When it comes to loving cars, sometimes the grass really is greener on the other side. These North American shores are privy to some of the finest cars in the world, from US mainstays like the Corvette and Mustang, to zillions of fantastic foreign imports.
But to the auto devotee in the know, it seems that for every great car we get… there’s a four-wheeled gem that we don’t. The reasons vary – from sales potential to pricing to safety regulations – but at the end of the day we’ll have to observe some of our favorite nameplates from afar.
These are 11 of the cars Americans want, but can’t have…
It’s strange to think that in the land of pickup trucks, Ford no longer retails its plucky Ranger pickup. The US-spec Ranger disappeared altogether in 2012, while the rest of the world got the rugged and diesel-toting Ranger T6. Hands up if you’d rather have this over an F-150?
Volkswagen Scirocco R
Another car that has come and gone from American shores. The Scirocco offered impressive 16-valve performance and fantastic looks in the ’80s. Its run was cut short by the VW Corrado… another gone-but-not-forgotten great from Wolfsburg.
Holden Ute SS-V
The Australians have single handedly cornered the ute marketplace. Perhaps it’s because they’re the only ones good at building them. Holden, GM’s down-under division, provides Aussies with the 360 horsepower and 390 lb-ft Holden SS-V. It has a V8 at the front, sports car in the middle, a bale of hay in the back – who wouldn’t want that?
Honda Civic Type R
The production-ready Civic Type R is fresh off its debut, it looks mean as anything, and yup… you wont find one over here. The Type R is based on the European Civic, which Honda says doesn’t meet US regulations. That doesn’t help our lust though – the front-wheel drive R trounced the Nurburgring in a blistering 7 minutes 50 seconds.
Ever thought Ford should bring back the Bronco? You’re not alone in that regard. But interestingly, in Brazil it builds the next best thing. It’s called the T4 and it’s built by Troller, a Ford-acquired Brazilian truck firm. It looks the part of a tough off-roader and goes like one, too, thanks to its solid axles and rugged five-cylinder diesel.
You don’t need a 707-horsepower V8 to have fun in a car – the teensy Twingo is proof of that. It may only have a tiny three-cylinder engine, but it’s tucked in the back and it drives the rear wheels. In a rare reprieve, those of us on this side of the Atlantic will net this chassis underneath the new Smart ForTwo later this year.
Everyone could do with a bit more cash, right? Dacia knows this and retails its Duster in Europe to penny-pinching SUV seekers. It worked. It might not have all the bells and whistles, but for about $17,200 (or less than a base Ford Focus in the UK) you could buy a 1.6-liter Duster 4×4. Not a bad looker, is it?
Jaguar XFR-S Sportbrake
The wagon tends to fade in-and-out of favor in the US, but strap a supercharged 5.0-liter V8 underneath its snout and you’re likely to be in the cool club for a while. Such is the tale of the XFR-S Sportbrake. It packs 550 horsepower, a 186 mph top speed, yet can eagerly haul all your home renovation supplies.
Land Rover Defender
Here’s a daring move. Build a rugged ute and then don’t change much of it for a long time. Land Rover did that with the Defender, as well as its Series forefathers, and the move has resulted in quite possibly the most sought after forbidden fruit for US fans. UK production will end this year, but JLR might keep the wheels turning on small scale production abroad.
With a new Golf R and hardcore Ford Focus RS, the US certainly doesn’t need a teeny-speedy Audi, but we can think of a few reasons why we should have one. How about all-wheel-drive, 231 horsepower, and 273 lb-ft of torque stuffed in a hatchback that’s barely larger that a Fiesta?
Toyota Land Cruiser 70
Sure, we’re no stranger to Toyota’s posh yet capable Land Cruiser in the US. But it pales in comparison to Toyota’s 70 Series workhorse that has been chugging along since 1984 in the more remote parts of the world, especially down under. The lucky Aussies get torquey turbo-diesel V8s, snorkels, troop carrier body styles, and the vaunted double-cab flatbed.