Top 10 'Forbidden Fruits' of the 2014 Paris Motor Show

Mike Schlee
by Mike Schlee

Car companies are pretty clever. A lot of time, research and money gets spent before a new product is created.

With differences in geographical, economic and cultural climates, one vehicle that might work in country A may not work in country B. This leads to a lot of variances globally when it comes to cars and trucks.

Although we get a lot of cool cars in America, there are still some “forbidden fruits” in other lands that I wish would make the journey across the ocean. Cars that for one reason or another have been deemed as too risky to be sold on our shores, even though my irrational, inner enthusiast wants to drive them so badly.

SEE ALSO: Top 10 Cars From the 2014 Paris Motor Show

During the Paris Motor Show, I was surrounded by them and I felt weaker than Tiger Woods in Amsterdam’s Red Light District. Peugeots, Renaults, diesels, wagons and more; they were everywhere! After wiping the drool off of these fast foreign beauties, I pulled out my camera and made a top ten list of the cars at the 2014 Paris Motor Show I wish were available in North America.

In Europe there is still a Ford Focus wagon. But wait, it gets worse. That wagon is available with the full ST treatment found on the five-door Focus sold on our shores. If things aren’t bad enough for us enthusiasts, for 2015 there will a manual transmission Ford Focus ST wagon with a diesel engine. Yes, it’s merely an all-wheel drivetrain away from being the perfect vehicle.

Although the 2.0-liter turbocharged diesel engine only makes 182 horsepower, like any good diesel, it’s crammed full of torque – a whopping 295 lb-ft. That is good for a 0-60 MPH time of 8.0 seconds and with 235 mm wide tires and the full ST suspension, this would be one fun wagon to take on a twisting mountain road.

A lot of cars these days are boring to look at. That is not the case with the Citroën C4 Cactus. Based on the regular C4 hatchback, the Cactus isn’t a crossover or a hatchback, it’s somewhere in-between. Marketed as a C-segment vehicle, it’s designed to compete against vehicles like the Ford Focus hatchback, even though the Cactus is much shorter at a length of 163.7-inches in length.

Not overly sporty, I put this car on the list because it’s an innovative, stylish car that’s as functional as it is flashy. Those ribbed, off-color plastic inserts on the doors aren’t just for looks, they also serve a purpose. Called “AirBumps”, they are designed to take the impact of car doors, bicycles, shopping carts, etc without damaging the vehicle.

Alright, so we get do still get two modern interpretations of old-school, off-road SUVS – the Jeep Wrangler and the Mercedes-Benz G-Class. But there is one more I wish we got, the Land Rover Defender 90. A 4X4 that is anything but an all-terrain pretender, the Defender 90 has a massive cult following all over the world.

Powered by a torquey four-cylinder diesel engine feeding power through a six-speed manual, the Defender is everything a proper off-road truck should be. And just look at it. Is there anything else that looks so bad-ass and classy at the same time?

I love the Ford Fiesta ST, so the thought of a similar sized, more upscale three-door hatchback that could give it a run for its money really appeals to me. Wearing Alfa’s corporate face, the Mito is a bit bug-eyed, yet still endearing.

In its sportiest trim, the Mito uses the same engine as found in the Fiat 500 Abarth, a 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that in the Alfa makes 170 HP and 170 lb-ft of torque. That’s quite a bit of power for a 2,579 lbs. car and to ensure the rest of the Mito is as sporty as the engine, the 1.4-liter turbo comes paired to a six-speed dual-clutch automatic and rolls on 215 mm width tires.

SEE ALSO: Top 10 Hybrids of the 2014 Paris Motor Show

Making the Mito even more exotic to me are two other engine choices though. There is a 0.9-liter turbocharged two-cylinder engine that makes 105 HP and 89 lb-ft of torque as well as a 1.6-liter turbocharged diesel engine that puts out 120 HP and 207 lb-ft of torque.

Hey look, another wagon on the list. This one though is a bit different than the Ford Focus ST diesel. Whereas the Ford is attainable to the masses, the Audi Avant RS 6 is something a little more special. Powered by a 4.0-liter turbocharged V8, the RS 6 pumps 560 HP and 516 lb-ft of torque through an eight-speed automatic to all four wheels. That’s good enough for a 0-62 MPH time of just 3.9 seconds.

But what would a super-wagon be without the looks and luxury to back it up? The RS 6 has both in spades. Starting with the good looking A6 Avant, the RS treatment flares the fenders out dramatically, installs a more aerodynamic front end and finishes it off with a pair of massive exhaust tips.

