There has always been a bit of a mystique about cars sold in the European market. They seem to get things that we don't get in the US. More power, and better suspensions, for example. What are some of the less obvious differences between Euro-spec cars and U.S.-spec cars, though? We can think of three:

1. Hood Vents

Impact

Image Credit: Wired.com

Hood vents are so common here in the U.S. that many of us don’t even think twice when we see one. So you might be surprised to learn that some Europeans would go their entire lives without ever seeing a hood vent. It’s because hood vents are illegal in Europe, thanks to their pedestrian safety legislation.

The pedestrian safety legislation is designed to ensure safety for pedestrians. This involves outlawing hood vents, which have the potential to cause additional serious injuries if a pedestrian is hit by a car.

2. Aspherical Side Mirrors

Mirrors

If you’ve ever been to Europe, you may have noticed aspherical side mirrors on some cars. It’s common for aspherical side mirrors to also come with a smaller convex section on the far end.

Also called “Euro style” mirrors, aspherical side mirrors allow for a wider field of vision.

You would be hard-pressed to find a car with aspherical side mirrors in the U.S. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration only allows flat side mirrors with undistorted reflections on the left side of the vehicle. U.S. vehicles are allowed to have slightly convex sid e mirrors on the right, but not aspherical mirrors. 

3. Rear Fog Lights

Fog lights

Image Credit: Cars.com/Angela Conners

Did you know that rear fog lights are mandatory in Europe? What the heck are those things, anyway?

The rear fog light is commonly a bright red light situated on the left rear side of the vehicle. Some models have fog lights on both sides. It’s just as bright as the brake lights, and its purpose is to help other drivers behind you see your car better in weather conditions that limit visibility. The rear fog light is usually behind the rear tail light lens, so it's not noticeable when it is not turned on. It is switched on with the same switch used to turn on the front fog lights. 

Identifying U.S. Cars Vs. European Cars

If you come across a European sports car and you’re not sure whether it has U.S. specs or European specs, you can check the side mirrors and the rear of the car for aspherical mirrors and rear fog lights.