In the late 1950s, Renault was locked in a battle with Volkswagen for superiority in the burgeoning import car market in America. Affordable foreign cars were just starting to find their footing among U.S. buyers, who still clung loyally to their large and luxurious barges from the big three, but even in the 1950s, fuel efficiency was becoming an increasingly important issue, as was maneuverability in urban environments, where these compact and lightweight cars were at their best. Renault had been playing second fiddle to Volkswagen was looking to up their game in this competitive and fast-growing new market. On paper, the Renault Dauphine actually shared many characteristics with the Beetle, namely the rear engine layout, basic construction, and styling that leaned toward the quirky and cute. The Dauphine offered perhaps greater practicality with its four-door body, but Volkswagen seemed to have a stranglehold on the market thanks to strong marketing and an ever-growing cult-following.