Curbside Travel: The Kleins Go To Europe – Days 5-6, Copenhagen

Xpeng P7i

Another day in Copenhagen but with a very unexpected sight – a semi-disguised prototype test car.  I’d expect to perhaps run across this in Death Valley in the summer or northern Finland in the winter or up near the Eisenhower Tunnel at home for high-elevation testing, but not in early spring in Denmark.  Nevertheless, here it was, complete with a French registration.  If you know what it is without cheating, I’ll be impressed; the answer is below but I’ll give two hints: It’s not a Tesla and we are unlikely to see it in the United States.

But first let’s rewind the day a little.  On day five we awoke and gathered ourselves to try and find a light breakfast for under $75 for four. In the end I think we gave in and just got a second mortgage in order to eat.  On the menu for the day’s activities were a few genuine touristy/landmark sights that weren’t kitshy, more wandering around in order to see stuff and take random pictures, and just relaxation and tying to get hygge with it.  Hygge is a Danish concept of coziness and “comfortable conviviality” associated with feelings of wellness and contentment which we figured we could achieve just by being relaxed while wandering around. 

Skoda Felicia Wagon

So off we went and eventually found ourselves near the Amalienborg Castle which is the official residence of the Danish Royal Family and as you might expect sits on a square that features a large statue of a man on a horse as these things tend to do.  It’s not really castle-like (or at least not Disney castle-like), but more like several large stately buildings resembling a palace complex but less ostentatious than usual.  Refreshingly restrained and comfortably Scandinavian, in other words.  I took it in, the kids took pictures of it and I spent a few minutes getting excited over an old Skoda Felicia wagon around the corner.

The Felicia was based on the older Favorit, but was the first Skoda to benefit from being taken over by VW.  This one dates from the later ’90s if I’m not mistaken and beyond a little rust on the tailgate looked in pretty good shape.  Skoda’s come a long way since then, but this was sort of the beginning of their modern era.  It still exhibits a little of that eastern European awkwardness of design but these are getting somewhat rare so a welcome sight.  More sights beckoned though, so I said Bye, Felicia and wandered off.

Mitsubishi SpaceWagon

But not too far away I spied this, it’s not a space pod, but it is a Mitsubishi SpaceWagon!  Remember the old Colt Vista and the Mitsubishi Expo and all of their variants, kind of tall early three-row vanette-ish vehicles?  This replaced those but it never came to North America.

I liked those a lot, so I like these as well if not even more (better name).  This here seems to date to around the turn of the century and besides a bit of dirt looks to be in very good condition.  The styling has a touch of Austin/MG Montego about it if you’re familiar with that car or at least that came to mind immediately.

Getting a little fancier, this is perhaps close to half a million dollars of EV (in US terms), with from the left a Tesla Model 3 (the cheap one here), then a new Mercedes EQS SUV in the middle and the curiously also named EQS sedan on the right – effectively the S-Classes of MB’s electric SUV and Sedan lines.  I stated the other day that I wasn’t loving the EQS (sedan) look but actually from the front angle here I kind of like it now.  Why they named both the SUV and the sedan the same is beyond me but maybe there’s something I’m missing.  I hadn’t seen the SUV before but apparently it’s available now, at least in Europe.  I think there may be some sort of charging infrastructure behind these cars, seeing as two are backed in for no other readily apparent reason.

Hey, will one of you locals help me out with the license plates here – these above seem like the modern Europlates with the country designator on the left.  But looking back, is the Skoda still on the older Danish plates and the Mitsubishi on even older yellow Danish plates?

Not far away was another section of EV charging/parking with from the right a Skoda (that I believe is a platform mate to the VW ID.4), then three white Teslas, then a VW ID.3 followed by an Audi Q4 e-tron and a Mercedes GLE PHEV (I think).  Beyond that there’s one more too.

These chargers are by Clever and seem to use an app and near-field communication to make things work.  This angle is looking back from what I think was a Mercedes GLE PHEV (the white one), then the Audi Q4 e-tron, VW ID.3 and the white Teslas.

Fiat 500s are quite popular in Europe and my kid likes them a lot, although he says he’d prefer the EV one (which I didn’t see any of while over there).  We’ll see, at the moment there’s an old Outback with his name sort of on it…But this 500 is the “dolcevita” edition, says so right on the fender!

This is an almost new VW T-Roc Cabrio which I thought I would strongly dislike when I heard about it but I actually like it a lot after seeing it in the metal, it more or less takes over for the Golf as well as the Beetle Cabrios (and the older Eos as well) and somehow works far better visually than similar designs such as the Nissan Murano Cabrio and Range Rover Evoque Cabrio.

