European carmakers push sporty models as US demands more sleek foreign imports
The demand from affluent Americans for European cars priced well into five figures seems so strong that most entrants are enlarging their programs.
Here's a rundown: Britain
Having dumped the MG and Triumph sports cars and the Rover sedan from the import lineup, Jaguar Rover Triumph is setting a new US record for the classy Jaguar alone. JRT president Graham Whitehead is looking for 9,000 ''Jag'' sales this year and 11,000 in 1983.
Late-starter De Lorean, struggling at this writing to avert bankruptcy shutdown, sold 1,910 cars to Americans in the first seven months of 1982, but still has more than 6,000 in inventory. France
The snazzy Fuego coupe with a turbo option joined the Renault group imported by AMC in April, and helped lift Renault to its highest US sales in 20 years. A diesel edition is planned for Renault's 18i sedan and station wagon. Le Car will hang on as a price-leader economy model.
Peugeot set a US sales record in 1981, sparked by its restyled 505 with a turbo-diesel engine, then added a turbo-diesel model for its top-of-the-line 604 .
The French carmaker will bring its turbo-diesel wagon to the US in '83. Italy
Fiat decided to stress its sporty coupes, the X 1/9 and Spider 2000 - with a turbocharged engine introduced for the Spider.
Alfa Romeo, the state-owned automaker, dropped its sedan and introduced a GTV-6 roadster to join the Spider Veloce. Sweden
Volvo nailed down new monthly 1982 records to top its 1981 peak in the United States. A solid sixth in US import sales, Volvo this fall will introduce a line-topping 760 GLE sedan priced above $20,000.
Saab reached record turf with a new APC turbo-engine system that allows any grade of premium lead-free fuel to be used without power sacrifice. West Germany
Mercedes-Benz not only broke its sales record in the US last year, but the premier maker of luxury cars also eclipsed its price record with a new $50,000 380SEC coupe. It confirmed plans to trim the size of its 240D price leader, now priced from $21,000, coming out with a restyled 1984 model called the 190E.
BMW was heading for its first 50,000-sales year in the US, having reissued its 528i 4-door sedan this year and set the stage for introduction of a new 320i and a turbo-diesel engine in late 1983.
A redesigned and aerodynamic 5000 sedan was on its way for debut this fall by Audi, which Volkswagen markets in the US. The Porsche half of the VW adjunct was gearing up to revive its 928 cabriolet convertible with the exclusive rear engine of the 928.