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Euro market corners top vehicles

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Euro market corners top vehicles

Some of Detroit's most exciting models aren't offered to U.S. buyers

Paris -- The first lesson I learned at the Paris Motor Show was that everything tastes better with a little more butter.

Second, European carmakers have been holding out on us Americans, keeping some of their best vehicles on their side of the pond -- and giving us a bunch of leftovers.

Even our own carmakers have been sending some of their coolest cars and crossovers abroad, allowing Europeans to fly down the autobahn in fantastic five-doors but never giving us the same Interstate opportunity.

Oh, and I'm not including all of the diesel powertrains available in Europe but not in America. Or all those wagons Europeans drive with manual transmissions. Carmakers can give you myriad reasons why these and the Paris vehicles won't come to America. Some are cultural -- Americans don't like wagons, they'll say, or market studies show there's no interest in a particular model or style. Some European carmakers don't sell in the United States.

So the only way you're going to get to drive some of the cool vehicles on display at the Paris Motor Show is with a passport and an international driver's license. It doesn't seem fair.

Only in Europe

Take the Chevrolet Cruze hatchback, which debuted Thursday. It's up on a stand right now and its sloping roof and big wheels are inviting everyone to take pictures. Americans will never get to drive the Cruze hatchback in the States. Chevy has no plans to bring it to America.

GM isn't the only carmaker keeping its bold and beautiful vehicles overseas.

French carmaker Citroen has a number of sedans that would look just as beautiful in Peoria as in Paris. The Citroen DS4 is one of those classic-looking sedans with crisp lines and a compact stance. The little 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine provides 200 horsepower and the six-speed automatic transmission. It has paddle shifters (giving it that European feel) so it could easily be handled by stick-phobic Americans.

And, of course, the Germans are holding out too.

The Audi A1, which goes on sale early next year in Europe, will never make it the States. It should. It demonstrates that luxury and performance do not need to be tied to size. Bigger is not always better. Stamp its passport, approve the visa and let's get this car across the border.

This new immigration policy should also include the Peugeot RCZ on the approved list.

This little two-seater comes with a turbocharged diesel or gas engine and looks like it will fly. Two-seater hardtops may not make it into many American garages but more should. This would be the way to commute in style.

Typically, I wouldn't advocate a concept vehicle as something that should come from Europe to America, but the Opel Astra GTC Paris Concept is about as thinly veiled a concept vehicle as you're likely to see.

Opel won't confirm this car is going to get made, but I will come out and say Opel will build this. Most concepts don't come with factory-ready windshield wipers like this one.

Buckets of bolts

While these vehicles would do well in America, I don't think everything European is better. Europe has no pickups per se, and many popular vehicles in Europe are absolutely awful, abysmal buckets of bolts.

Please, leave them there.

Take the Ligier Microcar.

It does not matter how pretty a model stands in front of it, this car wouldn't even serve well as a bread box. The interior is cheap and the car looks like it's powered by squirrels. In fairness, I have never test-driven the Ligier Microcar, but, then again, I wouldn't want to.

And then there's the Renault Wind. This embarrassing vehicle uses a cloth strap as an interior door handle. It's just looped and stuck on the door. This little open-air two-seater -- one of the easiest designs to make look fun -- looks awful. I'm sure it's great for cruising the French countryside, and that's where it should stay.

Then there's the Lumenco SMERA, a one-seater that looks like a mobile coffin. Something this small would most likely end up on the side of the road after a few bicycles bumped it there.

Coming attractions

Carmakers, of course, have built some vehicles for Europe that will soon come to America.

The Ford Grand C-Max, in particular, will help build the mini-minivan segment begun by the Mazda5.

The Fiat 500 will arrive soon and so will the Chevy Spark, both European minicars that could do well in American cities.

And on the flip side, Jeep is bringing all of its wares to Europe, injecting a little bad behavior into our sometimes staid European friends.

But, the Jeeps, built in America, will include diesel engines, which, of course, we Americans will never get.

From The Detroit News: http://www.detnews.com/article/20101002/OPINION03/10020326/1148/auto01/Euro-market-corners-top-vehicles#ixzz11P1EyDiF

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