It’s a little odd but blends in quite well, you can see a little Beetle and a little Golf in it, and the color is great.  That’s all just my opinion of course, but a pleasant surprise for me.

Suzuki Wagon R+

A Suzuki Wagon R+, my aunt one had the Opel Agila version of this.  Gotta love the huge wing on the back of a 1.3liter runabout.

Short, tall, and unapologetically angular.  Straight Outta Tokyo.

What’s not to like?  How exactly did Suzuki fail in the US?  Or did we fail Suzuki?  There are so many good designs across the world from this inventive motorcycle and auto maker.

I did not know for sure what this was when I saw it, but it was displayed/installed near the park entrance that we were walking into.  The plaque was not helpful, upon translation is merely says that it was dedicated to the municipality of Copenhagen by Copenhagen’s marine association.  We were near the waterfront so I figured it was a mine and upon further research that is what it apparently is.  I don’t know why it’s here specifically and I also didn’t tap on it.  Well, not very hard anyway.  If anyone knows more as to why it’s here, please enlighten us.  It’s on wheels and its near the curb of the street so it’s relevant.

The park had a little sub-park within it with its own fence and pathway with this very intriguing pairing along with a groundskeeper that was trimming the bushes.  The little truck is an electric pickup version of what we know (or knew) as the Nissan NV200 (also badged Chevy CityExpress).

I think Nissan mated an NV200 with a Leaf and came up with this, we also saw van versions but the pickup conversion was neat.  The interior is a little larger than the Piaggio Porter we saw in Barcelona and has a few more creature comforts.

A flatbed with dropsides and a barrier to protect the cab, all very nice and neatly done. I spoke with the man driving it and he said it was great, range is not huge, maybe 150km on a good day but he’s always had enough for a whole day’s work and then it recharges overnight.

And it had a trailer for the brush he was removing.  What a great little combination that allows him to drive on the unpaved path as well as through the city.

He was just finishing up when I got there so I was able to watch him drive away.  14 seconds of video…The sound is the wind, the EV is silent.

Turning around there was a seaplane docked!  This is a DeHavilland Canada DHC-6-300 Twin Otter and is apparently used for sightseeing flights.  Maybe another time for we had a date!

Yes, with The Little Mermaid!  She’s stranded on the rocks just offshore but allowed us to photograph her with some Danish Navy ships in the far distance (and the Twin Otter).  She’s been there since 1913 and has suffered a few casualties since, starting in the 1960s when her head was sawn off and never recovered.  So she got a new one as one does.  This vantage point didn’t do it for me though so my son and I decided to get a bit closer.

There, that’s better.  Or it was until tragedy struck!  I told my son to watch out as the rocks were a little more slippery where we were.  Then I tried to move and slipped, my phone went in the air, I swatted at it to catch it, as did my son and it fell down and into the water.  Doh!  My younger son immediately jumped into the water (!) which only came up to his knees while I crouched down and tried to see the phone.  My older son, the certified lifeguard, decided to take that moment to go examine something on the other side of the viewing platform.

Anyway, after a few seconds of frantic fumbling we found the phone as it had slipped underneath an underwater boulder and returned to the rest of our family sheepishly.  Now we had to get back to the hotel as my son’s pants were wet from the knees down as were his socks.  His choice of Crocs for once paid off as instead of letting water in all day, now the holes in the sandals were letting water out.  We were half a mile or so from the hotel so decided to walk it, it was cold but not freezing.  Besides him, I was most concerned about the pictures I had taken as I didn’t think they would have wirelessly synced to my computer while out and about.  I shook the phone a bit to get water out of its orifices and wondered if it would ever work well again.

I’m pleased to report that this photo was taken a quarter mile away and ten minutes later and the phone survived just fine and still works great, I just shook the water off/out and then stuck it in my pocket, no bowls of rice or anything.  As soon as we got back to the hotel I downloaded everything just in case but it all worked out for once.

Anyway, who doesn’t love a 2CV?   I mean besides our European readers who see this and the other stuff all day every day so they are as blasé about it as we are about a ’94 Lumina that they’d get excited over if one appeared.

These little fun cars and others like them such as the Beetle and the Mini are great in bright colors but there’s something about a gray 2CV that just feels right as well.  It’s so dignified.  Kind of.  Ok, not really, but it’s trying and this one looks in such good condition, it’s nice to see someone using it while it’s raining and in the city, as if it was a real car, which it actually is.  Good job, Mr. or Mrs, Dane, wherever you are.

