The 2016 Paris Auto Show gave us a glimpse of several cars that will make their way to our shores—but we also saw lots of vehicles that will never be sold in the United States. Let’s take a closer look at some of the forbidden fruit - cars you won't see in the USA that were revealed at the 2016 Paris Motor Show.
15 Paris Auto Show Cars You Won’t See in the USA
15 Paris Auto Show Cars You Won’t See in the USA
Quirky French automaker Citroen disappeared from the United States in the 1970s, but they are alive and well in Europe, where the C3 competes in the all-important subcompact segment against cars like the Ford Fiesta and Volkswagen Polo. The new C3 shown in Paris adopts styling cues from the oddball C4 Cactus, including the low-profile grille and “Airbump” padded-rubber panels that protect against door dings. There have been rumors of Citroen’s luxury sub-brand, DS, coming to the States, and corporate partner Peugeot has talked about a return to this market, but French cars have traditionally not done well here, so we think our chances of seeing this version of the C3 in the US are just about zero.
This compact hatch is the all-important Volkswagen Golf fighter, a segment that is as important to Europe as mid-size sedans and compact SUVs are to America. That largely explains the no-nonsense styling and a plethora of engines—three gasoline-fueled powerplants and three diesels (actually one diesel with three different horsepower ratings). Hyundai also plans a “hot hatch” version to be called the i30N, the premier model from its upcoming “N” performance division. Technically, this vehicle shouldn’t be on this list, as we will be getting a version of it in the United States—like the previous-generation i30, this new one will be sold here as the Elantra GT. Hyundai has not confirmed that the i30N will come over as well, but we have our fingers crossed.
Years ago, Kia sold the Carens in the United States as the Rondo. And while Americans love cars that look like SUVs—witness the success of the Subaru Outback—it turned out that we didn’t really like SUVs that look like cars. The Rondo was axed after 2010, although it continues to be sold in Canada as well as Europe. Kia showed an updated version at the Paris show, with new front and rear styling and an updated interior with an improved infotainment system. The Euro-spec Carens at the show featured new eco-friendly features for its 1.7 liter turbodiesel engine; assuming the facelifted version continues on sale in Canada—and we have no reason to believe it won’t—it will likely continue with the same 164 hp 2-liter gasoline engine. Kia is a company that learns from mistakes, and it’s highly unlikely that the Rondo will return to the Lower 48—instead, we expect Kia USA to concentrate its efforts on the all-new Sportage.
The Micra is Nissan’s entry-level car in nearly every market outside of the United States—and that includes Canada and Mexico (though south of the border it’s known as the March). The new Micra adapts many of the styling cues we’ve seen on other recent Nissans, and we think it’s a very good looking little car. Engine choices include a 75 hp 1.0 liter gas engine, a 90 hp 0.9 liter turbocharged three-cylinder, and a 90 horsepower 1.5 liter turbodiesel, though we’d be surprised if the Canadian version didn’t offer the 1.6 liter engine found in the current car. Could the Micra make it to the United States? While it is theoretically possible—the Micra is engineered to pass Canada’s safety and pollution standards, which are similar to our own—we think it’s highly unlikely. Canadians like small cars more than we do, so it makes sense to offer more choices, but here in the US the Micra would likely eat into sales of the successful Versa.
Opel Karl Rocks
The Opel Karl is the European version of the Chevrolet Spark, which itself is wearing new duds for 2016. Making its debut at Paris is the Karl Rocks model, which gets the SUV treatment with a jacked-up suspension, black bumpers, and exaggerated lower body cladding. Opel didn’t announce powertrains, but the regular version of the car gets a 74 horsepower 1-liter three-cylinder engine (and we’re sure our European friends would love to have the 98-hp 1.4 liter four-cylinder in the US-market Spark). The idea of a miniature crossover is not new in Europe: The Karl Rocks will compete against the Volkswagen CrossPolo and Fiat PandaCross, the latter (unlike the Opel and the VW) actually equipped with four-wheel-drive. The idea of a micro-SUV is an intriguing one, though it’s unlikely Chevrolet will bring a “Rocks” version of the Spark. Too bad.
