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Keep reading to see the three coolest minicars from this year’s New York International Auto Show.


Small is big in the United States, and that less-is-more trend has helped minicar makers steer clear of a bad case of sales-floor blues. A glance around the recent New York International Auto Show revealed that these minis are also finding new ways to max out the fun factor for the fast-and-curious crowd.

To keep the Mini Cooper brand from wilting in the public’s mind, the BMW subsidiary has unzipped an upgraded 2009 convertible (MSRP $27,450, with a combined 29 mpg) with its very own fun meter -- the Openometer gauge -- to track the number of hours one spends with the top down. To keep your sun-and-fun meter humming, the engineers also made it a snap to raise or lower the top -- even while rolling along at under 20 mph. For an extra $500, you can get a 10-speaker Mini Hi-Fi that’s been drawing some loud praise from audio aficionados. And to keep everything on the safe side, there’s a roll bar that pops up just in case you flip a little too much for this car.

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Toyota has taken the Yaris, made it a five-door Liftback, and -- to banish any troubling thoughts that could connect downsized with diminished power -- kept its 1.5 liter, four-cylinder engine that can rev up 6,000 rpm off of a 106-horsepower engine. Variable valve timing with intelligence (that’s VVT-i to your friends) is on board to ensure engine harmony and performance. At 103 pound-feet of torque, the Yaris -- which starts at a stripped-down $13,305 -- can really pop off the starting line, even if it won’t threaten any muscle-car drivers at the finish.

Still not small enough? Then have patience, because Toyota also unveiled its new Scion iQ in New York. Without any hybrid technology, the little mini can scoot along at 54 miles to the gallon, which beats out the Prius (48) for fuel-economy bragging rights. Unlike the Prius, though, you can only get three adults and a dog in the vehicle. And not a big dog -- we’re talking poodles and beagles here. Toyota is sure that the iQ will appeal to the Japanese, but it’s still feeling out the pulse of America to see if it quickens at the sight of it as well.