The compact segment is the most competitive in the European market. Cars measuring around 4 meters are the top-sellers on this side of the pond. They usually offer good room for the price, and they also offer cargo space once the back seats are folded. This segment is dominated by local models, such as the VW Golf (the leader to beat) and the Ford Focus, to name two models which are familiar to our US readers. The engines of choice are usually diesels and although low-sulfur diesel has been sold in Europe for a long time, they still pollute with particulates which cause smog. Particulate filters just aren't widespread yet and are currently installed only in premium models, very much like the implementation of cathalysts in gasoline cars, which started in the '90s.

However, this is not only a matter of European automakers. Japanese and Korean manufacturers are also in this race to get their chunk of the European market. And as a sample, here's the new Toyota Auris. The European compact Toyotas are a set of three models: the Corolla sedan, the Auris hatchback and the Verso MPV. One of Toyota's latest innovations has been the D-CAT (Diesel Clean Advanced Technology) range of diesel engines which appeared in 2005 in the Euro-Accord Avensis models.Toyota's particulate filter captures combustion debris in a reservoir and when it's full, the particulates burn completely - This means that at a certain moment, a Toyota leaves a grey cloud of smoke but leaves no particulates. Of course, the system is more complex and it includes special piezoelectric injectors, gas recirculation when the engine is cold and other features which makes these engines less polluting.

You might wonder what the performance of these engines are: 2.2 liters, and two different power outputs: 177 HP and 400 Nm of torque (about 295, and 125 HP and 300 Nm (230 Although it's the Auris we're showing here today, the D-CAT range of engines are currently installed in these three compact models mentioned and the RAV-4.

[Source: Toyota]
[Edited: Of course, Toyota's middle car is the Avensis in Europe, not the Accord!. Thanks to Joseph for pointing this out]

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