There are many cars in the world that North American drivers would like to drive but just aren’t able to get their hands on. There are a number of reasons why the cars on this list might want to be driven by someone from the States: 1) low cost, 2) gas efficiency, 3) cosmetics and appearance, 4) name recognition, and 5) being different…
In a place that prides itself on individuality, the United States doesn’t have a good show of it on the road. There are plenty of Toyota Priuses and Camrys and Land Rovers and Mercedes-Benzes on the road, but what you won’t see are Peugeots or Holdens or Daihatsus or Peroduas or Weissmanns or KTMs or Citroëns or Tatas or Morgans… you get the picture. We’re missing out on a lot over here.
And some of the cars that can’t (or won’t) be imported to the US are super awesome, too, which makes it that much more painful. If you go abroad, you’ll see most of these cars on the road—the Tata Indigo, for instance, is basically India’s equivalent to our Toyota Prius, in terms of popularity, and the Citroën DS3 gets even better gas mileage than a Prius.
So without further ado, feast your eyes on these 20 cars that Americans wish they could drive (but can’t, for a variety of reasons).
19 Peugeot RCZ Coupe
The Peugeot RCZ is a stunning coupe and one that would likely do very well in North America. Unfortunately, Peugeot hasn’t sold a car in the US since 1992. French car company Peugeot launched the car in April 2010, and it’s available in almost 80 countries (excluding the US). It was introduced at the 2009 Frankfurt Auto Show, and they’re assembled by Magna Steyr of Magna International.
The petrol engines of the RCZ Coupe are based on the Prince platform, while the diesel engines are part of the HDi project.
Diesel Car magazine awarded the Peugeot RCZ five successive “Best Sports Car” awards, and Top Gear awarded it the “2010 Coupe of the Year” award. Production for the RCZ ended in 2015 after a production period of almost six years.
18 Alfa Romeo Giulietta
The Giulietta is another stylish, small-sized family car produced by the Italian automakers at Alfa Romeo. The car was introduced at the 2010 Geneva Motor Show. A viability plan was forwarded to the US Government in 2009, where Chrysler (partnered with Alfa Romeo’s parent company, Fiat) reported that the Giulietta would come to market as the "Milano" and would be built in the USA. However, in 2010 Fiat was planning on bringing larger model cars (such as the Giulia) to the market, so even though the Giulietta came in second place in the 2011 European Car of the Year awards, it didn’t make landfall on US soil. Between 2010 to 2017, over 350,000 Giuliettas were built.
So, while Alfa Romeo is making a comeback in the US with its 4C sports car, the Giulietta hatchback is still nowhere to be seen.
17 Volkswagen Scirocco
In North America, Volkswagen is known for its fast, sporty small cars, so the Volkswagen Scirocco is somewhat of an anomaly. This three-door, front-engine hatchback has been around since 1974, in three different generations: the first two from 1974 to 1992 and the third from 2008 to 2017.
The third generation Scirocco—also the coolest looking model—was noticeably excluded from the US markets.
According to Volkswagen America VP Adrian Hallmark, Volkswagen chose not to introduce the Scirocco in North America because it would adversely affect Golf GTI sales. The final decision was made by Martin Winterkorn (Volkswagen CEO) rather than Volkswagen of America. MotorAuthority reported in 2008 that Winterkorn said, “The car would fit the US market, but at the current exchange rate we wouldn’t make any money.” It’s a shame because the Scirocco is a pretty sweet hatchback.
16 Audi A1
The Audi A1 is a “supermini” economy car first revealed at the 2010 Geneva Auto Show. Initial sales of the three-door A1 started in Germany in 2010 and then, the UK. A five-door version called the "Sportback" was launched in November 2011. The A1 is meant to compete with BMW’s Mini Cooper, and Audi believes cars of this nature won’t be successful in the US.
The Audi A1 is currently available only in Europe, starting at around €16,000 (approximately $22,000).
Despite the company’s belief that the A1 doesn’t have a place in the American market, the A1 1.4 TFSI Sport was awarded “Car of the Year 2011” by the British What Car? Magazine. Also, if the company saw how Mini Coopers were doing in North America, maybe they’d change their minds.
15 Perodua Myvi
The Perodua Myvi is a B-segment car (which is classified by the European Commission as cars larger than an A-segment and smaller than a C-segment) produced by Malaysian automaker Perodua. The Myvi has been around since 2005 and is based on the Daihatsu Boon. In fact, the Myvi was originally the result of a partnership between Toyota and Daihatsu, though the newest third generation of the car was made in-house in Malaysia.
The Perodua Myvi was the best-selling car in Malaysia for 8 consecutive years, from 2006 to 2013, which is pretty crazy considering most North Americans had never heard of it before. Another perk of the Myvi is that the starting price for one of these little cars is just $10,377.
14 Holden HSV Maloo
Australian automaker HSV, as "Holden Special Vehicles," is the performance vehicle partner of Holden, who makes the Maloo utility vehicle. The company modifies special Holden models, such as the standard-wheelbase Commodore, the long-wheelbase Caprice, and this pickup-truck-sedan utility combo. T
he Maloo offers the utility of a truck and the power of a muscle car, and it comes equipped with a Corvette-inspired V8 engine.
