There are fewer European car brands in the US than in existence, but those that have made it here are among the very best car brands ever made. Brands like Mercedes, Alfa Romeo, and McLaren are all from Europe and have their own driving experiences to offer that differ from anything America or Japan can offer. European cars, especially high-end German cars, offer a kind of affordable luxury coupled with top of the line performance. While the European versions are rawer and less restricted than their US versions, what always makes it overseas is the feeling of driving something expensive and prestigious, even in cheaper cars like a Jetta or an A4. Unfortunately, European cars can’t match the reliability or longevity of Japanese cars, but for all their faults they make up for with style and performance.
Aston Martin cars aren’t cheap, they’re not even that fast compared to other European luxury cars, but they are cool. Take the Vantage V12 for instance. Aston Martin took their smallest car, and fit their biggest engine. Now is this the fastest car in the world? No, but Aston Martin had the guts to make its own muscle car. Not only does it have impressive internals, the V12 Vantage also sounds incredible, almost like an old fighter plane screaming across the sky.
If ever there was a car that screamed sports luxury to the max, it’s Jaguar’s XKR-S. It’s comfortable, accelerates quickly, has responsive steering and impressive braking. The car is big and heavy, which is to be expected from a Jaguar nowadays, but it preserves a sporty feel and is fun to drive. Truly the XKR-S is a great pleasure to toss around on a Sunday afternoon, or even leisurely drive out along the coast.
Possibly one of the coolest cars to ever see in person is the majestic Carrera GT. Sleek angles and scoops streamline the style of this car, so everything flows together uninterrupted. The Carrera GT is lightweight and powerful, and back when it first came out was the most powerful and expensive Porsche available. It weighed just over 3,000 pounds and had 600 horsepower out of a 5.7-liter V10. It had its own problems, specifically horrific engine problems, but for what it was the Carrera GT stole the hearts of many enthusiasts and because of its rarity is now a unicorn. Plus you can't beat that window showing the V10 lurking behind the driver’s seat.
From its inception, the BMW M5 is the ultimate choice when it comes to luxury, executive, and performance car concoctions. A great generation is 2006-2010, when the M5 came equipped with a powerful 5.0-liter V10 that helped deliver stellar performance. Coupled with BMW’s comfort and suspension setup, the M5 was (and is) a powerhouse that feels like it’s driving on clouds. What better way to drive your family comfortably through the mountains to get brunch, or even show up for a meeting?
Certainly not as good as an M3, the Mercedes 190e Cosworth was its own kind of awesome. It had an upgraded 2.3-liter inline-four engine fitted with dual overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder and was rated at 185 horsepower (167 in US trim). Otherwise, it had better suspension than its non-Cosworth engine equipped version, was equipped with a manual transmission, and had Mercedes’ ASD system, which maximized traction. However, it didn’t prevent slipping, and the transmission received a lot of criticism for being clunky. Regardless, this was an upgraded executive sedan from Mercedes with a manual transmission so, it’s definitely one of the coolest European cars.
European cars might not be as reliable as Japanese cars, or even American cars in some cases, but they do bring with them a degree of performance and style that just isn’t matched by any other manufacturer. In fact, European cars have their own unique style, case in point the Alfa Romeo 4C. One thing you can say about a lot of European manufacturers is, once they pick a goal for how they want their cars to be, it seems like very little compromises are made.
Avid Formula 1 fan and motorcyclist, I enjoy chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream and long rides to the beach.