If Peugeot sold cars in the United States, this is one of the models we’d likely see: The 3008 is a compact SUV that competes with the vehicles the size of the Toyota RAV4 and Nissan Rogue. Actually, this whole SUV thing is new for the 3008: The previous model was more sedate, styled like a minivan rather than an SUV, but the new model gets big wheels, aggressive lower body cladding and a distinctly SUV-like attitude, something that would probably play well in the States. Engine choices range from a tiny 1.2 liter gasoline engine producing 128 hp up to a 178 horsepower two-liter turbodiesel, and Peugeot plans to add a plug-in hybrid version in three years’ time. Will we see the 3008 here? Peugeot is contemplating a return to the United States, but if such a thing were to happen it is likely way off in the future. That said, if you want a 3008, you needn’t move very far away: Peugeot sells it in Mexico.
Like the 3008, the seven-seat 5008 is a minivan-like vehicle that is getting the SUV treatment. We don’t have many vehicles like this in the United States—Britain calls them “compact MPVs” (Multi Purpose Vehicle is their euphemism for minivan), though they have hinged rear doors instead of sliders—but the Fiat 500L is pretty close in size and scope. The old 5008 had largely unadorned sheetmetal, but the new version revealed at the Paris show has a distinctly SUV-like profile with a squared-off hood, boxy roof, and black plastic lower body cladding. The 5008 offers similar powertrain choices to the 3008, book-ended by a 128 hp 1.2 liter gasoline engine (can you imagine how slow that must be?) and a 178 hp diesel. Ironically, the 5008 will not be offered with all-wheel-drive. Like the 3008, there are no prospects for sales in the United States, and unlike the 3008 a cross-border run won’t work, as the 5008 is not currently part of Peugeot’s Mexican lineup.
First of all, who knew French automakers made pickup trucks? Technically, they don’t—the Alaskan is a rebadged Nissan Navara, which may explain why the look is somewhat familiar. (Nissan and Renault have a long-running corporate partnership.) The Navara is the latest version of Nissan’s compact pickup truck, though this particular version, introduced in 2014, is only sold in markets outside the United States. Renault’s version offers a choice of four-cylinder diesel and gasoline engines and can tow up to 3.5 metric tons—that’s about 7,700 lbs. to us ‘Muricans. Renault plans to introduce the Alaskan in South America before bringing it to Europe, where it will compete against other pickups we don’t get here, including the Volkswagen Amarok and the Mitsubishi L200. While we might see a Nissan version of this truck in the US—Nissan is cooking up a replacement for the Frontier, but we don’t know if it will be identical to this truck or something designed just for us—don’t count on seeing the Alaskan sold Stateside.
Renault’s new Koleos is the French automaker’s largest SUV, sized to compete against the Kia Sorento and Ford Edge. The Koleos is a five-seater, though Renault reportedly hasn’t ruled out the possibility of adding a third row in the future. Inside, the Koleos gets a big tablet-style touch screen, similar to those offered by Volvo and Tesla. Under the skin, the Koleos takes advantage of the Renault-Nissan partnership by borrowing its underpinnings from the Nissan Rogue. The Koleos will make its way to Mexico, where Renault does a thriving trade, but so far they seem to have little interest in returning to the United States—and that’s just as well, since the designers of the Dodge Durango might have something to say about the Koleos’ similar taillights.
Now here’s a car that could get some traction in the United States: The Zoe is a small electric car featuring a new 41 kWh battery, which Renault says will give the Zoe a real-world range of 186 miles, nearly double that of the previous version. (The “official” range is 250 miles, but Renault must see that as optimistic.) Unlike electric vehicles sold in America, the Zoe offers three powertrain ratings of 76 hp, 87 hp, and 89 hp. Externally, the new Zoe is similar to the old one, and Renault says that owners of old-shape Zoes will be able to install the new battery, though it’s range will still fall short of the new car owing to other improvements in the powertrain. The Zoe will compete against the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet’s new Bolt, which also made its debut at the Paris show under its European name: Opel Ampera-E.