While the Chevy El Camino and the Ford Ranchero were popular in their heyday—before being discontinued in the ‘70s and the ‘80s—the Holden HSV Maloo continues its legacy. So, while it may seem counterintuitive to release the cars to the North American market, given past results, we believe the Maloo would fit nicely on the roads here. For now, however, they’re only available in the land down under.
13 Toyota Hilux
Here’s a car that has us scratching our heads—not because it’s a bad car but because we can’t see why Toyota wouldn’t release it to US markets. The Hilux has all the amenities that pickup drivers love, and given the popularity of the F150, the Tacoma, and the El Dorado, we see no reason why the Hilux wouldn’t perform well here. The Hilux name was retired in North America in 1976 and replaced with "Truck," "Pickup Truck," and "Compact Truck."
In North America, the SR5 (Sport Rally 5-Speed) was used as a model name for the Hilux, and in 1984, the Toyota Trekker (a camper version of the Helix) was renamed the "4Runner" (in Australia and USA) and the "Hilux Surf" (in Japan). In 1995, Toyota introduced a new pickup in North America, the Tacoma, and the Hilux was discontinued there.
12 Land Rover Defender
British car company Land Rover hasn’t sold the old-school Defender in the US for 15 years, which is a shame because its simplicity and ruggedness would surely do well here. Originally called the "Land Rover Ninety" and "Land Rover One Ten," this four-wheel-drive off-road vehicle was developed in the ‘80s from the original Land Rover series, which launched in June 1948. After a continuous run of 67 years, production for the Defender finally ended on January 29, 2016.
At the beginning of this year (January 2018), Jaguar Land Rover officially announced their intention to launch a completely new Defender, and we can’t wait to see what it looks like.
If history is any indication, it won’t look much different from the Defenders of old, as the 2010 models looked very similar to the 1990s models. We just hope they bring them to the US.
11 Jaguar XFR-S Sportbrake
The Jaguar XFR-S Sportbrake is a great example of what a successful station wagon can look like. It’s just too bad that this high-performance wagon doesn’t have the same resonance in North America as it does in Europe. I guess we just don’t like station wagons that much, even ones that have 550 horsepower and a 5.0-liter supercharged V8 engine… plus, it has room for all your luggage!
The XFR-S was confirmed in 2012 following a picture Jaguar released before the Los Angeles Motor Show. It was quite heartbreaking to release it in LA when the car didn’t even end up making it to US markets. This sporty wagon can hit 0-60 mph in just 4.4 seconds and has a top speed of 186 mph. It has a rear diffuser, quad tailpipes, a stiff suspension, and a front grille that improves aerodynamics by cutting lift by 68%.
10 Daihatsu Copen
The Daihatsu Copen is a two-seater that blends fuel economy with a mini body and the sportiness of a roadster. It was first introduced by Japanese automaker Daihatsu at the 1999 Tokyo Motor Show. A second-generation model was introduced in 2013 as the Kopen (Future Included). This car would definitely give the Mini Cooper and the Fiat a run for their money, but for now, they’re only sold in Asia and Europe. These cars feature an aluminum retractable roof and a 1.3-liter engine that can bring you from 0-60 mph in just 9.5 seconds.
The Copen has been featured on Top Gear, where James May attempted to find the best convertible car.
The Audi A4, the Mercedes-Benz CLK, the Citroen C3 Pluriel, and the Volkswagen New Beetle were the competition against the Copen, and while James liked the Copen, he said it “felt toy-ish.”
9 Toyota Century
The Toyota Century is a four-door limousine created for the Japanese market and is Toyota’s flagship car in that country. Production of the Century began in 1967 and only had minor changes done to it until a 1997 redesign. A modified Century, called the "Century Royal," is the official state car used by Japan's Emperor, being a specially built $500,000 custom Century. The Century Royal has Japanese rice paper headlining, wool cloth upholstery, and internal granite entry steps.
The Toyota Century is iconic in Asian countries, with the only similar cars being the Nissan President, the Mitsubishi Debonair, and the Mazda Roadpacer. These other large sedans were short-lived, but the Toyota Century Royal keeps on keeping on.
8 Abarth Punto Evo
Abarth is an Italian racing company best known as a subsidiary of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. Abarth controls Fiat Chrysler’s European automotive production activities, and the Punto Evo was introduced in 2007 when Abarth was re-established as an independent unit controlled 100% by Fiat Group Automobiles S.p.A. This new subsidiary dealt with the production of passenger and light commercial vehicles. The Grande Punto was the first model launched by the new company.
The Punto Evo, which starts at just $25,864, is a high-performance vehicle based on the Fiat 500. People love it because of its high top speed and for the fact that it can reach 0-60 mph in just 7.9 seconds. Sadly, you won’t find any of these quick, sporty minis on North American roads, as it’s only available in Europe.
