Cohort Pic(k) of the Day: Suzuki Wagon R, Trabant, And Geo Metro – The Evolution Of The Small Car Through The Decades

Roshake 77 posted this delightful shot of three small cars at the curb in Budapest. The perfectly represent the evolution of the species of small car over several decades.

But let’s take a closer look at them before we get into that.

I cropped the shot so that we can see them a bit more closely. The Trabant, which first appeared in 1957, reflects the common trend at the time (and earlier too) to make small cars look like smaller version of big cars, in the three-box idiom of the times.

The Geo Metro (Really? A Geo in Hungary?) aka: Suzuki Swift embodies the two-box hatchback that came to utterly dominate that segment, as well as one or two classes larger too. The modern small hatchback started with the Renault 4, in 1962, and quickly spread. The majority were two doors, although there were some four doors too.

The Suzuki Wagon R, as sold in Europe, is a wide-body version of a kei “van”, a format that has become the single most popular body type in Japan. For good reasons, as its space utilization simply can’t be beat, thanks to the tall and boxy body. I’d feel right at home in it.

The Wagon R was a minor hit in Europe after it arrived in 1997, as there were a lot of folks who could appreciate what it offered. Opel sold a version, the Agila. Eventually sales tapered off, and other European small CUVs, MPVs and tall wagons took their place.

Is that a Fiat 500’s nose poking into the picture. That would have added another good chapter to this little tale: the retro small car.