Every time I visit Europe, I see great cars I wish would come to America, and my most recent trip was no different. Here are four great European cars not available in the USA, including small, green, energy efficient models already on sale and brand new models just coming to market.
Renault Twizy – I love this one-seater all-electric – pictured above. It’s small enough to park sideways, like a motorcycle, and large enough to carry the day’s shopping. Twizy is also popular for local deliveries by restaurants, although not large enough to deliver appliances. Plus, it’s modern design is a head-turner, especially when the “falcon” doors are up, in the open position. There are rumors Renault may export Twizy to North America through its corporate sibling Nissan, as a second EV model to join the popular Nissan Leaf. But that’s just a rumor.
- Twizy would compete with the Smartfortwo EVfrom Mercedes-Benz, and the EV Mini-e.
Opel Astra Sportwagen – The newest member of Opel’s best-selling Astra family is a family-friendly wagon is a first for the brand. The model is important enough that GM chief Mary Barra introduced it at the Frankfurt Auto Show last fall. She boasted that Opel is the number three best-selling brand in Europe, although she did not say that sales have been boosted by the departure of corporate sibling Chevrolet from Europe. Barra also said Opel would be introducing 29 new or refreshed vehicles in the next year, including an EV and a second flagship next to the Insignia. That’s more newmodels than Chevy is introducing in the US.
- The Astra Sportwagen, with all the features of the 11th generation best-selling Astra sedan, would compete favorably against the VW Jetta sportwagen in the US.
Renault Talisman – Available as both a mid-size sedan and sportwagen, the 2017 Renault Talisman is destined for the North African and Asian markets first, then Europe. Renault is launching it with a 148hp and a 197hp turbocharged gas engine and three low-emission diesels.
- Talisman would compete favorably on these shores against the VW Passat and Mazda 6.
Audi 1 – It’s no wonder this subcompact looks like the VW Polo, since Audi is a VW brand and the two models share more than a few parts. Audi’s version is more upscale, though, with fancier interior features and more sporty handling, especially in the sporty S version. Even so, its mini pricetag does not fit with Audi’s luxury branding in North America, so you are unlikely to see it here.
- A1 would compete handsomely with the Ford Fiesta.
There’s also a brilliant thing I see downtown in nearly every large European city I visit, that is just beginning to be introduced to the USA.
It is digital signs near traffic lights indicating how many empty parking spaces are available in the nearest public garages. The parking alerts are a time-saver, gas-saver, gridlock-saver, helping avoid stress and pollution by directing you to the nearest open space.
Yes, some shopping malls are installing such systems. I’m ready to see them everywhere.