7 Best Cars We Don’t Get in the UK
We’re pretty lucky here in the UK that we can choose a car that’s anywhere between a £7000 Dacia Sandero and a £300,000 Rolls Royce. We have lots of manufacturers based here and one of the biggest average spends on a car and as such, can pick from supercars, luxury cars, basic cars and a whole host of electric cars.
But there are a lot of cars out there that we don’t get, mostly ones in the good old United States of America but also some from the East as well. Now though we may not get these cars, most can be imported by one of many specialists over here, you’ll pay for the privilege but what price individuality and getting the car you really want? So, here’s a list of some of the cars I wish we got over here:
Dodge Challenger/Charger Hellcat
Starting off this list is a car that I’ve actually driven, and loved, so it’s even more galling that we don’t get it over here – the Dodge Hellcat. Dodge makes the Challenger Hellcat, a huge 2-door coupe and the Charger Hellcat – a BMW 7-Series sized 4-door saloon, both of which have hugely aggressive looks, the option of a widebody package with massive wheel arches and wider wheels. They’re aggressive but as you can see above, actually very pretty cars. What they hide though, is that under those big bonnets sits a 6.2 litre V8 with a chunky supercharger attached, sending power to the rear wheels only. And when I say power, I mean (use your Jeremy Clarkson voice here) POOWWEEEERRRRRRRR. Because if you choose the Redeye model, this 4-door family saloon car comes from the factory, fully warranted, with 797hp. That’s right, almost EIGHT HUNDRED HORSEPOWER. Absolutely, completely absurd, bonkers, ridiculous, wonderful and brilliant. Both models also sound so angry that they scare old ladies in the next town when they startup. The best bit is, you can buy the ‘regular’ 717hp Hellcat for $62,000 – that’s £45,000 or about the same as a well-specced Golf R. Admittedly they do about 12mpg, but what a way to get around! This engine is popular over there too, they’ll sell you a Dodge RAM TRX pickup truck with one, or even a Dodge Durango SUV.
Ford Mustang Shelby GT500
Continuing the theme of slightly bonkers fast muscle cars, we have the top Mustang offering from Ford in the US – the Shelby GT500. Now we do get the Mustang over here in the UK, in RHD and that’s fantastic. But the recently launched Mach-1 which has some Shelby bits is as wild as it gets, which is a shame as over the water our US friends get three Shelby models – the GT350, the track-focused GT350R and the wild child – the GT500. Now oddly the Shelby models both use the pre-facelift headlights, but it doesn’t detract from the fact that the Shelby GT500 is one seriously aggressive-looking coupe – huge intakes, vents, big arches, spoilers, massive exhaust pipes, it’s got it all. And frankly it all fits too – this isn’t all looks a no-go – the GT500 has under the bonnet a 760hp supercharged 5.2 litre V8. Spare a thought for the crowds at US car meets now there are production Mustangs with 760hp. It’s a slightly more advanced proposition than the Hellcat though, with that power going to the rear wheels via a 7-spd dual-clutch gearbox and lots of trick suspension work. This means it can not only sprint to 62mph in 3.4 seconds, but actually handle too – lapping tracks as quickly as a 718 Cayman GT4 or Lambo Huracan Evo. Impressive stuff.
Now this is a car currently not sold here, but there’s a very good chance that it will be and will massively disrupt the current market for family EVs. Nio may be a new name here, but has been making EVs in China for a long time and this latest ET5 model aims to take sales directly from Tesla’s Model 3. The Model 3 is pertinent to mention, because there’s more than a slight similarity in the styling, though the Nio is arguably a more modern and better-resolved design, a little like you’d hope a Model 3 facelift would be. But it’s the powertrain where the ET5 really shines, with the option of three batteries – 75kWh, 100kWh and an enormous 150kWh battery – these give ranges on the Chinese test cycle of 342, 435 and 620 miles (expect that to be 280, 380 and 500 on the WLTP test we use here). That is properly game-changing – a £35-50k family car that can do 500 miles is what people have been asking for and now they can have it. Nio has another ace up it’s sleeve too – in China they have over 1300 battery swap stations where you can drive in and your empty battery is swapped out with a fully charged one in about 5 minutes – that’s as quick as filling up your car. This means you lease the battery which costs monthly obviously, but then the purchase price is lower. And you can lease the 75kWh battery and then pay a ‘boost’ to use a 150kWh battery for a couple of weeks. So you can have a decent range car for your daily use, then battery swap for a 500 mile range battery when you want to do the family summer holiday to France. As I said before – Game. Changing. I expect we’ll see Nio landing in the UK in 2023 with their battery swap stations to follow – exciting times.