Citroen 2CV

I want to go for a ride in it.  Alas we were still walking with Mr. SoggyPants so I hustled to catch up to them.

Once dried off, we headed out again, to find a section of town that my wife said sounded interesting from her guidebook perusals back at home, a sort of bohemian enclave in the middle of the city.  Okay, let’s go, maybe there’ll be cheaper coffee there.  Fairly close to our hotel I spied what could only be some sort of prototype with camouflage on parts of it.

So like a big game hunter I approached warily, I’ve seen enough Hans Lehmann and Jim Dunne spy photos dating back to the 1980s to know that if you’re not careful someone may emerge from the car like an enraged bear and try to go all Sean Penn vs the Paparazzi on you.  I didn’t have a two foot long lens, just a slightly damp red iPhone 11.  Stealthy!  I crouched low and circled around the rear.

Oh yeah, I know how the game works.  The logos are all taped over and the camo is on the parts they don’t want you to be able to discern the exact shape of.  Since the whole car isn’t covered it’s already been released to some extent but maybe elsewhere and some bits are changing slightly for this market.  The shape was vaguely familiar, but it also looks a lot like a Tesla Model S but I didn’t think it was, the details were non-Tesla like.

Oh jeez, the dude is in the car!  The dude is in the car!  But I think he’s taking a nap.  My wife just walks on, completely unimpressed with anything I’m doing.  But wait, what’s on the door?  It’s a huge QR-code with the name UTAC above it (you can enlarge the picture and scan it with your phone, the website is French but has an english-language toggle.)  It turns out it’s a link to the company testing/developing the car.  They do all kinds of stuff with electronics and EV batteries and so forth but no details on this car itself.

So what is the car?  It’s an Xpeng P7i, the facelifted version of the P7.  It’s a Chinese car, and along with Nio and Li Auto represents one of the three more promising/successful newer manufacturers after BYD in that market yet they are already in Norway and the Netherlands and seem to be working their way across the rest of Scandinavia to start with.  This car is meant to compete with Tesla’s Model 3 on price although size-wise it pretty much splits the Model 3 and the Model S and resembles the S quite a bit.  They also have several other models available as well, here’s the link to their site.  If you google the name of the car you’ll find several very recent stories on this newer version.  So far Xpeng have sold about 250,000 full-size EVs worldwide.

Time to tame things down a bit with this, a Ford Mondeo (Fusion) wagon, a variant that never made it across the pond.  This one looks as bad as it could in this color with the steelies and snow tires, but they look better in brighter colors.

Here’s that Toyota Mirai Hydrogen Fuel-Cell taxi that I showed you the other day (or a twin to it, I can’t be sure) in action.  The styling is still off-putting while in motion…

Crossing the road towards our next destination we walked along a waterway for a bit and some waterfowl got quite close but seemed happy to have their picture taken.

Then all of a sudden it seemed maybe they’d had enough of that and with this stern look I decided I had what I needed and beat a hasty retreat.  We continued on to the place my wife wanted to see which is called Christiania and apparently started out as sort of a free-love anything goes bohemian enclave in the center of the city where people smoked a little dope and hung out, whatever.

Well.  Maybe it was cool at one time.  If you’ve ever watched the most excellent HBO series “The Wire”, there is a whole season dedicated to a neighborhood and concept that was dubbed “Hamsterdam”.  That is pretty much exactly what Christiania has devolved to.  Everyone can do what they want, don’t harm others, the police will stay away, I’m down with all that, you be you, I’ll be me, whatever, it’s fine, but it’s basically sort of a slummy compound with a couple of shacks vending stuff among  a few randomly painted houses and a whole lot (multiple dozens) of “entrepreneurs” all with a few feet of separation between them  sitting behind little home-made boxes or lectern type of things willing to sell you whatever you might desire to get high.  Not what we were expecting and not how whatever my wife had read had depicted it.  Avoid.  We left hastily but coolly and then found a store to get a beverage at and get hygge with it again.

And what could be more hygge than a Morris Minor 1000 Traveller next to a canal?

Wood on the rear.

A survivor that seems well loved.

Excellent decoration.  The Minor was built from 1948-1971 and I’m guessing this is a later car. Which still makes it 50+ years old best case.

It looks quite good inside, the door panel is still there too.

Wood all over the back, contrasting wheels, a great shade of (Copenhagen?) Blue, and a tow hitch.  What’s not to like?

Sign me up even though I didn’t see a cup(pa tea) holder in the cabin.  This one belongs to a portrait studio, so it’ll likely be around for some years yet.  The tables turned today where I took pictures of it instead!

