QOTD: What Foreign Cars Should Be Sold In North America?

Doug DeMuro
by Doug DeMuro

I recently returned from a week-long visit to Europe, the world leader in diesel hatchbacks and cigarettes. There, as I always do when I arrive in Europe, I came face to face with a stark reality: there are still human beings driving around in Peugeots.

And in fact, I was one of them. I visited the tiny island nation of Malta, a former British colony located somewhere between Sicily and Africa, and I rented a Peugeot 308CC. Although I cannot be sure, I believe this stands for either “Coupe Convertible” or “Chimpanzee Cerebellum.”

Anyway, this ended up being a gigantic mistake on Malta, because it turns out that the entire place is no larger than a bathroom trash can, whereas the 308CC is a bit Colossally Corpulent. Not by American standards, of course; the 308CC isn’t even large enough to be seen by the naked eye of people who are driving Escalades and G-Wagens. They would have to use a telescope; the same one that prevents them from running over the poors.

But by Maltese standards this thing was huge, and I quickly regretted my decision. I especially regretted my decision when I began driving the vehicle on Malta’s UK-style, right-hand drive streets. Imagine it: there I am, shifting with my left hand for the first time ever, and at the same time trying to pilot a boat of a bad-visibility convertible down streets that were barely large enough for one single subcompact Ford Ka. It was such a bad situation that the woman at the Avis counter said – I am not kidding here – that the vehicle’s rental insurance policy covers everything “except the mirrors.”

And then, after a while, I realized something: although this car sucks for Malta, it would be great in North America.

Think about it: the 308CC gets excellent fuel economy – or at least the diesel-powered one I drove did. I know this because they gave it to me with half a tank and told me to return it with half a tank, but instead I drove it around Malta for three days and returned it with a quarter tank because I believe, after exhaustive study, that the entire country does not possess a single gas station.

It’s also got a lot of cool features, like an infotainment system, and automatic windshield wipers, and an iPod hookup, and a power-operated top, and a scary-looking lion logo on the steering wheel, and some very cool Peugeot Center Caps, one of which I stole.

And sure, it isn’t fast, but let’s be honest here: the kind of people interested in a convertible that has a lot of features and gets good gas mileage don’t really care about performance. You could give these people a 308 CC and strap in the same engine that powers a paper airplane (air) and they would still be happy.

But here I was driving it around Malta, a dusty island nation where the largest vehicle is a 1980s Toyota pickup that appears to have run over an entire flock of sheep, in this vehicle that simply didn’t belong there. It belonged in North America.

And that’s when I started thinking: what other vehicles belong in North America?

One obvious answer is the Volkswagen Amarok, which is this midsize pickup truck that appears to be roughly the same level of “large” and “competent” as the Chevrolet Colorado. I saw a well-equipped Amarok in Istanbul, a land of no pickup trucks, and couldn’t help but wonder why this vehicle isn’t also sold in America, a land where one brand sells more of one truck in four months than Volkswagen sells overall vehicles in the entire year.

Of course, the Amarok would have to be tuned up a bit if they wanted to sell it in America, since the base-level one has only 120 horsepower. This makes it roughly as fast as volcanic lava.

Another good contender: the Audi A5 Sportback. Have you heard of this thing? Imagine, if you will, a four-door version of the Audi A5, with a hatchback like the A7. Now, I fully admit that the segmentation of the luxury car world has grown to a point where things have gotten ridiculous, but Audi has largely stayed away from that stuff. And why? BMW would sell a Gran Coupe version of a tennis shoe, so why shouldn’t Audi?

And here’s the crazy part: although BMW’s proliferation of Gran Turismos and Gran Coupes has been only within the last year or two, Audi started selling the A5 Sportback in 2009! In other words: they created a cool new segment five years ago, and then they let BMW take all the glory.

But these are just a few examples, so now I’m posing the question to you: what cars should be sold in North America? And some guidance: avoid obvious answers of cars you want to see in North America, like some high-performance sports car or a crazy hot hatch. Focus instead on vehicles that would actually do well; vehicles that actually have a purpose; vehicles that would actually find success on our great continent. Like the Curious Coyote.

Doug DeMuro
Doug DeMuro

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  • Slow_Joe_Crow Slow_Joe_Crow on Apr 06, 2015

    Would this include used cars? I've wanted a Peugeot 106 Rallye for years. Also big Citroen station wagons and small MPVs like the Picasso or the early Fiat Multipla with the bug eyes. I also want some big stuff, a Ford Transit Crew Van and a Land Rover Defender.

  • Blaz Blaz on Apr 07, 2015

    You should get the new Suzuki Vitara.

  • 3-On-The-Tree Lou_BCsame here I grew up on 2-stroke dirt bikes had a 1985 Yamaha IT200 2-strokes then a 1977 Suzuki GT750 2-stroke 750 streetike fast forward to 2002 as a young flight school Lieutenant I bought a 2002 suzuki Hayabusa 1300 up in Huntsville Alabama. Still have that bike.
  • Milton Rented one for about a month. Very solid EV. Not as fun as my Polestar, but for a go to family car, solid. Practical EV ownership is only made possible with a home charger.
  • J Love mine, but the steering wheel blocks dashboard a bit, can't see turn signals nor headlights icons. They could use the upper corners of the screen for the turn signals. Mileage is much lower than shown too, disappointing
  • Aja8888 NO!
  • OrpheusSail I once did. My first four cars were American made, and through an odd set of circumstances surrounding a divorce, I wound up with a '95 Nissan Maxima which was fourteen years old and had about 150,000 miles on it.It was drove better, had an amazing engine, and was more reliable than any of my American cars. This included a new '95 GMC pickup that went through five alternators in under two years while the dealership insisted that there was no underlying electrical problem while they tried to run the clock on the warranty.That was the end of 'buy American'. I've bought from Honda and VW since, and I'll consider just about anything except American now.