Nissan Z [400Z]
Okay, so the big US muscle cars are great but they’re crazy powerful, thirsty and not really suitable for everyday use. So this next car really hurts – the Nissan Z or the Nissan 400Z if you want to continue their naming strategy, because this is the successor to the 350Z and 370Z. Nissan has been making this V6 powered, RWD coupe model line since the early 2000’s and though it never sold massively over here it’s always been popular. So when Nissan showed off the 400Z with it’s retro rear end and anime-style front end we all got very excited. Until they told us it was only going on sale in Asia and the US. Booo. Because this is precisely the kind of car we need here in the UK – small enough to use daily and thread down our country lanes, but RWD, fun and has a 400hp twin-turbo V6 with a manual gearbox. Even the interior has moved on and looks modern and cool. This would be a great rival to the Toyota Supra, but for some reason Nissan don’t think it’s worth selling here. Even more annoying is that it will be made in RHD for the Japanese market so there really isn’t a reason why it couldn’t be sold, apart from annoying EU emissions regulations. Still, can always import one!
Another RHD, Japanese sports car that isn’t sold here is the wonderfully quirky Honda S660. This is designed to meet Japan’s ‘Kei’ rules, which means it needs to have a very small footprint on the road and an engine no larger than 660cc. In the S660’s case it has a mid-mounted turbocharged 3-cylinder engine with a manual gearbox (or CVT option), rear wheel drive, convertible roof and looks that mix cuteness with NSX styling cues. It may only have 65hp, but with only 830kg to move around it’s still quick enough to be fun thanks to the layout and Honda’s handling gurus. Why they never imported it officially is beyond me, the popularity of the MX-5 shows we love small convertibles here and people also love a car that doesn’t cost the earth to run. Being a Japanese model it’s very easy to import as if evidenced by the UK Owner’s club which has around 25 cars in it, here’s hoping more make their way over.
Now we’re getting into a car that I think might actually eventually be sold over here, but currently is US-only – the Rivian R1S and R1T. Rivian is an American EV startup and has two models – the R1T pickup truck and R1S SUV. Both take the same basic structure and front end and then change the rear for the purpose at hand – but both share the same powertrain. That consists of four motors, two front and two rear, making a combined 835hp and a staggering 1220Nm of torque. The standard battery claims a range of 300 miles, while the bigger, $10k optional battery makes that 400 miles – very impressive stuff. Also impressive is the fact that the R1T recently outperformed some serious purpose-built off-roaders in the legendary Moab Trails run thanks to the individually controlled power to each wheel it’s incredible off road. Being a totally new design, the R1T shows real innovation in the packaging too, with an interior that wouldn’t look out of place in a Rolls Royce. This is lifestyle motoring to the max. The R1S is the SUV version and shares the same package – but the key element is that it isn’t as big as you think. The R1T sits between a Ford Ranger and F150 in size and the R1S is the same size as the new Range Rover. So potentially you could have a great looking fully electric SUV with 400 miles range for less than the Range Rover – game-changing stuff.
The Ford Bronco is about as American as they come, from the original 70’s models, through to the iconic ‘OJ Simpson’ white Bronco tearing down a highway followed by police cars, the shape and name is known everywhere. So it’s no great surprise that with the current trend for retro-cool, Ford has decided to bring back the Bronco. Available as a 2-door or 4-door, this is a rival for the Jeep Wrangler and new Land Rover Defender – a proper off-roading 4×4 (NOT an SUV). The styling is a modern take on the classic Bronco look and for me at least, looks absolutely fantastic especially as a 2-door in the more off-road biased trim levels which come with huge 37-inch tyres and massive wide wheelarch extensions. Power comes from either a 2.3 litre turbocharged 4cyl or the Ecoboost V6, though I hear that a Bronco Raptor model is coming with the GT500’s supercharged V8. Yeah America! Over there it starts at the equivalent of about £30,000 too which is amazing value for money, though if it made it here that would likely be £40k+. Either way, I’d love a Bronco.