2022 World Cup of Cars
The 2022 Fifa World Cup in Qatar sets a number of precedents. For starters, geographically it’s the first in the Middle East and the first World Cup to be held in the Northern Hemisphere during winter.
With the competition kicking off this week, we’ve caught a little football fever at Leasing.com. You might think that football has very little to do with cars, except for the flash vehicles footballers splash their cash on.
But let’s forget about the overpaid superstars and their Bentley Bentayga or Mercedes-Benz G-Class. We’re interested in what the people drive. What are the most popular models in the countries that have qualified?
Kicking off with the host nation, Qatar is situated on the Persian Gulf within the Arabian Peninsula. That means hot climes (hence the November kick off) and also rugged terrain. It’s little surprise then that the most popular car in Qatar isn’t really a car, more an all-conquering off road beast – it’s the Toyota Land Cruiser.
Ecuador has played in three World Cups to date, with Qatar marking the country’s fourth appearance in the tournament, and it’s only made it out the group state once before. When it comes to cars, Ecuadorians like to keep things simple. The most popular model is the basic Chevrolet Spark – although in reality it’s not a Chevrolet at all. It’s based on an old Korean platform from the Daewoo brand. Remember them?
You might not have heard of the most popular car in Senegal. It’s a weird market-specific car with a Citroen badge. This is the Citroen C-Elysee and it looks… interesting.
The last time the Netherlands reached a World Cup final, the UK was in the midst of the winter of discontent and ABBA was on the airwaves. Car-wise, they’re big fans of their neighbours’ vehicles, and the most popular model in Dutch territory is the humble Volkswagen Polo.
The Ford Fiesta topped the UK sales charts from 2009 up until 2019, but things have been changing recently. The Vauxhall Corsa has consistently topped the charts – until the most recent month of 2022 when the humble Nissan Qashqai took the top spot. It’s made in the UK though. Very patriotic.
The Saipa Pride is the most popular car in Iran, England’s first opponents. Hopefully their skills on the pitch will give them something to be more proud of than this automotive atrocity. We doubt it though.
The USA (or the United States men’s national soccer team as they are officially known) have participated in 10 World Cups to date, being present in every tournament since 1990. For a lot of that time, the ubiquitous Ford F150 pick-up truck has been the most popular vehicle State-side.
While Wales is part of the UK, for the last few years the SMMT has handily provided data for each member nation regarding the most popular choice of car. The Nissan Qashqai still reigns supreme across the border.
Ok, ok, it’s actually the ubiquitous Volkswagen Golf that’s Argentina’s most popular car, but feast your eyes upon the Argentina-only market Sandero RS. Nice as it is, however, having qualified for every World Cup since 1974 and twice been crowned champions, with Messi at the centre of everything, they’re probably better at football than they are at hot hatches.
Despite being known for its flash gold cars, the relatively modest Toyota Camry is the most popular vehicle over there. One might be driven by a woman soon too, with the kingdom's driving ban on female drivers ending on 24 June … the day before their World Cup game against Egypt.
Despite a ban in 1990, Mexico have been a permanent fixture in the World Cup since. Back in the team’s homeland, the rugged Chevrolet Silverado is a long-standing fixture too. It’s certainly no ‘Little Pea’ like former Man United man Chicharito.
Despite its long-standing connection with the Fiat brand, it’s now Volkswagen Group that rules the roost in Poland too. Not the Octavia this time, but the smaller Fabia.
The French are a patriotic bunch when it comes to cars, with Peugeot and Renault having a relatively equal share of the market. Even when you add Peugeot’s Citroen and DS companies into the equation, however, it’s the Renault Clio that sits at the top of the sales league.
They might be more well-known for cricket, but this is the fifth World Cup Australia have qualified for. Their vehicle of choice? The Toyota Hilux, of course. With most of the country made up of dust, dirt and sand rather than a well-kept turf, we can understand why.