Hopped up hatchbacks dominate the European automotive landscape and occupy the top five spots on this list. France, Germany and Japan have spent decades making hopped-up pocket rockets and this latest batch is quite possibly the best.

The Seat Leon Cupra 280 is the top-dog in the Seat family for now, until the even hotter Cupra R arrives sometime later. But the 280 is no slouch. With a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine making 276 HP and 258 lb-ft of torque, Seat expects this car to rocket from 0-62 MPH in 5.9 seconds with the six-speed manual or 5.7 seconds with the six-speed dual-clutch automatic.

The rest of the car is equally impressive with a mechanical locking front differential, grippy 235 mm wide tires and aggressive bucket seats. Think of it as a Ford Focus ST taken up a level.

The Peugeot RCZ R is less of a hot hatchback and more of a front-wheel drive sport coupe. But that doesn’t stop me from wanting it. With an attractive, coupe-like profile, it’s the technical specifications that really get me excited.

For starters, under the hood is a 1.6-liter turbocharged engine that makes an incredible 270 HP and 182 lb-ft of torque. Let that sink in for a moment. A tiny 1.6-liter is pumping out 270 HP. That makes the Ford Fiesta ST’s 1.6-liter turbo seem absolutely pedestrian by comparison.

SEE ALSO: 2014 Paris Motor Show Coverage

Available exclusively with a six-speed manual transmission, the 2,987 lbs. RCZ R is capable of accelerating from 0-62 MPH in just 5.9 seconds.

The second Audi on this list, the S1 is a completely different animal than RS 6 Avant. Although it’s turbocharged and all-wheel drive, the S1 is a sub-compact three-door hatchback similar in size to the Mazda2. But whereas the little Mazda uses a 100 HP 1.5-liter engine, the S1 is equipped with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder pumping out an underrated 228 HP and 273 lb-ft of torque. The all-wheel drive pocket rocket can hit 62 MPH form a standstill in 5.8 seconds.

Power is sent to the Quattro system through a six-speed manual transmission, keeping the baby Audi sport monster not just fast, but also fun to drive. The only downside to shoving an all-wheel drive system and turbocharged engine into a small chassis is a hefty weight. But, at 2,899 lbs. the S1 still has a respectable power-to-weight ratio.

A few years ago Citroën launched a sub-brand with more stylish, higher performing versions of the companies cars under the name DS, chosen in homage to the legendary French classic. One of the highlights of the brand is the DS3.

Powered by a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine making 204 HP and 203 lb-ft of torque, the DS3 may not be as powerful as some other vehicles on this list, but it makes up for it in luxury and style. With full LED lighting all around, French styled interior and sext sheet metal, the DS3 has the form to back up the function.

Best of all, this six-speed manual hot hatch may actually make it to our shores in the next few years as Peugeot is looking to expand into America using the DS brand.

Although only a shell stood on display at the Paris Motor Show, the upcoming Honda Civic Type R is going to be an absolute monster. Touted as the best performing Type R of all time, Honda is confident it will be even faster than the iconic NSX Type R.

SEE ALSO: Civic Type R ‘Concept’ Will Boost Your Faith in Honda

How is that possible from a front-wheel drive compact car? Well, for starters, the engine will be a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder making at least 276 HP. Paired to a six-speed manual transmission, the new Type R will employ a special set of ‘kingpins’ to help eliminate torque steer. As well, the new Civic will have adaptive dampers at all four corners to ensure optimal handling and minimum body roll.

With a lame duck Civic Si currently residing on showroom floors across North American Honda dealers, we can only dream of something as cool as the 2016 Honda Civic Type R.

Mike Schlee
Mike Schlee

A 20+ year industry veteran, Mike rejoins the AutoGuide team as the Managing Editor. He started his career at a young age working at dealerships, car rentals, and used car advertisers. He then found his true passion, automotive writing. After contributing to multiple websites for several years, he spent the next six years working at the head office of an automotive OEM, before returning back to the field he loves. He is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC), and Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA). He's the recipient of a feature writing of the year award and multiple video of the year awards.

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  • Smartacus Smartacus on Oct 06, 2014

    Whoah, that Peugeot RCZ-R is the cat's pajamas. 270HP? From a 1.6(!) Civic Type R who? *if the Mito is offered in an R2 variant, they can call it da R2 Mito, nyuck nyuck :