The large car craze in the United States is at the end of its life cycle, at least we hope. Gas prices are still a bit high, but they will need to rise just a bit more in order to really bring the small car back into our thoughts again.
That being said, some of the most popular cars on the market today were once considered way too small to be safe. Take the Honda Fit and Toyota Yaris for example. The three-door Yaris is a pretty popular car, but many still find it to be the size of a shoebox rather than the size of a proper car. The Fit is a little bigger, but Americans still find it a bit too small for their tastes. Maybe the seats just aren’t wide enough.
Modern safety laws and design have helped these small cars earn five-star safety ratings, but size still matters in some people’s minds. It’s going to take a few very special small cars, and even a few minivans and wagons, to shake America’s love with large, oversized vehicles. Here are the top ten cars that aren’t available in the United States.
Hit the jump to see the list.
The old A-Class was just terrible. It drove like a pile of garbage and it had a problem with staying on its wheels. Mercedes got the hint and updated the A-Class in 2009 and now, it’s the sort of car that anybody would want parked in their garage or outside of their home, just so long as nobody scratches it.
The A-Class has the typical boxy look, but it’s the smooth curves and Mercedes-ness that makes it truly distinctive. At 152.9-inches long, the A-Class is more than a foot shorter than the Volkswagen Golf , but the wheelbase is just 0.4-inches shorter than the German hatchback. That gives the A-Class a sort of pushed out look.
The car is available in six different four-cylinder engines, three gas and three diesel. The A-Class can get as little as 82 horsepower or as much as 193 horsepower. The smaller of the two engines can get around 52 miles per gallon, while the larger one can get about 40mpg. Amazingly, the 193 horsepower A200 Turbo is very quick and handles quite well for a tall looking car. Plus, it’s a Mercedes , so it should impress.
Though the car is a bit expensive it’s very good and ready for the big stage in the United States. Just keep the price down or we might as well buy the C-Class .
Love it - The great looks and the fantastic motor in the A200 Turbo equal some serious fun.
Leave it - The car is a bit pricey and Mercedes is still suffering from poor customer service and build quality.
Renault hasn’t sold cars in the United States for quite some time, but the Twingo has always been admired from afar.
The little hatchback has always been a fun car to drive and now, it’s been upgraded. Oh boy.
The new Twingo RS 133 is a stripped down version of the normal Twingo. It comes with a 1.6-liter 133 horsepower motor that helps the car hit 60 miles per hour in 8.7 seconds. The little car has a top speed of 125 mph, fast enough for a car of this size. It might not sound like a whole lot, but if you ever get a chance to drive it, be prepared for a massive smile to come across your face.
Sadly, you won’t be able to get air conditioning, so if you live in the south, this car might not be a smart buy. Of course, with a fun little engine and a lightweight body, Renault’s little RS 133 is so much fun it doesn’t matter how hot it gets in the cabin.
While the Twingo is a lot of fun, we are not quite sure America is ready for it. Many will find it to be unsafe on the highway, so it will probably be driven by city dwellers and hot hatch lovers. Still, we would love to see this little French hatchback on American roads.
Love it - What a motor and what a car. If you love to drive fast, this is the machine for you.
Leave it - No air conditioner and no normal seat belts, instead, you get racing harnesses. Not exactly a practical car.
Minivans, or people carriers as they are called, are nothing special, but GM-owned Vauxhall has made a pretty spectacular one. The seven-seat Zafira looks fantastic and is based on the platform of the smaller Opel Astra .
The best market for this minivan is Germany, followed by Great Britain, France, and Italy. We think that this van would sell like hotcakes if it were available in the United States. It looks better than the Grand Caravan and whatever else is out there. Normally we would be able to give you a few more examples, but who really cares about minivans?
Love it - Great looks and more personality than all the minivans in the U.S combined, even the wacky Sienna .
Leave it - It doesn’t offer the fancy seating arrangements as the Grand Caravan and minivans still aren’t a cool way to get around.
The European hatchback has an aggressively sculpted body and a wide looking nose. Under the hood is a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 261 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. Transmission choices include a six-speed manual or a seven-speed dual-clutch DSG.
Chances are we won’t see this car anytime soon, as VW doesn’t want to hurt sales of the GTI .
Love it - A better engine than the base Scirocco and far more fun. Perfect looks as well.
Leave it - There is a bit of oversteer and the cost is high. Plus, the new GTI is just as good for most people.
Some have called it ugly, but we love it for its fun looks. Alfa Romeo’s little hatchback is a wonderful piece of design inside and out that only the Italians could create.
The car’s wacky name comes from the first two letters in Milan and Torino, the two cities in which the car is built. There are some design elements from the 8C and that is definitely a good thing, as the supercar is one of the best looking things that has graced the roads.
The MiTo is like the Mini, but with that extra flair that makes Italian things awesome.
The Alfa is offered with many different engine choices, including a few diesels and gas powered small displacement four-cylinders. The power can range from 78hp to 153hp and each is connected to a six-speed manual box.
