The small-car surge in the U.S. was cut short last year when once-high fuel prices dropped as suddenly as they'd risen, but the future of the market seems clear: prices will rise again, and small cars will be the best solution. To that end, Volkswagen is planning to bring its 2010 Polo compact car to the U.S. but the story is not so simple.

The Polo sold in the U.S. will be different to the one unveiled earlier this month at the Geneva Motor Show. Firstly, a new sedan model will be offered, while the regular hatch will also grow in size to suit American tastes. The size difference is due to greater height and a longer wheelbase than other versions of the Polo, said VW’s American boss Stefan Jacoby during a recent interview with Automotive News. It will be a "cross between a compact minivan and a hatchback," Jacoby explained, something like the Honda Fit.

Pricing is expected to be around the $14,000 and to maximise profits the American versions will be produced in Mexico. While an actual launch date hasn’t been pencilled in, production will most likely start in 2011.

VW's current smallest car in the U.S. is the Rabbit (Golf to the rest of the world), which sits around the middle of the carmaker’s global range. The smaller Polo could offer even smaller and more efficient engines, which could also help bring a new premium entry to the small car market while at the same time help VW meet tougher CAFE standards.

2010 Volkswagen Polo Hatchback