France 1998 was the last time Denmark managed to secure a place in the quarter-finals and, while the French themselves might prefer the Clio, it’s Peugeot’s 208 that’s Denmark’s most popular vehicle.
Similarly, pick-ups are hugely popular in Tunisia too, but it’s not the Hilux, rather the Isuzu D-Max. The team showed against England in their opener that they don’t mind being dirty, so maybe that’s why their fans favour this double cab too.
Spain’s home-grown supermini the Seat Ibiza has picked up a few accolades of its own over the last year or two, much like the national team (World Cup champions in 2010).
Remember the Hyundai Accent? Probably not, as it’s not been available in the UK for some years. It’s still going strong in some markets though, notably in Costa Rica. We think some players from Costa Rica might even drive one, maybe.
Crowned champions at the last World Cup, one of the few things that’s a bigger powerhouse than their national team is Germany’s motor industry, so it should come as little surprise to see the Golf is their favourite car.
No surprises here. Japan’s favourite car is a Toyota, but which one? Well it’s actually the fuel-sipping Prius hybrid.
Expectations are a bit lower for Belgium this time around, despite Man City’s De Bruyne pulling the strings. But there’s no doubting Belgium’s loyalty to German car brands. Yep, it’s the Volkswagen Golf. Again.
Canada has ended its 36-year wait to partake in the World Cup, with its only previous participation being way back in 1986. It’s not a country known to have a prolific history in the football world. It does, however, have a prolific history of driving Ford F150 pick-up trucks. Just like its US neighbour, it’s been the most popular car there for years.
Coming out on top in the African group was Morocco and, although it might be cheap and cheerful, the nation’s most popular car probably didn’t fare so well. Say hello to the Dacia Logan.
Croatia clearly follows its Czech neighbour’s lead when it comes to cars, with the Skoda Octavia proving the biggest hit. Football-wise, it’s 20 years since they managed to secure third place in the World Cup.
There’s always going to be some overlaps on this list, but for those with short memories this is the anonymous (but probably perfectly acceptable) Chevrolet Onix. It lacks the flair and samba of the Selecao, who have lifted the most famous trophy in football on five different occasions. Neymar, the world’s most expensive footballer, definitely doesn't drive an Onix.
The Skoda Octavia is officially the most popular car in Serbia for 2022. Making up part of Yugoslavia from 1930 to 1990, Serbia has only actually played in the World Cup as an independent country since 2006.
The Swiss are a sensible bunch, so it’s no surprise to see the country’s most popular car is the very sensible Skoda Octavia. Although not flash, the Octavia is very underrated and extremely adept, much like the team, which is actually ranked 6th in the world.
Did you know Cameroon have made it through to the finals eight times? The closest they’ve come to raising the trophy was in 1990, before being between in the quarter-finals 3-2 by England. When it comes to cars, the Kia Rio is the car of choice.
It’s the fifth consecutive World Cup that Portugal has qualified for, and it also happens to be the fifth consecutive year that Renault’s Clio has been crowned the country’s most popular car. It’s almost as consistent as star man Cristiano.
Qatar is the fourth consecutive World Cup Ghana has qualified for, with their best effort being in 2010 when they made if through to the quarter-finals. Car-wise, the ubiquitous Toyota Corolla reigns supreme.
Recognise this car? Not surprising if you don’t – it’s the Chevrolet Onix, Uruguay’s ride of choice. We doubt that Luis Suarez has ever bitten anyone’s hand off to get one of these.
South Korea’s been in the news a lot of late, and not just because it’s in the World Cup. As for cars, it’s the Hyundai Grandeur that consistently tops the sales leagues.
So who’s taking the 2022 Trophy home?
It’s Skoda! Well, technically at least. With four out of the 32 participating countries choosing the Czech brand as their marque of choice, this year they’ve got the Germans beat. (Although it’s technically a Volkswagen under the skin).
Shame really, considering the Czech Republic didn’t qualify this year.