It happens every year.
An automaker endlessly teases an upcoming model, while spy photographers capture it in testing. The anticipation builds and we await with feverish excitement to be able to drive the new car when all of a sudden our hopes are dashed.
“Unfortunately, the car won’t be available in right-hand drive” is typically how the line from the automaker goes. Sometimes it is engineered as such and yet we miss out anyway.
This year, despite the pandemic, there was still a raft of new vehicle reveals. Alas, not all of them will be coming here. We in the CarExpert.com.au team would like to share which are the greatest missed opportunities.
Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 392 V8
The Wrangler is a ridiculous car, so the fact that we can’t get a ridiculous V8 engine for it is a little disappointing. If I’m buying American, I want it with extra cheese
Ford. Bronco. This is pretty much the coolest car launch of recent years and it will be giving Australia a wide berth, despite the fact it uses most of the components that live beneath the Australian designed and engineered Ford Ranger.
It has to be the Bronco, doesn’t it? I’m not really an off-roader, but Ford’s reborn four-wheel drive could be the car that finally convinces me to get muddy.
Not only does it look cool, it appears to have the under-the-skin chops to take on the long-running Jeep Wrangler.
The fact its bones were engineered in Australia make it doubly frustrating that we don’t get it. After all, the hard work on the T6 platform was done in Broadmeadows and the You Yangs.
It seems a bit unfair Australia misses out.
Every VW Group plug-in hybrid
WHY U DO THIS?! Audi, Skoda and Volkswagen have all revealed numerous plug-in hybrid variants of their top-selling vehicles – including the A3, Q3, Q5, Q7, Q8, Golf, Tiguan, Touareg, Octavia and so on.
All offer a more efficient package without having to opt for diesel – which the brands don’t even offer in the small and medium segments anymore – and perhaps would help drive the uptake of low-emissions vehicles in Australia.
Alas, our lack of emissions targets and low-quality fuel continue to be the reasons cited, as well as limited demand. Hopefully that changes sooner rather than later because I’d love a Golf GTE for myself.
Mazda 3 Turbo
The Mazda 3 hatch is such a looker outside and inside, to my eyes (not everyone’s). But its chassis could handle more grunt than offered by the rev-happy naturally aspirated petrol it uses.
Our American friends get one with a 170kW 2.5-litre turbo engine, the same muscular donk used in Aussie CX-5 and CX-9 models. This promises to be a grown-up hot hatch with some luxury touches, one that sits somewhere alongside a more aggro Golf GTI or Megane RS and below a Mercedes-AMG A35.
Unfortunately, it’s not being made in right-hand drive. The company is clearly saving some coin by engineering it for LHD only, but it would have been a ripper. Ah well.
Ford Mustang Shelby GT350R or any other Shelby Mustang
I guess we should thank Ford Australia for the Mustang GT and limited edition Bullitt, but the Shelby versions are on another level entirely and some of the best performance machines ever built by Ford.
So why can’t we have them, too, Mr. Ford? I promise they will sell.
Ford Puma ST
It uses the Fiesta platform, has the same powertrain as the Fiesta ST, and would give Ford’s overlooked crossover range a shot in the arm. Its exclusion from Australia is baffling to say the least.
Better engines for Japanese cars
I was tempted to be another vote for Bronco but I think I’ll go with a less obvious choice.
Why, in our performance-crazy market, do Japanese automakers insist on keeping the good stuff overseas?
This year, Mazda revealed turbocharged versions of the 3 and CX-30, only to say they were left-hand drive only. Australian market details for the next-generation Subaru Outback were finally revealed, only to show the turbocharged 2.4-litre four-cylinder available in the North American market was staying there.
They join a list of more inspiring powertrains withheld from us, including the turbocharged 2.0-litre Honda Accord, turbocharged 1.3-litre Nissan Qashqai and 2.0-litre hybrid Toyota Corolla. We may be spoiled with the amount of variety we get in such a small market but I’m still going to get up out of my pram about this – I want more power!