From compact city cars to luxury SUVs: there’s a new car for everyone. But that doesn’t stop us peering across the English Channel to gaze longingly at some of the European cars that we’re denied access to in the UK. Here are 20 Euro motors we wish were sold on these shores.
Renault Megane Grand Coupe
When is a compact saloon not a compact saloon? When it’s a Grand Coupe. The name makes no sense, but there’s no denying the Renault Megane Grand Coupe is a good looking saloon. It actually boasts a larger boot than its hatchback counterpart, but while it will be sold in 20 countries worldwide, UK buyers will be denied the privilege of driving the attractive Renault.
Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio manual
We still have to pinch ourselves about this one. A genuinely handsome, rear-wheel-drive Alfa Romeo with a top speed that puts it at the top table of the supercar elite. Thanks to the small matter of 500 raging horses, the Giulia Quadrifoglio will hit 191mph, all for a shade under £60,000. Yes, it will be available in the UK, but the cost of converting to right-hand drive means we won’t be getting the manual transmission. Shame.
The original Mehari is a bit of cult vehicle within Citroen circles, so this beach buggy for the new millennium has a lot to live up to. The signs are good: a potential range of 125 miles, 70mph top speed and a maintenance-free body are amongst the highlights. It’s already on sale in France, but a UK-launch is unlikely. On the plus side, it’ll be the coolest car at the holiday rental compound.
The Citroen C6, Renault 25, Peugeot 605, Renault Vel Satis and Peugeot 607, to name but a few – lessons from history warning French carmakers that shifting big cars is a big ask in the UK. Which helps to explain why the Renault Talisman isn’t available here. Nobody would buy it and it would depreciate faster than you could say ‘financial ruin’, but that doesn’t stop us wanting one.
Citroen C4 Aircross
You might remember the Citroen C-Crosser, which was built by Mitsubishi and based on the Outlander. The C4 Aircross follows a similar principle, albeit based on the smaller Mitsubishi ASX. We rather like its styling, which presents a more grown-up alternative to the C4 Cactus. Unlike the prickly one, the C4 Aircross is sans Airbumps, but it does offer the option of four-wheel drive.
Spend some time across the Channel and it won’t be long before you stumble across a Fiat Freemont, especially in its native Italy. Actually, that’s a bit of a moot point, because the Freemont is based on the all-american Dodge Journey. It was unveiled back in 2007, so it’s hardly a spring chicken. And, if we’re honest, we’re more than happy to let this one stay in continental Europe.
Dacia Lodgy Stepway
The Dacia Lodgy offers space for up to seven people and traditional Dacia value for money. OK, so the Stepway version does inflate the price, but it looks a million Euros. Practical, wipe-clean motoring for a bargain price. Where do we sign? Oh, we can’t. Shame.
The Renault Espace helped to establish the people carrier segment in the early 1980s and it soon became part of the UK furniture. The fourth generation Espace offers styling that doesn’t say to the world you’ve given up on life and are well past your prime. In fact, it looks more appealing than the majority of crossovers. Being denied access to the Espace just isn’t playing fair.
We had a huge amount of respect for the Vauxhall Ampera and Chevrolet Volt range-extender vehicles. Sadly, while the Ampera and Bolt have been axed in UK, the Opel Ampera is still listed for sale in Germany. It will be replaced by the Ampera-e, which is based on the new Chevy Bolt, as sold in America. Will it come to the UK as a Vauxhall? Don’t bank on it.
Over 50 years, some 40 million Toyota Corollas have rolled off the production line, making it more popular than a Justin Bieber free download. It’s still available in some European markets and we’d like to be offered it, if only to say “no thank you.”
Volvo S60 Polestar
We’re fortunate enough to be offered the Volvo V60 Polestar, but the S60 is strictly off limits. This is due in part to the fact that we prefer wagons to saloons, but there’s something delightfully old-school about the S60 Polestar. Avoid the Rebel Blue paint job and it’s one of the world’s ultimate sleepers.
Skoda Rapid Spaceback ScoutLine
On character count alone, this is one of the biggest names in Europe. The Skoda Rapid Spaceback Scoutline could be the Rapid you always dreamed of. Don’t let the looks deceive you, because this particular Skoda has about as much off-road ability as a Mini Moke, but it looks wonderfully cool in Pistachio Green.
The Camry made its UK debut in 1984, soon establishing itself as the flagship of the Toyota range. It majored on equipment and refinement, but there was a Sport model, complete with 2.2-litre 16v engine. The Camry lived on until 2004, but hasn’t been seen in the UK since. We’re probably alone in our desire to see it make a return. Yeah, thought so…
Lada Granta Sport
Who doesn’t want a budget-priced compact saloon with sporting credentials? The Lada Granta Sport is powered by a distinctly old-school 1.6-litre 16v engine, delivering a distinctly old school 0-62 mph time of 9.5 seconds. For some reason we’re really keen to drive it. We have visions of being transported back to the 1990s. And that’s a good thing.
When Hyundai UK dropped the Veloster from sale, we felt like the rug was being swept from beneath our feet. Actually, that’s a lie, because we don’t really miss it. That said, the turbocharged version was rather brisk, while the 2+1 door configuration made it rather quirky. The Hyundai i30 Turbo is OK, up to a point, but it lacks the showroom appeal of the Veloster.
Renault Clio Estate
Small estate cars aren’t hugely popular in the UK, with the Skoda Fabia and SEAT Ibiza representing the best of a rather niche breed. But we feel we’re missing out by not having the Renault Clio Estate on sale in the UK. One for Nicole’s more practical sister, perhaps?
The Toyota Highlander is a seven-seat SUV built at Toyota’s plant in Indiana, along with its assembly plant in China. It’s not widely available in Europe, but customers in Moldova and Ukraine are able to get their hands on Toyota’s “sophisticated” SUV. We’d like a single Highlander to be sold in the UK, just to enable us to use the ‘there can be only one’ gag.
Suzuki Jimny Ranger
Is this the best Suzuki Jimny we never got? The Jimny Ranger features a towbar, a partition grille between the cargo space and cabin, along with a flexible load space liner, effectively transforming the little 4×4 into a two-seater dog carrier. It’s available in Germany and comes complete with Ranger decals. Best alert Yogi Bear.
Fiat Tipo saloon
While UK buyers will be able to buy to the Fiat Tipo as a hatchback or estate car, we’re being denied the compact saloon. Taking into account the fact that small estates are a hard sell in the UK, we think the Tipo saloon looks rather stylish. A budget alternative to the Audi A3 saloon and Mercedes-Benz CLA?
The Indian-market Renault Kwid is set to enter Europe and there’s every chance it could arrive in the UK as a Dacia. Remarkably, prices in India start at the equivalent of £2,945, so it could present astonishing value for money in the UK. A decent addition to the Dacia range? We think so.