I know, after the Morris it’s hard to get excited about a pickup truck but this is a Fiat Doblo Work Up, so think Ram ProMaster City with a bed instead of little van body.  The company name is that of a painting company, a van seems to make more sense for that but I don’t have the full story.

These come like this from the factory.  I’m appreciating the drop-side tray concept here as well, especially with the strap-down tonneau cover though it seems limited to shallow items.

Another neighborhood, and more EV chargers.  Tesla Model Y, VW ID.4, BMW i3 and a Renault Zoe (I think).  It doesn’t seem to be that difficult to install public charging infrastructure that seems to work… This and the other installations we’ve seen so far all seem well-integrated and hardly brand-new additions to the cityscape.

A broken down Corolla!  Oh wait, it’s the tire, the one part not supplied by Toyota.

Why do I only see red ones of these?  No it’s not the same one as yesterday.  Across the street is an older (but newer) Saab 9-5 Estate (Wagon).

Look!  Another Dacia!  And a different model too.  This one is much smaller, most of us are aware of the Sandero and the Duster, but those are larger.

Wait a minute…this thing is an EV!  This is the Dacia Spring.  I didn’t know about this car or that it was an EV until I looked it up just now.  It certainly doesn’t look like any EV currently on the market.  Good job, Dacia!

If Dacia, the low price leader of cars in Europe can bring out an EV (back in 2021) then there really is no excuse for anyone else not to have one or more at this point.  But to be fair, it is more of a city car than most other EVs on the market today with a range of just over 100 or so miles (just like the Mini Cooper EV that we reviewed here) but at the price (this is the cheapest EV in Europe) and the fact it’s made in China and is heavily based on the Renault City EV I suppose it makes sense.  The middle panel of the grille pops up to reveal the charge port and a newer version with a larger battery for more power and range was just released as well.

Here’s a great size comparison of the Model Y and the VW ID.3 that isn’t sold in North America.  The Y is actually quite a bit larger than it appears at first glance and EVs that are fully originally engineered as EVs tend to be roomier inside than normal cars of the same exterior dimensions.

Stop for blink is a sign you might expect to see well inside Asia but it does mean what it says.  If you see the blinking light, stop, as a drawbridge is about to do its thing.

In this case it’s referring to a nicely modern design of a bridge with a curve in it that is for pedestrians and bicyclists only.   Everyone gets their own lane markings too.

Here’s my family staying as far away from the bike lane as possible after one too many close encounters with cyclists.  All of which I will admit were the fault of us pedestrians stepping into the bike lane without realizing it (the markings are often far subtler than these, if you were born there I expect it becomes instinctual as to where to step.  We were not.)  The bridge did not blink so we got across it just fine.

Just across the bridge was this fine older Ford Mondeo liftback, also with a flat tire, just like the Corolla.  Something’s going around here…

A Suzuki Vitara with a junkyard rear door but curiously still with the matching decor stripes at the bottom that didn’t seem stock.  Everything in Denmark was so organized and well put together, the mismatched door just seemed a bit out of place.  Or human.  But then there’s the decor stripes…

We happened to walk past our Hotel, the Hotel Danmark.  I can only recommend it, it was a very pleasant place to stay and reasonably priced for Copenhagen with a good location from which one could walk to many places.

Here’s a Danish police car, in this case a VW Passat Wagon.  I love how most European countries and cities use high visibility paint and markings on their police cars, it’s almost like they want to be seen.

We did leave Copenhagen in the late morning of the 6th day of our trip and luck of the draw got us a ride in a VW Touran taxi, sort of a small minivan, large tall wagon.  Also a diesel, this one had well over 400k kilometers on the clock and was also quiet and rattle free.  Although it did have a large scrape down the driver’s side of the car.  In front of it is a Kia EV6 taxi (same car that we get) and what should pull in right behind us but that Toyota Mirai hydrogen fuel-cell taxi.  Or a different one that looked the same, I still couldn’t tell…

Lego toys come from Denmark so of course the airport had a Lego security gate and X-ray belt.

And then behind a plate glass window in the terminal was a display of “old technology” that included all kinds of things that made me feel old as I recall them as new and shiny things but also this Danish Formula 3 500cc race car from the late 1950s.

Alfa Dana Formula 3

It’s an Alfa Dana.  One of eight built.

When we return we will be in yet another country…and if you missed any part of the adventure and want to catch up, the links are below.  We’ll wait for you.

The other days so far:

Day 1-2ish

Day 3

Day 4