It’s simply human nature: different areas of the world have vastly differing likes, dislikes, and needs in their everyday lives, all of which are informed by highly diverse cultures. Case in point – the Mercedes-Benz A-Class pictured above isn’t sold in the US because of its limited versatility and space, yet the model thrives as one of Europe’s most popular subcompacts. As such, car companies realize that to turn a profit, they need to tailor a product specifically to the region in which it’s sold.
The modern auto industry may have misjudged the American palate, restricting some of the world’s greatest cars exclusively for the European market, and leaving us Americans only to salivate in agony.
But at this point, all we can say is, “Hey, We Want that Car!”
1. 2013 BMW ALPINA B5 Sedan
Though the famed German moniker has granted the US access to their ALPINA B7, BMW has unfortunately starved the American market of one of the most dynamic versions of the 5-series sedan, the ALPINA B5. ALPINA began as an aftermarket tuning facility for high-end BMWs in the 1960s and has since grown to become one of BMW group’s closest partners, providing factory-authorized upgrades on a whole host of BMW models. The ALPINA brand aims to stay true to BMW’s “Ultimate Driving Machine” slogan while upping the ante for both luxury and performance, and they certainly achieved their goal with the ALPINA B5.
Through the use of upgraded turbochargers and a signature ALPINA exhaust system, the 5-series’ 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 jumps from 400 horsepower to 532 ponies in the B5, while torque increases from 450 lb.-ft to 538 lb.-ft. Not to mention that the 0-60 time drops to 4.7 seconds. The annoying 155 mph top speed limiter, found even on the latest M5, is eliminated and takes the B5’s top speed to a cool 198 mph. Appearance-wise, the B5 sees a lower suspension compared with the standard 5-series, gorgeous 20-inch ALPINA-specific wheels, and a retooled interior, sporting a custom ALPINA steering wheel, a simplified instrument cluster, and new wood trim with a much richer finish.
If the B5 were released into the US market, it seems as if it would occupy the considerable gap between the civilized 550i sedan and the absolutely behemoth M5, something buyers are sure to appreciate. But until then, we’ll simply have to fantasize.
Take a look at TFLcar Mashup between BMW 535i and the Audi A6 3.0T:
2. 2013 Land Rover Defender
Using a design that has remained virtually unchanged since the 1940s, the Land Rover Defender is definitely one of the most iconic vehicles in the history of the automobile. The original Land Rover, first conceived in 1947 by a British car designer who wanted to mimic the design of the American Jeep, shines through undeniably even in the 2013 iteration of the Defender, one of the most rugged and capable SUVs on the planet. Again, however, this Defender is not available on the US market, most likely due to its complete lack of modern safety features, such as airbags, ABS brakes, and stability control. But who really needs those when traversing boulders and ravines in the great outdoors?
The Euro-spec Defender is currently available in either the 90 or 110 wheelbase, the former of which is a two-door “station wagon” and the latter of which is pictured above. All Defenders come with a 2.2-liter 4-cylinder diesel, producing a modest 120 horsepower and 265 lb.-ft of torque, allowing the vehicle to reach a top speed of 90 mph. What the Defender lacks in power it most definitely makes up for in off-road capability. It has the goods: a tried-and-true all-time 4WD system, a rugged body-on frame platform, and a stalwart 6-speed manual gearbox, all prepared to deliver maximum traction for the most challenging of conditions. What might be most unbelievable, however, is the £22,350, or $34,000 base price, right on par with the similarly capable American Jeep Wrangler.
The Defender isn’t currently available on the US market. It was imported to the US until 1998 when the car was deemed too unsafe for American roads. Plenty of examples still exist in basically the same form as pictured above, so there’s still hope if you simply can’t live without a classic Defender.
You can console yourself for now with this TFLcar Jeep Wrangler video:
3. 2013 Nissan X-TRAIL
A similar but more versatile vehicle than the new Pathfinder, the Nissan X-TRAIL is the Japanese automaker’s answer to the likes of Land Rover’s LR4. A crossover with 5-passenger utility, copious amounts of cargo room, and an 4×4 system that’s ready to play, the X-TRAIL is a super versatile SUV that is ready both on and off the tarmac. Despite this, the Xterra currently takes the place of the X-TRAIL in the American market, and though the Xterra offers immense off-road capability, the X-TRAIL’s better on-road sophistication would probably win buyers over better.
The current X-TRAIL is available in two diesel engine configurations: buyers can choose a 148-horsepower 2.0 liter diesel with an automatic transmission, or a 2.0 liter diesel with manual transmission that raises the power to 171 bhp. Best of all, the 148-horsepower configuration can deliver nearly 40 mpg on the highway, numbers unheard of for any American SUV. On the interior, the X-TRAIL’s bears much resemblance to the past generation Nissan Pathfinder, with a vertical, masculine center stack and no-frills plastic all around, though it still appears warm and comfortable. Exterior styling isn’t astounding, though it does convey a sense of utility and masculinity, with bulging rear taillights and nicely flared wheel wells.
Considering its impressive fuel economy, great on-road performance, and decent starting price, at right around $35,000, the X-TRAIL would most definitely do well in the American market among customers looking for a a lot of utility in their SUV. With that said, as Nissan continues to rework their American vehicle lineup, we may very well see a similar variation of the X-TRAIL coming our way. Only time will tell.
Please enjoy this fun TFLcar off-road review of the 2012 Nissan Xterra: