In some ways, this week’s edition of Meh Car Monday is going to be even trickier to write, because it’s not just about one meh car, it’s about a whole meh car brand. The brand is staggeringly meh for a number of reasons: first, it was Canada-only, second, it didn’t even have any cars unique to it, third, it only lasted two years, and nobody still cares enough for a fourth reason. It’s a brand that never really had any reason to exist, and now that it doesn’t exist, it’s basically like it never existed. The only thing of interest the brand actually had was an umlaut, which you can see here: Asüna.
Asüna was started in 1992 by GM as a Canadian counterpart to the American market brand Geo, which sold U.S.-built Toyotas and Japanese Suzukis and Isuzus under the Geo badge. What’s really baffling is just why everyone thought Canada needed their own, separately-named version of Geo, which was already just a name, badge and marketing campaign, anyway.
Was the word “Geo” some kind of Canadian slur I’m not familiar with? Is calling someone a “Geo” basically saying they’re a miserable bedshitter who subsists entirely on boogers and smells bad? If so, I haven’t heard that, and I feel like I’ve been called all kinds of terrible names by Canadians, shortly before heartfelt apologies.
The Asuna lineup included three cars, two named for the sun, and one named for some letters: the Asüna Sunfire (an Isuzu Impulse/Geo Storm), the Asüna Sunrunner (a Suzuki Sidekick/Geo Tracker), and the Asüna SE and GT (a Daewoo/Pontiac LeMans).
Now, there’s nothing really wrong with any of these cars—well, except for the Daewoo LeMans, which was a pretty unrepentant piece of shit. The Isuzu and the Suzuki, though, they were good, fun cars, and each of them filled a needed market niche: small, fun off-roader, and a nimble little sports coupé.
They weren’t really meh, but their brand was incredibly meh, because it simply did not need to ever have existed. The lack of a fundamental reason to exist, period, I’d think is a pretty damning criteria for mehnitude.
Every car in the Asüna lineup was already sold by at least two other brands, in some cases more. It’s not like Asüna was doing any really revolutionary marketing or selling cars in some radically new way, like flat-pack and home assembly or in powdered form or shit—it was the exact same way Geo or Pontiac or whoever was selling cars, just with an umlaut.
Here, look at some French-Canadian Asüna ads:
I mean, that could have been a Geo ad or a Suzuki ad or whatever; it’s just someone with a little 4x4 who has auditory hallucinations of jungle sounds and as a result drives up staircases of official buildings. That’s a winning formula that works for any brand.
Want to see another? Too bad, I’m showing you anyway:
Ah, look at that, that super-famous person drives a miserable shitbox! She’s just like us! So why does she never respond to my tweets or acknowledge that bag of hair I sent her?
Incredibly, it took GM two whole years to realize they’d created an entire marque for no good reason whatsoever, something all of you probably realized two sentences into reading this. The marque was dissolved in 1994: the Sunrunner became the Chevrolet Tracker, and the Daewoo and the Isuzu were just dropped from GM Canada, because, fuck it, I guess.
I bet whatever marketing con-man that somehow managed to convince GM that Canada needed a near-duplicate of an American-market brand just to sell some re-badged imports felt a sense of relief when it was all over, since each and every day must have been a harrowing exercise in just trying to lay low and hope nobody decided to look too deeply at what was going on.
Asüna may be the most Meh Marque to ever marque a meh. A brand that had zero unique cars, zero new ideas, and zero reason to even exist at all.
Bang up job, early ‘90s GM! Another triumph!