No, not better than other people, just better than what there being offered at the moment.
What am I talking about? Cars of course!
Lets face it, the current US version of the Focus is based on the 1998 original model. The rest of the world got a totally new car in 2004, and that model has already been facelifted at least once. Its the same all around, the Saturn Aura is a Vauxhall/Opel Vectra with a modified rear end (and an American Car of the Year award despite the Vectra’s infamous lack of… ..well anything really in the EU.)
Ford are currently working towards rectifying this, the US Focus should soon be brought into line with the rest of the world, the Mondeo is on its way over there (Or not, they can’t seem to make there minds up about it) as is the Fiesta. GM may well bring the Chinese market Buick’s to America, and there the Vaxuhall/Opel Astra and Insignia in a more chrome blighted form. Chrysler is going to start building its small cars based on Fiat platforms, and Fiat will be bringing the 500 (And hopefully the Panda as well) to the US market.
Its a start, but there are plenty of other cars in the EU (And probably Japanese) markets that there is a clear and urgent need for. There is no better evidence for this than the fact that crap like the Chrysler Sebring, Dodge Avenger, Chrysler 300C, Chevrolet Malibu and the Chevrolet Cruze (anybody EVER seen one on the road by the way?) still sell.
To replace the Cruze, a family hatchback without a hatchback – lacklustre handling and emaciated petrol engines, might I recommend the Astra? It may platform share, but its a far more accomplished car than the Cruze. If your really worried about it GM, stick a Chevrolet badge on it to save face, its ok.
To replace the Sebring and its fellow Chrysler slush mobiles I’d recommend French saloons. A Citroen C5 or C6, or the current Renault Laguna, do the comfortable ride thing way better and also handle at the same time. There interiors are great, there styling is light-years ahead of the Sebring and there build quality is considerably better. Avoid Peugeots though, there rather crap at the moment.
What about other cars that would suit the market? An obvious choice is of course the current Skoda Superb, its twindoor boot is ideal for markets in which a saloon is still seen as a premium product over a hatchback. It gives you the premium look without the disadvantages of lacking a proper rear hatch. Its also a vastly better drive than any equivalent car currently on the US market, has a dull but superbly made interior and most importantly – its a Skoda. That means its just about bullet proof on reliability and quality without being too expensive.
Of course even that will not satisfy some, and they will want a proper saloon with all the disadvantages that entails – how about a SEAT Exeo? Under its Spanish skin its a previous generation Audi A4 with a more comfortable suspension and tyre setup. Its comparatively cheep and comes both as a saloon and as an estate for those who want more space.
How about some stylish hatchbacks? cars like the Citroen C2, C3 and C4 (particularly in Coupe 3 door hatch form), Skoda Fabia and Octavia, SEAT Ibiza, Renault Clio and Megan are obviously worth investigating on the US market.
With the collapse of the faux-4x4 market there a re bound to be those looking for more practical ways of lugging lots of people around. There’s a large number of cars build for that very purpose around the world, and indeed Chryslers latest offering in this market is supposed to be rather good actually. However why not try some of the more entertaining offerings from the French manufactures? The Renault Espace created the model for all modern people carriers and is still about the best out there. The Citroen C3 and C4 Picasso are both good cars, and I’d mention the Berlingo to those who need only shift 5 people but need van sized luggage space. The Fiat Multipla is getting on in years and is rather anonymous after its emergency restyle (google to see the original late 1990’s model) but it offers 6 seats in the same rough footprint as a normal family hatchback. In the EU its wide body can be a pain, a problem that should be far less noticeable on wider US roads.
Other cars that should make it across include the entire Alfa Romeo range, excluding the Mito and the new 149 due to there fugly style. The 159 may be due for replacement any time soon, but it is by far the best looking saloon made by any company in recent years. It may lack the shear driving involvement of an equivalent Beamer 3 series, but its fantastic looks and interior is one of the best on the road even today (Also the fact its not bought exclusively by Yuppy wannabies is a major plus.)
Of course, all this is dreaming – the US market is not really growing enough to support these brands entering it just yet. But who knows, maybe after trying out the new models the big three are bringing in from there European operations, US buyers will start to demand more from there cars than before?
And maybe France will renounce the republic, the Pope convert to pastafarianism and the batshit bannanas will be beaten out of Tom Cruise and other scientologist nutballs?
Oh wait, I promised you furry porn didn't I? Erm, bah I’ll have to leave you hanging for now.