The Motoring Olympics
The Car Expert assumes you know that there’s a great big sporting circus coming to town this summer. But if the countries were represented by their car manufacturers instead of their athletes, how would they rate?
We’re not talking about how well a Toyota LandCruiser would go in the High Jump or how a Volkswagen Beetle would perform in the diving pool, but how do the different countries compare in terms of their cars they produce? Well, The Car Expert has decided to find out.
Team: Ford, Holden, HSV, Toyota
Flag Bearer: Holden Commodore V8 (as iconic as Aussie cars get)
Medal favourite: HSV ClubSport (heavyweight burnout division)
Dark horse: Ford Territory (heavy but has showed good form)
Likely to disappoint: Toyota Camry (descended from Japanese parents, but no better than midfield in any event)
Match up to watch: Holden Calais V vs. Cadillac CTS-V
The Car Expert’s overall rating: A small team, but punches well above its weight. Very parochial supporters, but hard to see them toppling the Germans. May give the Yanks a good thumping, though.
Team: Geely, Great Wall, MG, Youngman, maybe Lotus?
Flag Bearer: MG (high-profile defection from the UK, don’t tell them that MG is actually rubbish)
Medal favourite: Not yet, but plenty of potential for future Olympics
Dark horse: See above. Best chance is to compete on price.
Likely to disappoint: All of them, especially if competing against the Germans
Match-up to watch: Youngman vs. Genii Capital (the battle for Lotus)
The Car Expert’s overall rating: The Chinese team has some moderate talent, but is laying down some solid foundations for the future. Look at how far the Koreans have progressed over the last few Olympics, and you will see where China is going to go. Upwards.
Flag Bearer: Škoda Yeti
Medal favourite: Škoda Yeti (family car-crossover event)
Dark horse: Škoda Superb (large family car category)
Likely to disappoint: Škoda Roomster (looks even weirder than the Mini Countryman)
Match-up to watch: Škoda Superb vs. Volkswagen Passat (future minicab race)
The Car Expert’s overall rating: A very small team, with only Škoda represented once again. Always performs well in the customer satisfaction event, and the Yeti is a hot favourite in the alternative family car competition.
Team: Citroën, Bugatti, Peugeot, Renault
Flag Bearer: Bugatti Veyron
Medal Chances: Bugatti Veyron (any sprint race over any distance)
Dark horse: Peugeot 208 (yet to be tested but looks like a return to form for Peugeot)
Likely to disappoint: Citroen C6 (3-year residual race)
Match-up to watch: Renault Clio vs. Volkswagen Polo (quality small hatch contest)
The Car Expert’s overall rating: Some stylish contenders and hints of real talent, but overall a bit flaky. Midfield in most categories, with the notable exception of the mighty Bugatti Veyron, which should continue its dominance from the last Olympics. French gold but paid for by the Germans.
Team: Audi, BMW, Ford, Mercedes, Opel, Porsche, smart, Volkswagen
Flag Bearer: Porsche 911
Medal favourite: Too many to choose from. More talent than you can poke a javelin at
Dark horse: Audi TT (been around a while, but still has what it takes)
Likely to disappoint: Opel (under pressure at home, struggling to compete internationally)
Match-up to watch: BMW M5 vs. Jaguar XFR (super-saloon shoot-out)
The Car Expert’s overall rating: An absolute powerhouse, clear favourite to top the medal tables with strong performers in practically every niche and very few weaknesses.
Team: Aston Martin, Bentley, Jaguar, Land Rover, Lotus, McLaren, Mini, Morgan, Nissan, Rolls-Royce, Vauxhall
Flag Bearer: Rolls-Royce Phantom
Medal favourite: Range Rover (cross-country champion)
Dark horse: Jaguar XFR (very talented, often overlooked compared to the BMW M5, Mercedes E-class AMG and Audi S6 trio)
Likely to disappoint: Mini Countryman (what event is this car even in?)
Match-up to watch: McLaren MP4-12C vs. Ferrari 458 Italia
The Car Expert’s overall rating: Home ground advantage will be necessary to battle the German onslaught. Some genuine talent but lacking in depth. Lotus’ participation has been the subject of much debate lately, but should put in an appearance of some sort.
Flag bearer: Tata Nano
Medal favourite: Nope
Dark horse: Er, Tata Nano?
Likely to disappoint: Quite possibly, the Tata Nano
Match-up to watch: Tata Nano vs. Nissan Pixo (cheap small car stoush)
The Car Expert’s overall rating: Despite owning Jaguar and Land Rover, the Indian team is really only represented by Tata, and the only car worthy of mention is the admirable Tata Nano – proudly developed as the cheapest car in the world. Based on price, it’s great. Based on absolute performance, it’s… cheap.
Team: Abarth, Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, Fiat, Lamborghini, Lancia, Maserati, Pagani
Flag Bearer: Ferrari F12 Berlinetta
Medal favourite: Ferrari 458 Italia
Dark horse: Alfa Romeo Giulietta
Likely to disappoint: Lancia Delta (looks good on paper, unable to turn it into performance on the road)
Match-up to watch: Fiat Panda vs. Volkswagen up! (supermini face-off)
The Car Expert’s overall rating: Very good in sprint events, not so reliable in a marathon? An unmatched pedigree in the supercar competitions, but has struggled in many of the lesser-known events or endurance tests.
