a "hot hatch" two-seater. Its HF model (for "high fuel efficiency") could, given proper tire inflation and regular filter changes, achieve highway mileage of 60 mph or more. Consumer advocate David Horowitz didn't believe this, and tested it -- getting an astounding 65 mph.


Which car replaced the Honda CRX?

Compared to the CRX, the Del Sol was not well received. Its semi-convertible, removable-hardtop design gave it a reputation as -- well, the term "Malibu Barbie car" comes to mind. Production ceased in 1997.


Which of these is the legendary designer of the original Mini?

Not to be confused with Alec Guinness, Issigonis was a Greek-British designer of cars. He was knighted in the late 1960s.


What color did the Honda CRX not come in?

It later became popular to release fuel-efficient hatchbacks in bright green to underscore their eco-friendliness, but the CRX preceded that trend. They mostly came in black, red, white and silver, with a few models in bright yellow or a metallic aquamarine.


What year did Volkswagen stop making the Karmann Ghia?

The last Karmann Ghias rolled off the line in 1974. Despite this, you occasionally see a vintage Karmann Ghia, well cared for, on the street.


The first hybrid car available in the US was the _____.

Some people might guess the Prius based on its runaway popularity -- but the Insight beat the Prius to the market. It never became a huge success because it had only two seats.


Which years did the Toyota Prius have a trunk?

The small-sedan-with-trunk model was sold in North America in 2001 and 2002. After that, Toyota switched to the better-looking hatchback design that now throngs California's highways like bison used to throng the Great Plains.


Which carmaker makes the "fortwo" and "forfour"?

We're embarrassed to admit how long we looked at the "fortwo" and thought it was pronounced "fort woe." Frankly, "forfour" looks like a sexy Gallic word, as well.


Do cars ever come with just three wheels?

They sure do! Consider the PeelP50, a three-wheeler so small that Jeremy Clarkson drove it around the halls of the BBC Television Centre. There's also the German "bubble car," the Toyota iRoad, and more. (We advise not taking corners very fast, though).


What gave the citroen "2CV" its name?

Yup, the lowest-powered model was "deux chevaux," or two horsepower. Why not just go back to a cart with two horses, in that case?


What Fiat model replaced the original 500?

The 126 simply wasn't as popular. It did hang on through the 1990s in eastern Europe, though, where there was less choice in cars.


In what country are microcars called "kei cars"?

With some of the world's most densely-populated cities, Japan has good reason to value small size in a car. There are tax benefits to driving a "kei car," just like California offered special access to carpool lanes for hybrid cars in the 2000s.


Which of these VW cars came between models of the better-known Scirocco?

The Corrado can be mistaken for the Scirocco by the uninitiated, but it has sleeker styling and a small rear spoiler. Fewer than 100,000 were produced, and it's still a favorite of car buffs.


What kind of '90s cars do Edward Norton and Brad Pitt smash up with golf clubs in "Fight Club"?

According to, both Pitt and Norton disliked the idea of Volkswagen repackaging a 1960s classic with 1990s gloss for a new generation -- in other words, spoon-feeding a whole generation Boomer nostalgia. (Pitt has apparently changed his mind about the Beetle, however).


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