Holy strudel and baguettes! It's the 2015 European Car of the Year Finalists!
It's that time of the year when we look to the future of motoring greatness. Current economic strife aside, Europe did give us the internal combustion engine and Western Civilization, so their opinion on what makes a great car is significant to us folks here on the other side of the Atlantic.
Or is it?
So what cars have made the final cut? (Click on the links for more info/pics of each car).
The BMW 2-Series Active Tourer
No relation to the awesome 2 Series coupe, this front-wheel-drive four door high hatch shares a platform with the latest Mini. From what I can tell, it's sort of a competitor to the Mercedes Benz B-Class. BMW keeps making more cars that seem to scream "Me too!" And if the segment doesn't already exist, they invent it.
Citroen C4 Cactus
Another family hatch, but this one carries a more economical badge than the aforementioned offering from Bavaria. Also, this one seems to be clad in riot gear and it's French. Finally, the name is derived from a prickly desert plant so I don't know if I would ever sit in one.
It's really the 2013 Ford Fusion (for once North America got the cooler version of this platform first!). So we all know it's pretty and an overall good mid-sized offering. Only in Europe it can be had with a diesel that has 295 lb-ft of torque from 2000-2500 RPM. We don't get that one here. Bummer.
The new C-Class is essentially filling in where the old E-Class used to sit, and the CLA is pulling C-Class duties as the entry level Benz sedan. The new E-Class is sort if sitting in a no-mans-land between where it used to be and the S-Class. It's like Mercedes created a new middle management position for a longtime employee who knows too many company secrets: they're unqualified for upper management, but if they don't get a promotion they'll blab to the competition. Now I have to pay $10,000 more for a decent C-Class because it's moving into the vacancy left by the old E-Class. This is why I hate politics.
Where I come from, a "u" follows every "q", so I'm immediately put off by this car. However, this relative of the North American Nissan Rogue is probably an excellent small family crossover. It has attractive styling, it's practical and it seems like fun to drive. All good qualities. Now if they could only do something about that name.
Finally, a European small car makes the list! Unlike North American small calls, European small cars are very small. This one is special though! The rear-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout makes it a pseudo spiritual successor of the original VW Beetle. And, unless you've been in one for three hours straight, when is that car never fun?!
No, not the same bloated and cheaply made North American Passat. This one is the real, German, deal. Essentially this car does everything our Passat does only with more class and refinement. Unfortunately, our market seems to prefer size and features over substance. In the battle of quality vs quantity, quantity seems to win every time. It's like trading a child 57 pennies for their 4 quarters. Sure they think they've hit the jackpot, but if they only knew...
Well those are the finalists. I'm not sure who's going to win this year, but if I had to guess (and this is just a 'Hail Mary', folks) it would be the Twingo. Mostly because it seems to be the most quintessentially European car on this list: it's quirky, peppy and can fit down narrow and bendy roads. Also, if you needed to have it moved out of a tight parking spot, a small Italian bodybuilder could lift it out for you.