It?s something that has happened to many of us whilst on holiday in Europe or other parts of the world, casting our eyes on a car we?ve never seen before and wondering why on earth it wasn?t introduced to the UK. We thought it would be fun to have a brief look at a few such cars. So here goes.
The BMW X3, Audi Q5, Range Rover Evoque (along with the Freelander before it) and Volkswagen Tiguan have turned out to be enormous success stories here in the UK - so why, when it comes to the premium compact SUV sector, hasn?t Mercedes got in on the act too? In Europe, the stylish GLK has been on sale since 2008 with various explanations mooted as to why it didn?t come to the UK. These range from the driveshaft design making the driver?s footwell cramped if converted to right-hand drive, to Mercedes not really feeling that there was a UK market for the GLK when the decision to produce it was made around 12 years ago. But after 7 years of absence, reports indicate that the new MkII GLK is poised to come to the UK from late 2015.
For Italians seeking limousine looks and an indulgent interior on a budget, the Lancia Thesis was their home-grown answer. Its design was quite divisive with its daring, theatrical lines and details. Lancia produced this leftfield executive model between 2002 and 2009, coinciding with the equally bold Vel Satis and Avantime offerings from Renault. These quirky French models were sold in the UK, so it?s a shame the Thesis wasn?t as it would have offered an additional, more passionate alternative to the ubiquitous and reserved German executive rivals.
The Japanese car maker?s best-selling MPV, the Alphard may not be the most attractive of cars yet its appeal is easily understood. Providing a high-class luxury interior for 6-8 people, you?ll find a fridge, a number of TV screens, reading lights and other comfort features. It?s a brilliant vehicle for families, even coming with remote-controlled sliding doors. The Alphard is available as an automatic with a choice of petrol engines along with a hybrid option; and for tackling slippery slopes or rough terrain it can also be fitted with Toyota?s E-Four 4WD system. If you spot an Alphard on UK roads, it will have been imported and the handy thing is, the Japanese drive on the right just like we do.
Citroën C-Elysée, Citroën C4 L and Peugeot 301
These were initially aimed at emerging markets such as North Africa, China and Russia, along with less affluent European countries like Greece, Turkey and Ukraine. You now also find them in Spain (where the C-Elysée is built), Portugal and France.
What are they? They are budget compact saloons, with small, economy-focussed engines. This French trio may not be the most dynamic, well-equipped and
refined, but that?s not what they?re about. Rather like the Dacia Sandero and Logan MCV, or the Perodua Myvi, they make motoring accessible at a much more
affordable price. SEAT sell the Mii in the UK and VW sell the Up!, so there?s perhaps a market for these budget French cars, too.
Produced for their domestic market in Japan, the Veriza is slightly taller and boxier than the firm?s Demio model (which they call the ?Mazda2? over here in the UK). In the same way that Ford sells the Fusion as a more practical, almost mini-MPV-like alternative to the Fiesta, Mazda sells the Veriza on its functional merits. It?s available over there in front-wheel or electronic four-wheel drive, and only one engine is offered ? a 1.5-litre petrol. It has a usefully small turning circle and we think the latest facelifted version looks rather cute.
Ford F150 SVT Raptor
This enormous pickup-truck looks almost as big as some houses and the F-Series is actually the best-selling vehicle in the world, having worn that crown in previous years too. We have a soft spot for the mighty Raptor version, which is produced by Ford?s Special Vehicles Team and is available with a 411bhp, 6.2-litre V8 engine. It?s thirsty as you would expect and its sheer size is controversial to some, but when you consider that it can be driven off-road at speeds of around 90mph, it?s really rather amazing. With massively modified and fascinatingly clever suspension, along with huge off-road tyres allowing it to cross almost anything, it?s incredible to think that it ?only? costs around $45,000 dollars - which is far less than many less capable SUVs and pickups. It probably wouldn?t be able to fit through many UK streets, though.
Produced for emerging markets like India and Indonesia and partly built in Thailand, the Brio has a 1.2-litre i-VTEC petrol engine producing 88ps, can be bought as an automatic and has won recent JD Power awards for its quality.
And there we have it, seven cars of many that were never brought to the UK; it almost makes you feel robbed. But on the plus side, the cars we have got have got us through.
- On: 07 October 2014
- By: CarShop
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