No matter the segment, the debate is endless. F-150 vs Silverado, Golf GTI VS Focus ST, M3 vs anything else. We hear the same vehicles brought up over and over again in a never ending debate to see who’s knowledge of vehicles they don’t and will never own is superior. What about the names we don’t hear? What if there was a better truck than F-150? A better hot hatch than the GTI?
The vehicles we get here in North America are the ones that big automotive companies expect to sell lots of. Hundreds of millions of dollars are spent each year to determine that, surprise surprise, people love taking crossovers through the drive through. The vehicles that we see everyday on the streets are not the same as someone in the UK, Germany, or South Africa would see. Does that mean that our vehicles are superior to those found in other locations? Not always.
The Foreign Exchange
Something as simple as a Ford pickup truck can be different when traveling from North America to parts of Asia. Just as a McDonald’s in Hong Kong would have different menu items compared to a McDonalds here, car manufacturers offer varieties of different vehicles depending on the market they sell them in. Most of the time, this is done by re-badging the vehicle, such as how GM operates Holden Motors in Australia. There are some brands however that aren’t simple re-badges, that no matter how badly we want them, they are unique to a different market.
French automaker Renault was founded in 1899. While we’ve never managed to have any Renault dealers here in North America, Renault has been enjoying quite a successful run over the years. By production volume, Renault is the 11th largest producer of automobiles. Renault also owns a controlling stake of Nissan, a company whose vehicles we do see here.
Renault has a storied history in motorsports, especially when it comes to F1 racing. Drivers like Michael Schumacher and Jacques Villeneuve have contributed to Renault’s 12 F1 championships. Though now exited from the competition, Renault was one of the earliest contributors to the now famous red bull F1 team.
Renault is known for offering sportier, fun cars. The majority of their vehicles feature a 5 door design, from their ultra compact twingo, their immensely popular Clio, up to their Captur crossover. All of Renaults vehicles start at under twenty thousand pounds, which is roughly forty thousand Canadian.
The most interesting vehicles from Renault’s lineup are the Megane Renaultsport 275 Trophy (even with it’s long, cumbersome name) and the Twizy. the MR 275t (as we’ll call it from here on out) is the hot hatch from Renault. With 275 hp from a turbocharged four cylinder engine, the MR 275t holds its own against the GTI’s and Focus ST’s of North America. The styling on the MR 275t is absolutely gorgeous as well, making it quite unfortunate there are no Renault dealers on this continent.
The Twizy doesn’t get the blood flowing the same way as the MR 275t does, but it’s still a very interesting vehicle. With the growing trend here to make vehicles bigger and more obtuse, Europe is making their vehicles smaller and more economic (as has usually been the way). The Renault Twizy is a single seat, fully electric vehicle that offers zero emissions and four wheel discs, in a package smaller than a smart car. The Twizy retails for under fifteen thousand, and with urban sprawl claiming more of our green space every day, I think the little car would do great here.
Like most major European automakers, Peugeot got their start making bicycles. Also like many other European automakers, Peugeot primarily produces 5 door vehicles (Europe sounds like a wonderful place doesn’t it?). Peugeot was founded way back in 1810, and has been progressing technological innovations ever since.
While the typical hot hatch is aimed at the sportier driver with little frills, the Peugeot 308 takes the vehicle in a different direction. The 308 offers an incredibly refined, elegant option to the 5 door hatchback market. For those looking for gorgeous European styling with the functionality of 5 doors, it would be hard to beat the 308.
One thing that is unique about Peugeot is that while many European car makers got their starts in bicycle, Peugeot continues that tradition today with road and mountain bikes. While that might not be important to average automotive enthusiast, knowing that a major automaker can go over 100 years without neglecting their roots speaks a lot for the strength of the brand.
The major German brands have no trouble making it across the ocean, but it seems the French don’t have that luxury. Rounding out this list are the offerings from Citroen. Founded in 1919, Citroen has the honor of being the first mass production car maker outside of America. The firsts don’t stop there, Citroen has also introduced controllable suspension and directional headlights to the world, advancements that are becoming more popular today.
One of the most sought after vehicles among collectors is the Citroen 2CV. While the car hasn’t been produced in over 25 years, it is held in high regard by collectors for being a historic car that is incredibly reliable and simple to run. It’s hard to go to any car show and not see a 2CV.
While Renault has the performance and Peugeot has the class, Citroen strikes a perfect balance with the DS5. Of all the cars I’ve listed here, including our North American offerings, I’d have a hard time choosing anything else over the DS5. This car is as gorgeous as it is capable, with large panoramic moon-roofs, heads up display, and a leather interior all powered by a 200hp 4 wheel drive diesel engine. If only we were allowed such luxury!
Our Own Back Yard
Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of vehicles here to get me excited. The upcoming Focus RS and Civic Type R look absolutely incredible. I can’t help but feel a little jealous when I see some of the amazing vehicles that Europe and other overseas countries get. It would be amazing to see some of these vehicles exist as a global brand, but for now that’s very likely just wishful thinking.
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