The 2018 World Cup is fast approaching, and bets are being placed on the top contenders. With all eyes on the top five countries that are favored to win, we turn our spotlight on the cars most likely to be driven in those countries — in the order their national teams are favored to win!
1. GERMANY: VW Golf
By far the favorite to win the World Cup, Germany has established a firm record, often placing in the top three final teams, and most recently taking the Cup itself in 2014. As defending champions, Germany is expected to play strong to retain the title. In Germany, native but world-renowned car companies vie for the spot of best-selling car. Volkswagen, BMW, Mercedes, Audi and others do face some stiff competition from foreign auto manufacturers, such as Ford, Renault and Hyundai. But native car company VW wins out against the others in an environment that now sees Germany as the European country with the most electric cars on the road. The top-selling car in Germany is the VW Golf (there’s also the electric variant of the car). This small, family-friendly car with a low footprint makes sense for a European country that prides itself on environmental concern and has a penchant for luxury. The Golf features a lightweight turbo engine, blind-spot monitoring, park assist, adjustable seating to increase cargo space, and an Intelligent Crash Response System. This system turns off the fuel pump, unlocks the doors, and turns on hazard lights in the event of a crash. The Golf’s touchscreen also allows you to sync selected apps, so the car becomes an extension of your phone.
2. BRAZIL: Chevrolet Onix
Having won the World Cup a record five times — but placing fourth while hosting 2014’s World Cup — Brazil is expected to come back with a vengeance. Brazil is famous for the fancy footwork of its soccer teams, which makes them a firm challenger to top-ranked Germany. The Brazilian auto market is dominated by foreign brands, which currently outpace rising native car companies (such as Troller, Agrale, and Marcopolo S.A.). Chevrolet, Hyundai, Ford and others contend for dominance among Brazilian drivers. Just as Brazil continues to come into its own internationally (hosting the 2014 World Cup was an impressive and well-regarded step), Brazilians are leaning toward international car brands that are manufacturing their cars locally. Brazil’s top-selling car, the Chevrolet Onix, is the great example of this blend of global and local. Not only is the Onix produced in Brazil, it was also created and tailored specifically for the local market. The subcompact Onix is described as a “car with personality” designed “for today,” in line with Brazil’s vibrant, contemporary culture. The Onix features audio and phone control in the steering wheel, a park-assist sensor, and a seven-inch touchscreen that syncs with smartphones. These features, plus the relatively low cost (about $13,000 USD), are crucial for success in a country recovering from a deep recession.
3. FRANCE: Renault Clio
France won the World Cup when it hosted the tournament in 1998. This time around, the French team is considered to be exceptionally talented — with a diverse array of youthful but experienced players. They stand a good chance at advancing out of the group stage against weaker opponents, putting them in the odds for taking the Cup. In France, French companies Renault Group and PSA Group constantly battle for the top spot in car sales, while foreign car sales are much, much smaller in comparison. French-made cars frequently win awards such as European Car of the Year and World Car of the Year (both of which have been won by French cars numerous times). Indeed, the French have good reason to love and be proud of their native car companies. The top-selling car in France is the Renault Clio. Described as sensual, sleek and seductive, the Clio is luxury in small form — perfect for navigating those narrow historic streets. The Clio features ergonomic seats, Bose speakers, automatic wipers and lights, and smartphone syncing. Impressively, the Clio’s features also include hands-free parking, in which the car itself handles the actual parking. This feature is no doubt useful when it comes to snagging a tight spot on the streets of Paris!
4. SPAIN: SEAT Ibiza
With 14 appearances in 20 World Cups — including one win in 2010 — and two wins in the 2008 and 2012 European Championships, Spain is clearly marked as a favorite in 2018. Many have noted that Spain will rely on older, tried-and-true players to carry them to victory this summer. Spain relies on its native car companies, including SEAT, to put Spanish-made cars to the top of their domestic charts. SEAT, in operation since 1950, is the only Spanish car company currently mass-producing cars — and it’s handily beating its international competition. With SEAT dominating car production in Spain, it’s no surprise that its two most popular models — the Ibiza and the Leon — contend for the top spot. In this competition, the smaller Ibiza wins out. Despite its affordable price (around $21,000 USD), the Ibiza comes with keyless ignition, a rear view camera and sensor, and Tiredness Recognition — a system that alerts drivers when it’s time to take a break. The Ibiza also features wireless charging for phones and the Hill Hold Control brake system that prevents backwards drift when stopping on Spain’s often hilly streets.
5. ARGENTINA: Chevrolet Prisma
Argentina has won the World Cup twice — and made it the final in 2014 — so it’s earned its spot in the top five favored teams. Led by star player Lionel Messi, Argentina is determined to make up for a string of recent setbacks in other games and tournaments. Argentina’s auto industry is also getting stronger, and it’s led by foreign companies that produce a number of models locally. In the competition for the top-selling car, Chevrolet has recently edged out Volkswagen and Renault for the first time with the Prisma. The Chevrolet Prisma is the first and only sedan on our list. Though it is a compact sedan, the Prisma boasts good interior space. The car also has several important safety features, including child locks on the rear doors, anti-lock brakes, and engine immobilizer to help prevent theft. The Prisma combines new and proven features for new customers in an emerging auto market.
THE POST-GAME REVIEW
So what can we take away from the World Cup of Cars? European-influenced, affordable, smaller cars are the clear winners. This is true even among most cars produced by North American companies (such as the Chevy Onix). American companies are, as always, producing internationally-loved and trusted cars, which are often adapted to — and manufactured in — the countries in which they’re sold. For countries with their own domestic car companies, there’s great pride in supporting the national team, leading companies like Renault, VW and SEAT to take first place in their home games.