About Me

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Toronto, Ontario, Canada
My passion is also my business, as I am with the Toronto based Hav-A-Kar Auto Group. I sell or lease any make of car, van or truck available in Canada. My interest in all things "car" has helped me with my many clients in Ontario over the past 20+ years. Please give me the opportunity to assist you.

Friday, August 28, 2015

August 28: From France with love, part 1

I love our trips to Europe. There are the expected things that all tourists enjoy, but being a real car guy, there is always something interesting on the road. I try to keep some sort of idea of what is being sold in other markets, but in Europe there are so many brands and models that, we never see, keeping up is darn near impossible. Over the next couple of weeks, I'll share some of the cars that caught my eye.

The first, may well be the worst. I saw these little electric cars in the major centres, but Paris seemed to have the most. Although it is sold to private buyers, all the ones I saw were owned by the Autolib car sharing company. The Bollore Electric is designed by Pininfarina and for some reason are finished in unpainted stainless steel. Now "stainless" is a relative term, as every single one that I saw was stained, dented and filthy, as well as seeming to have different shades of stainless, as my pic below shows.........

Gee, maybe that is the point of the whole thing, never having to wash it. Pray for rain and lots of it!

This is the European Honda Civic, which has been around for a few years and I've pondered before, why the heck Honda doesn't bring this great looking car to our shores........

Well, folks, the good news is they might. This is the Type R version, which has a cool 310 HP in Europe. Now in a small car like this, watch out VW Golf R (what is with all these R's?). Question is, will Honda bring over their R in this body style or modify the current Civic coupe? We should know shortly as it is scheduled to sell here in early 2016.

Saw an article the other day that, Ford is seriously considering bringing their other market mid-size Ranger pick-up to North America. Remember, we used to have a Ranger made for the good ol' USA, but as full sized pick-up truck sales soared, the little guys fell by the wayside, that is until GM re-introduced them for 2015. Sales are good, so Ford is rethinking their position. I took this pic in Lyon. Saw a few of them and they looked great. Much better than our boxy old Ranger.

I know the story, have heard it many times, the Smart car is just a little too big for your needs, so you wish that someone would make something just a tiny bit smaller. Well, folks, your wish has been granted, at least if you live in Europe. Behold, the Aixam.........

Possibly a touch more stylish that the Smart car parked behind it (not a difficult accomplishment), but more importantly it is smaller. Hard to see in this pic, but you can take my word for it. Aixam is a French company and they have a variety of really little cars, that are good looking in a little car kind of way. 

On the subject of small, have you always liked the Mini, but like your friends, who find the Smart car too large, so is the Mini in your eyes?

Once again, look to our French friends to solve your problem, with the Chatenet line of little vehicles, including a sports coupe (hard to believe). They've done a sort of Mini copy (squint and maybe you can see what I see). And sorry for the poor quality of this pic, but many of my shots were taken on the fly.

The newest hot sellers over here are the small commercial vans that, have been lifted from the foreign markets, where big cargo vans are, well, just too big. Mercedes sells a big one here and they are adding a smaller one, but if the trend continues, watch for them to add an even smaller one to their line. This new Citan that, I saw in Paris, is similar to our popular Nissan NV200, so it would fit the bill over here quite nicely.

And finally for today, what did I rent in Provence for our tour around the countryside? Well sure, I'd like a hot and sexy ride, but have you priced a rental in Europe lately? I didn't think so, as this humble car set us back just over $800 Canadian for a mere five day rental.........

This is a Renault Megane. I wanted a hatch and also something that this long legged, 6'5'' car guy could drive relatively comfortably. Had to be an automatic, since although I can drive a manual, my long legs make it a difficult proposition in a Civic sized car. Actually, the Megane was a good choice. Tight steering, competent handling and lots of pep from its diesel engine. Not near as roomy as my ATS, but it sure fit the bill in France. And it didn't look too bad, in a small hatchback kind of way.

So that brings us to the end of part one. I think with all the pics I have that, there should be a couple more blogs coming your way about what I saw. I'll try not to bore you, so please be patient with me.

Until next time.......


  1. That Ranger and that Aixam are two vehicles that really caught my eye. I would like to see the Ranger here again but cost of production was very close to the full-sized units. Consequently the cost was up there too. So buyers simply decided to opt for the full-sized and pay that extra bit for fuel. The other stuff can stay there, as far as I'm concerned. That Civic R version is something that would be scary here. In my opinion, just keep cranking out what's already here and leave the R for the Autobahn.

    1. George, your small pick-up comments are quite accurate, but I can almost guarantee you that the Ranger will show up here, at about $5000 less than the F-150.

    2. Hi Barry. That's all well and good. But when you're looking at a $50K price tag, vs a $45K price, and consider the financing, I still think that sales will be a hard sell. I talked to a salesman at a GM dealership and he told me that there are similar things happening at GM.