7 Citroën DS3
The DS3 is a “supermini” that's produced by the French automobile manufacturer Citroën, which launched the car in 2010. It was the initial car in Citroën's new DS range, and the DS3 was given a facelift in 2016 and relaunched as part of DS Automobiles’ separation from Citroën. Top Gear named the DS3 the “2010 Car of the Year,” which is quite a prestigious award, and it was the first supermini awarded four times in a row by JD Power Satisfaction Survey UK. It was named the second-most efficient supermini with 63.0 mpg by What Car?
In 2013, the DS3 was the most-sold premium subcompact car with 40% of its market share coming from Europe. The DS3 was designed to compete with the Mini and the Audi A1, and the rest of its shares come from South America, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia.
6 Wiesmann Roadster MF3
Wiesmann was a German carmaker that specialized in handbuilt convertibles. The company was founded by brothers Martin and Friedhelm Wiesmann, who combined their knowledge of engineering and business to create the company until its liquidation in 2014. The classy-looking MF3 was an improvement on the older MF 30, with a newer BMW 6-cylinder engine, originally from the BMW M3 performance car.
With its new engine, the M3 could accelerate from 0-60 mph in just 5.0 seconds and could reach a maximum speed of 158 mph. The Wiesmanns were considering bringing the car over to the States (and it probably would've done well) but didn’t end up making the move due to import duties and engineering tweaks that would've been required to meet US safety standards.
5 KTM X-Bow
The KTM X-Bow looks a little like a bumper car, but it’s actually an ultra-light sports car that’s used for racing and the road. It’s produced by Austrian motorcycle company KTM and is their first car in production. It was launched at the 2008 Geneva Motor Show.
Given its appearance, it might seem obvious why we don’t see any of these X-Bows on the streets in North America, but it’s still a shame since it can accelerate from 0-60 mph in 3.9 seconds.
The X-Bow was built in a collaboration between Kiska Design, Audi, and Dallara. It’s made of carbon fiber and uses an Audi engine. While only selling 350 vehicles in its first year of production (2008), it picked up in popularity in Europe and the United Arab Emirates. Nowadays, the only way you can import an X-Bow into the US is if you agree to drive it only on the track.
4 Aston Martin Lagonda
The Aston Martin Lagonda was a luxury four-door sedan built by the English automakers between 1974 and 1990. Only 645 were produced, with two distinct versions: the original, short-lived 1974 version based on the Aston Martin V8 and the wedge-shaped Series 2 model introduced in 1976.
In 2014, however, Aston Martin announced and confirmed that they would build and launch a new Lagonda called the "Taraf" that was only available in the Middle East market, and get this—they’re sold by invitation only, which means it doesn’t matter how much money you have. If you want one of these stylish, luxurious sedans, you have to be invited to buy one. Talk about an exclusive car! (And cool-looking, too.)
3 Lotus Exige S
The Lotus Exige is a two-door, two-seat sports car built by British motor company Lotus. It’s a coupe version of the Elise and looks like a supercar (and acts like one, too). The Exige S was launched in 2006, using a turbocharged Toyota engine that produced 220 bhp. For a long time, the Exige S was available in the US, but eventually, Lotus pulled the V6-powered Exige line from the States.
Luckily for sports car enthusiasts, there are plenty of Exiges still on the American markets, from 2007 and below. A used Exige S typically runs for about $50,000, which is a steal considering a) what it looks like, b) what it can do, and c) its availability. Several Exiges are currently in the SCCA Pro Racing World Challenge, in the Supercar Challenge, and in the GT300 class of the Super GT.
2 Noble M600
Made in Leicestershire, the Noble M600 is a handbuilt British supercar built from carbon fiber and stainless steel. It has a twin-turbocharged Volvo V8 and runs for about $450,000 in the United States. Unfortunately, none of these incredibly fast supercars have made it to the US. With a top speed of 225 mph, the Noble M600 is one of the fastest road cars on the planet. It can hit 0-60 mph in 3.0 seconds and 0-100 mph in just 6.5 seconds.
The car was driven three times on Top Gear, first by Jeremy Clarkson, who gave it considerable praise, and then by The Stig, who raced it on the track in 1:17.7 on a chilly day, besting the Bugatti Veyron and the Pagani Zonda F Roadster.
Richard Hammond took a left-hand-drive version of the car (which sells for considerably more than the $450,000 asking price), through Italy, and the clutch failed.
1 Morgan Aero 8
Finally, we come to the Morgan Aero 8, which looks like an old ‘20s gangster car, though it’s actually a sports car built by the Morgan Motor Company in England. The Aero 8 was the first new design by Morgan since the 1964’s +4+ model. It doesn't use anti-roll bars, which is odd for a modern sporting car. Also an oddity, the Aero 8 is the first Morgan car built on an aluminum chassis and frame as opposed to the traditional Morgan vehicles built on aluminum-skinned wooden bodies on steel chassis.
This car looks awesome. It’s also powered by a BMW 4,400 cc V8 and a 6-Speed Getrag transmission. After being criticized for its “cross-eyed look,” Morgan redesigned the car in 2007, giving it a front-end appearance. And though this car will turn heads, unfortunately, it won’t be turning any heads in the USA.
Sources: Bloomberg.com, Businessinsider.com, Wikipedia.org