You Can’t Always Get What You Want: Sweet Rides Not Sold in the US
The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence! There are a lot of choices for the American car buyer, including a lot of imports from both Asia and Europe. US market demands drive a lot of the decisions that automakers use to guide their product development. However, a whole world of unique cultural and regulatory approaches to cars and driving generates some really neat cars which you won’t be seeing on our roads.
Drivers will always long for cars that aren’t sold in the US. Psychology aside though, there are emissions, crash worthiness, fuel standards and cultural issues (lack of wide roads and an excess of parking) that keep certain cars contained inside certain markets. Most automakers tailor specific designs to certain markets. The rest of us are left longing for what we can’t have. Here are a few cars that you won’t find at your local US dealer.
Audi RS 4 Avant: An Impressive Speed Machine
If a power wagon is your dream vehicle, the Audi RS 4 Avant is the car you might need to move to Europe for. When the Germans produce a car with initials that stand for ‘racing sport’, you know you are in for something special.
With a 4.2 liter V8 that puts out 317 lb-ft of torque and does 0-60 in just 4.7 seconds, the RS4 is a race car at heart. Conveniently it also comes with a state-of-the-art navigation and telematics system. Never before has the station wagon seemed so appealing.
Toyota Century: The Ultimate Sophistication
Japan’s limousine, the Century is hand crafted with lace rear curtains and wool covered massaging seats among other luxuries. It’s the first and only Japanese V12 with front engine and rear wheel drive.
It’s easy to imagine one of these rolling through the streets of Manhattan. If only they were available in the US.
Alfa MiTo: Unmistakable Italian Elegance
Alfa Romeo makes the MiTo (that’s Milan, Torino, and means “mythical”) which competes with the Mini and the Audi A1. It’s a sporty 3 door with a turbocharged two-cylinder engine that uses the better part of 12 seconds to get up to 60 mph.
What it lacks in pure performance, though, it makes up in style by combining internal Italian flair with a better-than-most body style that calls into question its micro class.
Volkswagen Scirocco: An Automotive Icon Reborn
Volkswagen has a couple of models that US drivers wish they could get their hands on. The Scirocco, named after the desert winds of the Mediterranean, is a beautiful, sporty, hatchback coupe.
Marking 40 years of production, a face lift in 2014 left the Scirocco more powerful and efficient, while retaining that essential practicality that has been the Volkswagen trademark for so long.
Volkswagen Amarok: Authentic Off-Road Look and Abilities
The US market loves diesel 4×4 trucks, and if Volkswagen offered the Amarok to US buyers, it would surely find a niche.
Off road enthusiasts are drawn to the elegant design, luxury leather detailing, GPS navigation and powerful diesel performance. With 309 lb-ft of torque, the Amarok rivals the power output of US trucks, and does it with European practicality and clarity of design.
Mercedes-Benz CLS63 AMG Shooting Brake: A Head-Turner
When the folks at Top Gear describe a vehicle as “the only car you’ll ever need“, it’s time to take note. One of the coolest vehicles in the Mercedes-Benz lineup, the CLS63 AMG is a station wagon that whips up a perfect combination of style, usability and performance.
It looks and feels powerful with its 354 lb-ft of torque, a high belt line and sloping rear end. As the fellows at Top Gear suggest, the Shooting Brake might be the perfect car.
Peugeot RCZ: The Right Combination of Sporty and Classy
The name Peugeot might be gone from the US market, but they still make some fine automobiles. With its soft curves and futuristic roof line, the RCZ captures the essence of a coupe. It turns heads, it’s fun to drive, it’s strong (270 hp!), and it has more room than its exterior suggests.
Well done, Peugeot.
Land Rover Defender: Unbeatable Off-Road
At the end of 1997, tumbling sales numbers and a changing regulatory environment led Land Rover to pull the Defender from the US market.
The Defender is the perfect, go anywhere, built to handle anything Land Rover. Its 2.2 liter, four cylinder diesel puts out 265 lb-ft of torque at just 2200 RPM. However, due to the emissions and safety standards, this brand might face a complete redesign in the near future. Still, it would be nice to have another crack at this iconic vehicle in the US.
All great brands, but the models listed are the cream of the crop of what can’t be bought here in the US. We hope this list gets shorter in the future!