What with footballing fever gripping the nation this summer, along with the rest of Europe, it makes sense for us to try and decide which European country can consider itself the best maker of cars on the continent. Just like football’s battle for European supremacy, we’re putting nations head-to-head in a straight knock-out, staring off in the quarter finals and working all the way through to the final.
The first quarter-final, echoing one of tomorrow’s group games, pits the long-standing tradition of the English automobile against that of a former Soviet state. While their history of car production stood out as part of the former Soviet Union, which was capable of supplying almost half of its citizens’ cars, Ukraine’s key auto product was the combine harvester; their successful production of which meant that the Soviet Union no longer had to import them from abroad. Following the breakup of the Soviet states, however, manufacturers were unable to continue such productivity. While some Russian ventures closed down, others struggled to keep pace with the volume of foreign imports which were coming in at a more competitive price, and clocking up an overall better performance. Current hits include the “Car of the year of 2012 in Ukraine”, the ZAZ Forza; which is a rebadged Chery A13, originally made in China. Consumers agree that this was “The best moderate car” to be produced over the past year; something of an oxymoron in its poorly-translated mother tongue.
On the other hand, the English industry has pulled through some production setbacks within the harsh economic climate to consistently deliver some of the best-performing cars in the world. It’s still difficult to see beyond the Mini as a beautifully designed and affordably great performer, as well as the tough and versatile Land Rover and the supercars produced by Aston Martin. Even with our most objective views, we cannot possibly put the Ukrainian efforts ahead of the best of British – or even some of the worst of British! While the Soviet Union brought great swathes of cars into the troubled continent over the years, it’s now generally agreed that the cars were of relatively poor quality when compared to the solid reputation and build of the English models. England takes this first quarter-final pretty decisively.