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Asüna Was a Weird GM Brand in Canada

Here’s something you might not know: In the early 1990s, General Motors created a brand sold only in Canada called Asüna. That umlauted u only added to the intrigue, in my opinion.

The Canadian market has always been more receptive than the U.S. market to small cars, largely because most of Canada’s population lives in one of the country’s big cities. As a result, Canada always gets one or two small cars that America doesn’t — the Mercedes-Benz B-Class, for instance, before it was brought to the U.S. as an electric car, or the Acura EL, an entry-level Acura never sold in the U.S.

So General Motors tried its hand in the early 1990s at creating a small Canadian car brand that would be something of an upscale version of Geo — a creation demanded by PontiacBuickGMC dealerships upset at the success of SaturnSaabIsuzu dealers. The result was Asüna, the name intending to sound European and luxurious, even though the brand was neither.

Asüna debuted in 1992, and its initial model was the Sunrunner, a rebadged Geo Tracker. The SE (a rebadged Pontiac LeMans, which was itself a rebadged Daewoo) and the Sunfire (which, amazingly, was not a rebadged Pontiac Sunfire but a rebadged Geo Storm, which was a rebadged Isuzu Impulse) came next year.

GM shut down Asüna after just two model years, given that its entire lineup was rebadged vehicles already sold elsewhere in the General Motors family. But for a short time, Asüna existed in Canada as an unusual decision made by General Motors to briefly create a new brand.

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