Team: Honda, Infiniti, Lexus, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru, Suzuki, Toyota
Flag Bearer: Mazda MX-5 (deservedly the most successful roadster in history)
Medal favourite: Nissan GT-R (technical wizard despite uninspiring appearances)
Dark horse: Toyota GT-86 & Subaru BRX (tag-team coupé combination out to challenge the affordable sports car competition)
Likely to disappoint: Anything by Mitsubishi (generally uncompetitive in most categories, apart from the outstanding Lancer Evo X)
Match-up to watch: Toyota Land Cruiser vs. Land Rover Discovery (heavyweight wrestling gold medal battle)
The Car Expert’s overall rating: Technically outstanding but lacking pure grunt. One of the largest teams in the world though, so big enough to pick up plenty of good results in many different events.
Team: Hyundai, Kia, SsangYong
Flag Bearer: Kia Sportage
Medal favourite: Hyundai iX35 soft-roader crossover thing
Dark horse: Kia Picanto (cheap, but cheerful)
Likely to disappoint: SsangYong Rodius (truly, truly awful)
Match-up to watch: Kia Soul vs. Citroën C3 Picasso (funky, boxy, quirky family cars)
The Car Expert’s overall rating: Have made significant progress since the last Olympics, and will put in a number of strong performances in finals and semi-finals. Not likely to challenge for too many medals yet, but watch out by the time the next Olympics rolls around.
Team: Proton, Lotus (sort of)
Flag bearer: Maybe a Lotus Exige, if they still own Lotus by the time the Opening Ceremony starts
Medal favourite: Depends on the Lotus saga (the Elise has been the gold medal ultra-lightweight sports car for the last four Olympics)
Dark horse: Depends on the Lotus saga (the Evora is talented but flawed, but worth a shot)
Likely to disappoint: Anything with a Proton badge.
Match-up to watch: Lotus vs. the new owners’ bean-counters
The Car Expert’s overall rating: Nothing to get too excited about here. Lotus could be fronting up for any one of three teams, so any medal chances rest on Proton’s new owners keeping the Norfolk operation on the books.
Flag bearer: Dacia Logan (flying the flag since 2004)
Medal favourite: No such luck
Dark horse: Doubt it, unless horse #3 in the 7th at Sandown happens to be called ‘Dacia’…
Likely to disappoint: None, really, if you look at the price tag.
Match-up to watch: Dacia Sandero vs. a large lorry (mainly to watch the Sandero being destroyed)
The Car Expert’s overall rating: Still new to this whole caper, Dacia are working hard under their Renault owners to develop a credible range. They’re certainly getting there, but we won’t be hearing the Romanian national anthem for a while yet.
Flag bearer: Lada Niva
Medal favourite: No chance
Dark horse: Not really
Likely to disappoint: Any of them that make it to the start line
Match-up to watch: Lada Samara vs. a gentle hill
The Car Expert’s overall rating: Still stuck in the Cold War, modern car development seems to have passed Russia by. The Lada Niva will be competing in its 9th Olympics, but unlike other great names of the Games, this one is basically still the same car as it was in 1977.
Flag bearer: Seat Leon
Medal favourite: None, really
Dark horse: Seat Mii (cousin of the German team’s Volkswagen up!)
Likely to disappoint: Seat Ibiza (past its best, needs to be replaced)
Match-up to watch: Seat Mii vs. Škoda Citygo vs. Volkswagen up! (identical triplets competing for three different countries?)
The Car Expert’s overall rating: Once again, Seat is flying the flag for Spain, and there are not many genuine winners among the team. The little Mii is a good car, and it will be a toss-up when it faces off against the Volkswagen up! and Škoda Citygo, since they are all closely related and are all very similar.
Flag Bearer: Volvo S60
Medal favourite: Volvo S60 (strong performer, chances depend on the customer’s conditions)
Dark horse: Volvo V40 (looks promising on paper, yet to meet the competition on the field though)
Likely to disappoint: Volvo XC90 (should have retired while it was still on top)
Match-up to watch: Volvo XC60 vs. BMW X3 vs. Audi Q5 vs. Land Rover Freelander
The Car Expert’s overall rating: The team has suffered this year from the late withdrawal of Saab, although to be fair Saab was mostly making up numbers rather than providing genuine results anyway. Some good performers but all up against very tough competition. New uniforms looking good – having ditched the sensible shoes and brown slacks, they’ve adopted a much more stylish look for this Olympics.
Team: Acura, Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Dodge, Fisker, Ford, GMC, Jeep, Lincoln, RAM, Scion, Toyota, Volkswagen
Flag Bearer: Chevrolet Corvette (been around since 1953, this will be its 15th Olympics)
Medal favourite: Dodge SRT Viper (Heavyweight champion, although yet to meet the competition in battle)
Dark horse: Fisker Karma (an electric performer, always on a charge)
Likely to disappoint: Everything else
Match-up to watch: Chevrolet Volt vs. Toyota Prius plug-in (range-extender electric showdown)
The Car Expert’s overall rating: A big line-up, but not a lot of new talent in the American team, which is still recovering from the Great Financial Crisis of 2008 and thirty years of building rubbish before that…
and The Car Expert Motoring Olympics champion is Germany! OK, so it wasn’t a big surprise…
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