SEAT Ateca X-Perience
SEAT (pronounced "say-yat") is a Spanish automaker that is now owned by the Volkswagen group; the brand capitalizes on its Spanish heritage to target young, trendy buyers. The Ateca is an all-new five-seat SUV closely related to the VW Tiguan, and the Paris show was used to reveal the X-Perience concept, a version with more rugged SUV design cues such as bumpers that suggest bull bars and scuff plates and tires with beefy off-road tread. The Ateca X-Perience is technically a concept model, but SEAT is reportedly considering X-Perience versions of several of its models. We think SEAT would be a neat addition to the US market, but we doubt that will happen: Volkswagen has other fish to fry at the moment.
Skoda is a Czech automaker that has been part of the Volkswagen Group since the mid-1990s, and most of their cars are variants of Volkswagen models sold in Europe and the US. The Kodiaq is a new large SUV offering optional three-row seating for up to seven. It uses the same “MQB” architecture that underpins Volkswagen’s Golf and upcoming new-generation Tiguan, and is supposed to be closely related to the latter. Does the Kodiaq give us a glimpse of Volkswagen’s upcoming US-market seven-seat SUV? Hard to say, though to our eyes the Kodiaq looks a lot more like an Audi Q7.
Photo Credit: Daimler Media
Smart ForFour Electric Drive
Most Americans associate Smart with the two-seat ForTwo, but did you know that Smart also makes a four-door, four-seat car? It’s called (logically enough) the ForFour, and Smart introduced a battery-powered version called the ForFour Electric Drive at the Paris auto show. The ForFour is based on the Renault Twingo (part of a burgeoning partnership between Renault/Nissan and Mercedes-Benz, Smart’s parent company), and it shares the ForTwo’s front- and rear-end styling and rear-engine (or, in this case, rear-motor), rear-drive layout. Many have thought that the four-seat Smart might fare better in the US than the two-seater, though its gas engine would be a handicap; it uses the same 0.9 liter turbo three-cylinder as the ForTwo, which is already considered pokey by American standards. But the electric version shown in Paris could change that, as electric motors provide plenty of torque. We doubt Smart will bring the ForFour here, but the ForTwo Electric Drive is on its way Stateside and will go on sale soon.
Though Suzuki has left the US market a couple of years ago, they are still selling cars in Europe. Some of Suzuki’s last products were a bit dire—the excellent Kizashi sedan is an exception—but many of us wondered if their fortunes would have changed had they brought over more of their brilliant small cars, and the Ignis has us asking that question all over again. British magazine Autoexpress describes the new Ignis as “a baby urban-chic SUV,” and we think its eye-catching styling would play well in the United States. The Ignis is powered by either a 1.2 liter four-cylinder known as the DualJet, or a 1.0 liter turbocharged three-cylinder called by the even cooler name BoosterJet. Options include four-wheel-drive and a “mild hybrid” system for the 1.2 DualJet engine. Will we see it in the States? Unfortunately not—Suzuki is gone, baby, gone.
Suzuki SX4 S-Cross
You may remember the SX4, a nifty little hatchback that featured in Top Gear USA’s short-lived Big Star Small Car segment. After Suzuki fled the States, they grew the SX4 into the bigger SX4 S-Cross, an anonymous-looking compact SUV. Suzuki revealed a new version at Paris, featuring a rather unfortunate nosejob in which a Buick-like grille has been grafted onto the disproportionately large front end. Comparing the SX4 S-Cross with the Ignis reminds us of why Suzuki struggled in the States: Their cars were a mixture of the good and the not-so-good. The SX4 S-Cross won't make it to the US, and for that we shall shed no tears.
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15 Paris Auto Show Cars You Won’t See in the USA
- Citroen C3
- Hyundai i30
- Kia Carens
- Nissan Micra
- Opel Karl Rocks
- Peugeot 3008
- Peugeot 5008
- Renault Alaskan
- Renault Koleos
- Renault Zoe
- SEAT Ateca X-Perience
- Skoda Kodiaq
- Smart ForFour Electric Drive
- Suzuki Ignis
- Suzuki SX4 S-Cross