Aluminum construction: Audi TT, from $38,300
Audi has been first with a few of the technologies found here - LED headlights, dual-clutch gearboxes and active stability control to name just a few - but in the absence of a cheaper aluminum-bodied car on sale, the TT coupe is the cheapest you'll find. The benefits of the lightweight technology can be felt in its sharp handling and strong performance.
Safety assist systems: smart fortwo pure coupe, from $10,990
The 2011 smart fortwo pure coupe proves that you don't need to sacrifice safety even at the bottom end of the market. It features ABS braking, Electronic Stability Program, Corner Brake Control, electronic brake assist, acceleration skid control and engine torque control, as well as hill-start assist and eight airbags. Also worthy of a mention is the $12,445 2012 Hyundai Accent GLS, which offers most of the features found in the smart, but higher performance and more space.
LED headlights: Toyota Prius, from $23,520
Use of LED units for headlights is becoming more widespread. They offer bright and reliable lighting, and manufacturers like Audi are demonstrating how adaptable they can be with light patterns that change depending on the road you're driving on. The Prius is currently the cheapest car with LED units, though many other makers now use LEDs as daytime running lights.