Love it - Those looks and the soul and passion that go into every Alfa.
Leave it - Those looks might not appeal to everybody and it does cost quite a bit.
There is no denying that this is one of the best-looking cars that have ever come out of Italy. It’s sad that people in America are mostly unaware of such beauty. It might not be the best driving car, but with those looks, who cares?
Power comes from three different engines. The bottom of the range is a 2.2-liter gas four-cylinder, while the middle motor is a 2.4-liter JTDM diesel. The top of the range is a 256 horsepower V6 with four-wheel drive.
The handling is average and there is a bit too much body roll in the corners. Once again, though, if you want a great driving car, buy something else. If you want something that will look fantastic parked outside of your house, get the Alfa .
Love it - The best looking car on the road and the interior of the best Italian villa.
We love the VXR line and until Vauxhall launches the next-generation Astra VXR, the hot Corsa will have to do. Our only hope to get the hot hatch was from Saturn, but the company was shut down before we could get our hands on it. Thanks a lot, GM.
The car is front-wheel drive and has 189 horsepower from a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. That motor is connected to a six-speed manual and 0-60 miles per hour is dealt with in just 6.8 seconds. All that power and around 35.8 miles per gallon, what’s not to love?
The chassis is tuned for performance so this hot Corsa is fun in the bends. It also has Recaro seats to hold you in place.
Love it - A fun motor and magical handling, plus a cheap price tag.
Leave it - A bit hard on the road and it is a bit small for U.S interstates.
It’s no secret that the Focus sold in Europe is far better than the Focus that is sold in the U.S. Even the base diesel Focus is better, but that’s not the reason why we put the little Ford in seventh place.
It’s the RS that really makes the Focus fun for everybody.
The new 2010 Focus RS follows a long line of hot Fords, going back to the Escort RS1600. Yet, no previous hot Ford has ever looked so radical or been so fast. The new hatch features a 2.5-liter inline five from Volvo , yet the Ford version has a turbocharger and 300 horsepower.
The power is pushed out of the front wheels, which does result in a bit of torque steer, but who cares. Hold the wheel steady and floor it, what could go wrong?
Love it - The king of the hot hatch is back. A great motor and decent handling.
Leave it - Oversteer and torque steer are a plenty in this car. It might also cost a lot if it came to the U.S.
Sure, we have the Si, but it’s nowhere near this thing. Honda sells more cars in North America than it does anywhere else. So are we left with just a baby Type-R?
Honda gave up on three-door Civics in the U.S after the old 2002-2005 Si hatchback. That car was greeted with minimal sales, but in Europe, the three-door design has grown massively. The latest Type-R gets a 2.0-liter engine with 222 horsepower and 18-inch wheels.
It also looks fantastic. Those triangular exhausts and the oversized Brembo front brakes make the car look like a Jetson-spec spaceship.
Weight is key with the Type-R. The Japanese hot hatch is fitted with aluminum to cut down the pounds and there is a big wing on the back to keep the car planted. The price is a bit steeper than the Si, but it’s so worth it.
Love it - The most reliable and one of the best hot hatches on the road. It has a great engine that loves to be revved. Plus it looks like a futuristic rocket.
Leave it - The Focus RS is faster and the old Civic Type-R was a bit better to drive.
This was a tough call, as some of our favorite cars are coming to the United States shortly. We would have easily ranked the Fiat 500 number one, but reports are indicating that it might come stateside, so we had to find something else.
The BMW M5 Estate is the best way to solve your midlife crisis. It can take the kids to school, go grocery shopping, and then blow the doors off of a Ford Mustang . What’s not to love here? Sure, the wagon concept is something that has died out in the U.S and we all have migrated to large, slow, and dull SUVs. Yet, just imagine how fun it would be to own a family wagon with a V10 and 507 horsepower.
There is no faster way to get to your summer vacation than with a BMW M5 Touring.
We know that this version of the M5 Touring will soon be replaced by the new-generation and we are also sure that the new model won’t be coming here either. Neither will the Audi S6 Avant or the newest-generation of the Mercedes E-Class AMG Estate .
Sure, many will wonder why a wagon got the top spot and not the Focus RS or some other hot hatch. The reason is very simple. The BMW M5 Touring is so much faster and can even haul a family and a puppy dog.
Love it - Fast, great handling and can fit your kids and your dog. Nothing is better for everyday life.
Leave it - BMW styling isn’t for everybody.
There we go, ten cars that would make America a better place. Not really, but they will make our roads a bit better. We won’t have to look over or get stuck behind GMC Yukons or wonder why anybody would buy the Ford Excursion. Instead, we can all have serious fun with the Renault Twingo, Focus RS and the Vauxhall Corsa VXR. How much better would it be to take the kids to school in an M5 Touring or the Vauxhall Zafira? Hopefully one day we will get at least a few of these amazing products in the land of the free, or at least the BMW.