The good news is the Alfa Romeo 4C and Koenigsegg Agera R are both available in the U.S. for the first time in 2014. The bad news is there are many other hotly desired automobiles that still are not available in the U.S. — and probably never will be. Take the Land Rover Defender, an epic off-road vehicle that checked out of its stay in the U.S. after airbag restrictions tightened in the late 1990s. It’s not coming back.
Whether safety restrictions, marketing plans, or distribution issues stand in the way, American auto consumers can’t get some of the hottest cars drivers around the world enjoy. It doesn’t mean they aren’t worth a look (or a little lusting after). Here are eight automobiles U.S. consumers would love to have but don’t even have the chance.
1. Vauxhall VXR8 GTS
Vauxhall, a subsidiary of Opel (itself a subsidiary of GM in Europe), produces some slayers in its VXR performance division. Take the Vauxhall VXR8 GTS, for example. This quad-exhaust monster packs a 6.2-liter Eaton supercharged V8 capable of 576 hp and 545 lb-ft of torque to boot. That setup is good for a 0-60 mph sprint in 4.2 seconds and a top speed of 155 mph with six-speed manual or automatic transmission.
Vauxhall shows off the VXR8 tearing through a ring of fire on its home page, which seems like the ideal setting for a spin. There would undoubtedly be many takers if this car went on the U.S. market, but that won’t happen. It’s a variant of the Chevy SS that never had America in its sights.
2. Ford Falcon FPV GT-F 351
Ford Performance Vehicles of Australia is going to disappear with the rest of the Blue Oval’s manufacturing unit in the coming years. For its last performance model Falcon GT-F, Ford limited production to 500 cars — and what a specimen it turned out to be.
The Falcon GT-F features a 5.0-liter Boss supercharged V8 capable of 471 hp (351 kW) and 420 lb-ft of torque with six-speed manual or automatic transmission. Its bi-modal quad exhaust system hits the perfect note for vintage muscle car lovers, while its stealth stripe design makes it a throwback in exterior as well. Ford Falcons haven’t been seen in the U.S. since the 1970s, and this one won’t even live overseas now that Ford is pulling out of Australia.
3. Renault Mégane Coupé-Cabriolet
Renault doesn’t do business in the U.S., so browsing through the French automaker’s offerings is an exercise in what will never be. The Mégane Coupé and its convertible version would have their share of American boosters if the gates to a Renault dealership opened. A distinctive front and profile accompany a wide range of engine choices (one gasoline, three diesel) that start at $40,000 USD. In the most efficient diesel model, the European cycle quote was 57 mpg. California would go wild over this car.
4. Chevy Niva
Is there anything the Chevy Niva can’t do? In a venture with Russian-based Lada, GM has produced this crossover utility vehicle that comes equipped with a snorkel, roof lights, a silver skid plate, tow hooks and winch, and many other features that make it a candidate for ultimate off-road warrior. Released as a concept at the Moscow Motor Show in late August 2014, the Niva won’t make the cut in the U.S. due to safety restrictions and other issues. In other words, it would have to be softened up a bit to be marketed as a reasonably safe vehicle. Maybe it’s best staying in its pure, hard form in Russia.
5. Jaguar XF Sportbrake R-Sport
Ever seen a wagon that can shoot from 0-62 mph in 4.8 seconds or go 186 mph? Check off both boxes for the Jaguar XF Sportbrake R-Sport, a beast containing a 5.0-liter supercharged V8 under the hood. Where it’s sold, they call it a “bonnet.” That might seem like overkill in the power department for taking the family on a road trip, but wagons are joining every other segment as legitimately thrilling when done by the right automaker.
American consumers may fall back on the standard Jaguar XF R-Sport sedan with the same engine, but nothing emanates track-worthy domestic utility like the XF Sportbrake R-Sport.
6. Holden Special Vehicles Gen-F Maloo
When is the Chevy El Camino coming back? Though rumors about an El Camino revival abound, the vehicle hasn’t seen an assembly line in the U.S. since 1987. Out in Australia, where the idea of a coupe utility vehicle originated in 1932, the El Camino lives on in the Holden (GM) Ute. The Ute’s SSV Redline model offers 362 hp and 391 lb-ft of torque from its 6.0-liter V8.
The Holden Special Vehicles Ute, dubbed the Gen-F Maloo, serves up a good deal more menace with 425 hp and 405 lb-ft in the torque department. Like Ford in Australia, GM is ending production down under in the coming years. Vehicles like the HSV Maloo certainly weren’t the issue: a special supercharged HSV Ute sold out before it even hit the market.
7. Volkswagen Scirocco R
It can be considered a Golf with a pulse, a hot hatch with attitude, or something entirely different, but in any event the Volkswagen Scirocco R is not available in the U.S. Equipped with 276 horsepower to its front wheels, the Scirocco R trails the rear-wheel Golf R (290 hp) slightly in output while burning the Golf GTI (210 hp). Autoblog reviewers who have handled the Scirocco R abroad tend to gush about the car’s heart-racing character as much as its low-slung style. For comparison’s sake, the VW Scirocco R packs 24 more horses than the Ford Focus ST (252 hp), should that hot hatch come to mind, though the VW is a bit pricier.
8. Ford Troller T4
Here’s another unattainable gem from a car company headquartered in Detroit. Ford Brazil introduced the Troller T4 in May at a Sao Paolo exhibition and U.S. consumers have been coveting it ever since. It packs a 3.2-liter diesel engine matched to manual transmission, a two-panel sky-roof, air intake to connect a snorkel (underwater traveling in the T4 is a must), and a front guard and running boards integrated in the exterior design.
It will never get a closeup in the U.S. because Ford bought the Brazilian company Troller when this nasty utility vehicle was already in production. To conform to U.S. safety and emissions standards, it would need to be an entirely different automobile, and it’s one Ford will never build for the American market.