If you a purchaser of the latest in high-tech items but do not welcome the overnight line-up at an electronic store, you are perhaps very familiar with the process of waiting a special, desirable product. A case of days or weeks in many instances, there is also times where a specific item could be delayed for months or even years. Living in Canada, I remembered a five-year wait until satellite radio services were officially sold in the country.
For the case of some vehicles, the wait for certain vehicles to be officially welcomed to the United States has stretched decades. The Toyota Prius was first marketed in 1997 but would not be sold by the Japanese auto giant in North America until the 2000 calendar year. A similar, longer scenario played out in regards to the Nissan Cube that was brought to the United States after around a decade of enchanting its domestic market with the funky, odd shape. With the news of the world more accessible than ever, the word of a special vehicle spreads at the speed of light. For this reason, the game is up for automakers wanting to preserve the secret of concern cars and trucks limited to their selected marketplace.
Reflective of a more global auto market, the following vehicles are examples of how the North American car buyer has received a reward for patience:
First constructed in 1979, the Mercedes-Benz G-Class (earlier known as the G-Wagen) has been in continuous production since. A classic body-on frame, four-wheel drive sport utility vehicle, the G-Class was accepted by European buyers as well as by numerous militaries. With the United States love for large sport utility vehicles being especially strong during the late 1990s through to the 2000s, it made little sense why Mercedes-Benz chose to put priority to the M-Class crossover while keeping the G-Class out of the market. Eventually, Mercedes-Benz bowed to pressure by introducing the heavy sport utility vehicles to their North American line-up in 2002.
Though not officially going on sale in the United States until 2002, those with money and the desire for the G-Wagen or G-Class could acquire them through import channels. Some companies would import Mercedes-Benz G-Wagens and convert them to comply with American vehicle regulations. When Mercedes-Benz finally began importing the G-Class through their dealerships, those same buyers were actually saved money when comparing the Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price to the ‘gray market’ importer cost.
In 2013, the Mercedes-Benz G-Class has out-lasted the whole product line-up from the Hummer division as a pompous display of luxury and off-road capability in one vehicle. A Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG can also be selected containing 536 horsepower that can move the vehicle from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 5.3 seconds.
Ford Fiesta ST
For an auto company that started in the United States, it is surprising to see how many vehicles Ford Motor Company has produced for other markets but kept away from their domestic buyers. In 2005, Ford chose to present an all-new Focus to the European market while leaving North American buyers with the older Focus that wasn’t entirely revisited until the 2012 model year vehicle. 2005 was also the same year the Ford Fiesta ST debuted on European roads. In a marketplace where the Ford Mustang isn’t the name of performance for the Blue Oval, the need to improvise has created a variety of sport compact vehicles to fill the void. The side effect of creating some breath-taking small performance cars in Europe is the fact North American buyers will eventually see the vehicle and want it themselves.
Through the arrival of the Transit Connect, C-Max and the Transit van, Ford appears more open to sharing European-positioned vehicles with their stateside line-up. Under the weight of public outcry, the 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show came highlighted by the announcement that the next generation Ford Fiesta ST is coming to North America. A 2014 model vehicle, the upcoming Fiesta ST features a 1.6 liter EcoBoost engine producing 197 fun-loving horsepower. The 2014 Ford Fiesta ST will join another long-time holdout Focus ST as examples of European small car performance present in United States showrooms.
Scion (Toyota) iQ
While it’s clear that Europe and Japan are big microcar markets, the wide, long roads of North America have not always delivered the same amount of love for smaller vehicles. Referred to as microcar, city car and super compact, the vehicle segment has attracted several serious automakers with fuel economy standards set to more than double in some world regions by 2025. In 2007, Toyota debuted a concept called the iQ that entered production in late 2008. A 120.1-inch long vehicle powered by a small engine, the Toyota iQ began running about Japan and Europe in award-winning fashion.
Interesting enough, British luxury carmaker Aston Martin had reached out to Toyota so they can build their own iQ microcar. Called the Cygnet, the Aston Martin super compact car is significantly dressed up version of the iQ meant to satisfy their clientele. While it’s questionable whether the US auto market would accept a luxury city car let alone the general vehicle type, Toyota realizes that a growing influx of smaller vehicles into the North American marketplace is enough to sell the iQ.
Four years since being named the Car of the Year in Japan, the iQ can now roam United States and Canadian roads. Seeing the vehicle as more tempting as first-time new car buyers, Toyota decided to marry the iQ into the Scion brand. Priced at a nifty $15,385 starting price, the 2013 Scion iQ also sports super-efficient fuel economy numbers of 37 miles per gallon highway.
Audi TT RS
Kept away from the subcompact Audi A1 and such high performance offerings as the RS6 Avant, the North American market is understandably unnerved by being overlooked concerning certain models. However, as Audi has devoted a greater global focus to their product line, there seems to be some optimism for United States customers wanting something more from Volkswagen Group’s premium luxury division. With the Audi Q3 crossover all-but here, modern motoring times has also allowed many of the specialty RS vehicles to cross the Atlantic.
For the 2012 model year, the North American marketplace was treated to the hyper-powered edition of Audi’s entry-level TT sports car. The Audi TT RS had brought all 360 horsepower from its TFSI 2.5-liter engine to the United States after nearly three years in Europe. Since the TT RS was set loose on the Autobahn and other roadway in European locales, hardcore Audi fans stateside led a fierce campaign to bring the car over the ocean. When Audi posted a petition on their Facebook page with 11,500 respondents requesting the TT RS, the auto company finally concurred that the sports car belonged in the marketplace. Arriving only as the TT RS Coupe, this vehicle brought some life back to Audi’s smaller sports car.
The story of the Nissan GT-R’s arrival to the United States was a long one. Connected to the Nissan Skyline for nearly four decades, the GT-R badge was one of the Japanese leading supercars remaining as a long held secret for the land of the rising sun. Thanks to the enthusiastic launch of the compact tuner car market during the 1990s, the all-wheel driver, twin-turbocharged engined Nissan Skyline GT-R was vaunted into the world spotlight. So desired, versions of the Nissan Skyline GT-R was a product of various second-hand importing attempts. For the most part, the desired R-32 to R-34 variants of the Nissan Skyline GT-R built between 1989 to 2002 was illegitimately brought into the United States.
At last, the time had come in 2008 that the GT-R moniker grew into its own supercar. By doing so, the Nissan GT-R was free to enjoy its first legal trip to the United States. Incorporating the latest performance-oriented ATTESA E-TS all-wheel drive and originally the twin-turbo 3.8 liter V-6 engine that originally cranked out 480-horsepower, the Nissan GT-R became and continues to strike terror in a challenging Porsche 911 and Chevrolet Corvette. Producing a mammoth 545 horsepower for under 3 second launches from 0 to 60 miles per hour, the 2013 Nissan GT-R is very much the fans of the brawny Japanese supercar wanted to see (though the just under $100,000 base price may not be).
Which cars are you glad that you’re finally able to see in the States?
Information source: Audi AG, Daimler AG, Ford Motor Company, Nissan North America, Toyota Motor Corporation
Photo source: Chris Nagy, Daimler AG, Ford Motor Company, Nissan North America