The U.S. makes some pretty bonkers automobiles. Some ridiculously good ones, too, like the Tesla Model S, Cadillac CTS-V, or the new Ford Mustang. As one of the world’s largest auto markets, it’s easy to forget that we also live without some awesome cars.
Many regions — Europe, especially — have flourishing enthusiast communities that automakers are more than happy to supply with toys. However, due to factors like emissions standards, safety regulations, or simply a lack of a strong business case, many of these cars don’t see American shores. And that’s a great pity.
So while America has some great stalwarts to fall back on, there are still many vehicles we wish we were afforded the opportunity to indulge in. For trucks and SUVs, we’re pretty well covered. For sports cars, we’re pretty much there. Wagons and hatches? Not so much.
Genuine enthusiast cars? Yes and no, depending on whom you talk to. We took the liberty of trying to fill in some of the gaps in the American market. Check out what we came up with, and hop over to our Facebook page and let us know how we did.
1. Golf GTD Sportwagen
The Volkswagen Golf family is one of those rare instances in which the base models are as good as the high-end ones. There are simply no bad driving experiences to be had at the wheel of a Golf, though America might be missing out on one of the best: the GTD, and more specifically, the wagon.
This car takes the positives from both the GTI and the TDI and infuses them into one vehicle. The result is an exceptionally efficient, high-performance, family friendly hauler that seemingly doesn’t have a downside, short of it not being put on sale in the United States. Volkswagen, if you’re listening, this is the diesel Golf we want.
2. Land Rover Defender
The Jeep Wranger is the near-ubiquitous choice of off-roader for the American consumer, and for good reason. It’s affordable, readily available, and its classic appearance commands the respect that its heritage deserves. Across the pond, that niche is filled with the Land Rover Defender. While Mercedes and Land Rover place extra emphasis on luxury, the Defender remains the holdout as an off-roader first and a swanky all-wheel-drive palace in a distant second. Like the Wranger, the Defender hasn’t strayed far from its roots, but it sadly hasn’t strayed into American dealerships, either.
3. Audi RS6
Though it looks rather unassuming from the outside, even in bright red, the Audi RS6 is among the most potent sleeper cars on the market — outside of America, that is. Zero to 62 is dealt with in 3.9 seconds, as the RS6’s ferocious twin-turbocharged V8 lays out all 560 horsepower to all four corners. For more civilized driving, the engine will disable select cylinders to shore up its fuel economy numbers. For those outside America who feel the need to drop the kids off at school as quickly as possible, the RS6 is certainly worthy of your consideration.
4. Subaru Levorg
Consider the Levorg Subaru’s answer to the new WRX hatch that never was. The company’s decision to yank the five-door WRX format drew ire from Subbie purists, but the Levorg wagon is alive and well in other regions. It bears the same face as the new WRX and STI models here, but with the long-roof model that enthusiasts pine for.
5. Jaguar XF Sportbrake
A Jag wagon. We needn’t say more, but we will anyway. Abroad, the Jaguar XF — so far the brand’s most popular model — is available in both sedan and long-roof form. The guts, interior, and aesthetics are all largely the same, but the Jaguar XF Sportbrake offers so much more than its little sedan sibling. Wagons were once a lucrative business in the U.S., but sadly that isn’t the case anymore. It could be, provided companies like Jaguar take that first step of actually getting them here.
6. Holden Ute SSV Redline
The Chevrolet SSR experiment ended in a bad way, but had GM imported the Holden Ute instead, things might have turned out for the better. While we get the Holden Commodore in the form of the Chevy SS, there hasn’t been a viable El Camino replacement available Stateside, especially one with a fire-breathing, supercharged V8. Paired with a six-speed manual, we can’t see reason why this wouldn’t go over well.
7. Renault Megane 275 Trophy
America’s hot hatch game is heating up with the impending arrival of the Ford Focus RS and Volkswagen Golf R, but we still have a long way to go before the domestic market is on par with some certain European competition for super speedy hatchbacks. The Renault Megane 275 — which, unsurprisingly, boasts 275 horsepower — could go a long way in boosting America’s hatch-friendly image while throwing another player into the ring that’s so far really only dominated by two vehicles.
8. Morgan Aero 8
Morgan has become renowned for its dedication to traditional styling while still producing some of the greatest drivers’ cars on the road today. Though we do see some limited Morgan vehicles available in the U.S., the Aero 8 is not — a pity, as it represents the apex of Morgan’s incredible portfolio. Its timeless style is accentuated by its classic interior, and the 367-horsepower V8 brings the revered British motoring experience into the 21st century.
9. Toyota Century
Japan is a country steeped in tradition, and nothing quite says traditional like the Toyota Century, a Japan-only luxo-barge that is also Toyota’s only V12-powered consumer-grade vehicle. Comfort and prestige are are paramount here, and the car’s appearance has hardly changed over the past … well, decades. Though it wears a Toyota badge, this car would put most Lexus offerings to shame, as it plays more in the league of the Phantom and Mulsanne than the LS. Sure, Toyota might sell like three of these per year — it costs about $100,000 — but is it lust-worthy? Absolutely.
10. Volkswagen Scirocco
The car before you now, though it shares the same name, is a completely different from the VW Scirocco that was once available to American consumers. That’s both a good and bad thing. It’s bad because the old Scirocco was — and still is — an incredible car to behold, but it’s good because the modern Scirocco is no slouch, either. It is, however, now a Europe-only hatch that’s as every bit good as its predecessor, especially in its R-flavored trim.