Sometimes I think we forget how lucky we are the huge choice of desireable cars we have. In North America they seem somewhat restricted in choice. Here is a Canadian article from yesterday's newspaper. (I know it mentions the roc but its only in passing so thats why its in the other marque section)
North Shore News - Vancouver Canada
North America needs these hot cars
Brendan McAleer, North Shore News
Published: Friday, July 10, 2009
All right, I'll just come right out and say it: I want a Ford Focus.
Yes, I'll happily give up the keys to my modified, 300 horsepower WRX with all the time, effort and money I've spent tweaking it (and all the money I've spent paying professionals to undo the tweaks), and drive away in a Focus.
You're surprised? Well, just to be clear, I'm not talking about any old econobox Ford here. No, I'm talking about the Ford Focus RS, which you can't get here. Not yet anyway, (he added hopefully, with an expression of wistful longing and a large measure of pointless optimism).
The Ford Focus RS, a fun-to-drive hatchback pumped up with 300 horsepower, tops columnist Brendan McAleer's list of cars that should be made available in North America right now.
The RS is currently at the top of my list, but idly leafing through any Euro car magazine reveals even more great cars that manufacturers just won't sell in North America.
FORD FOCUS RS
So let's start with this one, shall we? First of all, the RS is based on the excellent Euro-Focus, which is pretty well universally regarded as the most fun-to-drive hatchback you can get across the pond. It makes the VW Golf look as pointless and stodgy as . . . well . . . golf, I suppose.
Ford takes this spirited platform and then pumps it full of eight Barry-Bondses-worth of anabolic steroids and four Lenny-Bruces-worth of amphetamines. Its enormous exhaust pipes make the Chunnel look like a juicebox bendy straw. Its rear spoiler creates so much downforce, it can actually move the Earth out of orbit. Its wheelarches are flared in the same way that Bruce Banner's pants are flared when he changes into the Hulk. Three-hundred horsepower. REVO-knuckle suspension. Terrier-like reflexes and attack-dog savagery.
And what kind of Focus do we get here? Oh look, a fancy iPod dock. Well, that's just perfect for my Anne Murray playlist, but I'll happily go without if you'll just bring the RS here, Ford. Do it. Do it now.
Don't feel like wrestling with 300 rampaging horses constantly trying to wrest the steering wheel from your hands? What about a nice VW GTI, the perennial favourite for its hot-hatch lively driving, a beautifully made interior and that Germanic level of precision in the build quality?
No thanks, I'll have a VW Scirocco instead. Why? Well, it's a GTI underneath, but it's lighter, prettier, slightly more powerful, prettier, a little bit faster around a track, and prettier. And it's cheaper too. And prettier.
If VW didn't hate us all so much, they'd bring this gorgeous coupe/hatchback cross over the Atlantic and sell it instead of the two-door GTI. You could still buy a four-door GTI if you only wanted a Golf, but the Scirocco is a hundred times better. I'll even stop making cracks about electrical problems if they do it.
FIAT 500 ABARTH ESSEESSE
Another hot hatchback we don't get, although this one is so fashionable it makes the Mini Cooper S look like a sweatshirt with sequins and an airbrushed wolf on it. Fiat's 500 is pure excellence, and probably the best retro-based car you can buy in Europe today.
The Abarth takes that retro-excellence and adds a dash of hot sauce, but not too much. With a 1.4-litre turbocharged engine producing just 160 h.p., it's unlikely to set any landspeed records. But, with a hummingbird-light curbweight and a sport-tuned suspension, this car should take to the curves like only an Italian can.
Best news yet, we might actually get some form of the 500 as part of the Fiat-Chrysler merger. I, for one, would happily set fire to 10,000 PT Cruisers if we could make just one of these little firecrackers.
Not everything has to have the turbocharging turned up to 11 or be riding around on huge alloy wheels. Some normal people might actually appreciate having a car that's efficient, easy to park and cleverly optioned. If you're in the market for a micro-sized car here, you buy a Smart. If you wanted something a little cleverer overseas, you'd get an iQ.
The tiny iQ (har har) is a four-seater, two-door car that has the short wheelbase of a Smart car, but with way more interior room due to innovations like a flat fuel tank and rear-angled shock absorbers. With a tiny three-cylinder engine, the iQ consumes just 4.3 l/100 km, but it also has a five-star Euro NCAP crash test rating.
I suppose I'd like to see a modified version of this little car, just to hear someone say, "Hey, I just lowered my iQ!" but really, just bring it here Toyota.
Canadian demand for big sedans is shrinking rapidly. Sure, a lot of us still need a highway car that's going to gulp down the miles and have a trunk big enough for haybales, but that's just the Albertans.
The era of the small car is upon us already, and it doesn't make any sense to me why there aren't even more choices for the small car buyer now. Mini's success should have proven that people are willing to pay more for less, as long as it's a nice less.
The real test though, will be the Euro-Fiesta that Ford is currently experimenting with. If that little car can do well, expect to see the Euro-Focus hot on its heels, and then (just maybe) I might be able to get my RS.
On the other hand, if anyone at Ford wants to send me one right now, please be assured that my journalistic integrity cannot be purchased. And I like the blue.