Thursday Five: manufacturers please, bring these to Aotearoa
In some ways New Zealand is spoiled for choice when it comes to automotive options. If you want to purchase a car, your options aren’t just limited to trawling the depths of certain auction sites, or having to deal with your local car salesman.
Should you be savvy enough, you’re free to import cars from all over the world — something many countries all over the world, including our mates over the ditch — can only dream of.
That said, for some there is no substitute for buying new off the lot. Likewise, while importing from Japan can be relatively cheap and simple, to repeat the process for a car from Europe or the United States can be like jumping through a hoop made of jelly, and more expensive.
So, today's Thursday Five examines five cars we wished were available in New Zealand.
Seat Leon Cupra
Photo / Seat
Which front-wheel drive car do you think was the first to crack the eight-minute barrier at the Nürburgring Nordschleife?
Nope, it wasn’t the Civic Type R, the Golf GTi, or the Audi RS3 — it was this; the Seat Leon Cupra.
Not including race cars, I think I've seen about three Seat's in my lifetime. All three were pre-shagged Cordoba's, roaming Kiwi streets looking very confused and far from home. The story goes that in 2000, around 100 Cordobas were shipped to New Zealand after the marque was axed in Australia — the only time any Seats were sold in New Zealand new.
Curious story aside, the Leon Cupra is one of the most savage hot hatches on the planet, while simultaneously looking like any other hatchback. It is the ultimate sleeper, which will add to its appeal for some.
A pity vote too for Honda's new Civic Type R. Incredible machine.
Photo / Ford
A healthy amount of these things eventually wiggle their way to our shores — enough for me to think they’d sell like hot cakes if they were made locally available.
One of the best-selling trucks in America, the F150 has become as quintessential to US bro culture as one-night stands and a love of Nascar. While New Zealand would love to position itself as a nation of rational, ‘normal’ people, I see enough people who’d love to bury their bowels behind the wheel of one of these to think that they’d be a worthwhile edition to our marketplace.
Most of them sadly make do with Rangers, making ‘broom broom’ noises behind the wheel, imagining a V8 under the bonnet.
Also, I want a Raptor.
Photo / Lincoln
When the new Lincoln Continental’s concept debuted in 2015, it was bitter-sweet. On one hand, it was an impeccably beautiful thing, soft and natural in its lines and design ethos. Here was a kind of American luxury sedan of which America hadn’t seen for years, and it sported a Lincoln badge.
Sadly on the other hand, comparisons between its design and Bentley’s then-new Flying Spur. Even a couple of Bentley’s own designers weighed into the argument, with exterior design chief, Sangyup Lee, telling Car and Driver that the Lincoln design was “a joke.”
While the design has been slightly sanitized since then, released to the world in its confirmed, production form in January this year, much of it’s fabulous elements remain. The door handles integrated into the sills, and a new design language that will present itself on Lincoln’s other models, it’s still an imposing, yet graceful addition to the luxury world.
With the Holden Commodore and Ford Falcon now on their way out, would something like the Continental have a market here?
Photo / Dacia
Great news! The Dacia Sandero made this list!
If you live underneath a rock, or live in Invercargill, and you missed the reference or you're not sure what this Dacia thingy is, here's a refresher.
Dacia are a Romanian manufacturer who are in bed with Renault, producing good, cheap, simple cars. Often based on aging Renault platforms, Dacia price themselves as some of the cheapest commuter cars in Europe thanks to their comprehensive lack of features. But, for those just looking to get from A to B, cars like Dacia's Sandero hatchback are an adequate option.
Ever since Daihatsu got a sharp elbow to the ribs, and the Korean brands decided they were better than making cheap bottom-of-the-barrel crud, the 'cheap and cheerful' market has been vacant. Of course we have Chery, but Dacia would be a whole new deal. Cheap cars, with a 'flashy European badge' one could boast to their ill-informed neighbours about? It'd be like printing money!
Photo / Renault
There's no decent reason for this to be on this list, apart from the raw fact that it's pretty cute. We don't have enough cityscape to justify a car created specifically for city livin', and their prices in the UK start at almost $15,000NZD — a lot of money for ... well ... a play-thing.
But it's clearly not a car for us car folks. This is a Segway, or an iPad, or a Twitter. This is a thing for those who love technology, who don't necessarily care for cars or fun, and would trade in practicality for ease of use in town.