Christmas Lights: The 10 most featherweight cars on sale today
“Simplify and add lightness” was said to be the mantra of Lotus founder Colin Chapman. Reduce weight and you can improve performance without adding power, while agility, braking and ride quality can all benefit.
With customer demands for more and more horsepower and regulatory demands for increased safety, not to mention electrification adding the heft of batteries, cars are getting heavier and heavier.
Thankfully a few manufacturers continue to buck the trend. Here, then are the 10 lightest cars on sale in the U.S. today (curb weights supplied by manufacturers.)
Caterham 7 270: 1188 pounds
With the 3104-lb Lotus Evora too portly to make the top ten it is quite fitting that the Caterham 7 (originally the Lotus Seven) is the lightest car available in America.
Ariel Atom 4: 1312 pounds
The naked Atom 4 takes the concept of the Seven and takes it to greater extremes by sticking a Honda V-TEC engine in the back and using an exposed frame with the bare minimum of bodywork.
Ariel Nomad: 1750 pounds
Ariel’s wild off-road Nomad adds long-travel suspension and windscreen to the formula for go anywhere ability yet still weighs a little over a third of a Land Rover Defender.
Chevrolet Spark: 2312 pounds
The tiny South Korean-built Spark is the cheapest new car you can buy. It also takes the honors for lightest four-door and lightest four-seater.
Mazda MX-5 Miata: 2341 pounds
Mazda achieved something remarkable with its fourth generation ND Miata. It actually made it smaller and lighter than its predecessor and almost as featherweight as the 1989 original.
Fiat 124 Spider: 2436 pounds
The 124 Spider shares its underpinnings with the Miata, but replaces some body panels for a retro look and drops the Mazda’s normally aspirated engine for turbo power. As a result the Fiata is a tad heavier than its Japanese sibling.
Alfa Romeo 4C Spider: 2487 pounds
Alfa’s catch-it-while-you-can 4C Spider uses a carbon-fiber tub to keep its weight down, while shedding the fixed roof also drops a few pounds-
Mini Hardtop 2-door: 2707 pounds
The original Mini weighed just 1279 lbs making the current generation look decidedly hefty. Nonetheless, the Mini Hardtop is still one of the lightest four-seaters in the U.S.A.
Chevrolet Sonic: 2917 pounds
Chevy gets two cars in the top ten thanks to the unremarkable Sonic. It did win a J.D. Power award for the “Most Dependable Small Car”, so light needn’t mean flimsy.
McLaren 600 LT : 2989 pounds
McLaren’s Long Tail 600LT is every inch a supercar, yet it weighs just 72 lbs more than a humdrum hatchback. Does this philosophy make McLaren the new Lotus?