Five Foreign Cars We're Glad Aren't Sold Here

Craig Cole
by Craig Cole

It’s very common among American automotive enthusiasts to complain incessantly about desirable cars they can’t buy in the United States.

Comments like, “It’s so stupid! Why can’t I get a [insert exotic-sounding vehicle] over here? [Insert manufacturer name] makes the best [insert vehicle category].” Also, “Why is the government telling me what I can or cannot drive?! The [insert vehicle name] meets Euro emissions so should be able to own one!”

Of course, it’s hard to argue with these hard-line fanatics when we’ve missed out on so many blockbuster products over the years, vehicles like the Nissan Skyline, Porsche 959 or even Holden’s funky Ute, a car-based pickup with a bad Australian accent.

Underscoring extremist diatribes, this list of forbidden fruit rivals the number of Anderssons in a Swedish phonebook. A Ford Sierra Cosworth RS500, Renault 5 Turbo or even BMW Z1 are all lust-worthy cars we’ve had our hands slapped away from like an overweight child reaching for a slab of Kit Kat. Instead of chowing down on these delicious treats, we’ve been fed a steady diet of healthy snacks, like the wholegrain Toyota Corolla.

Fortunately, life isn’t a one-way street — there’s a landfill worth of vehicles that never got sold here and we should give thanks that these deplorable products never washed up on our shores. There are bad cars and then there are ones that are simply atrocious. Here are five such vehicles.

5. Chery QQ

Who wants to own something original when you can have as spurious knockoff? The Chery QQ is a Chinese-built city car that’s essentially a carbon copy of the already undesirable Daewoo Matiz. And such a slavish imitation it was, the doors reportedly interchanged between the two cars. Intellectual property rights? Not in the People’s Republic. It’s the wild, wild East!

If you’re going to imitate something, why not duplicate a product that’s actually good? It’s likely the QQ is as enjoyable to drive as being sent to a Chinese prison camp for a dose of “reformation through labor,” though it does not come with a threadbare uniform or a meal of gruel. In any event, be thankful this depressing little hatchback isn’t sold here.

4. Iran Khodro Samand Sarir

If you thought a Chinese rip-off of a Daewoo micro-car was the epitome of awful, think again. Iran Khodro is Persia’s indigenous automaker, though its lineup basically consists of leftover Peugeot and Renault vehicles, and probably ones that have been outlawed in Europe for requiring too

much child labor to assemble. The company’s Samand Sarir sedan is an unexpectedly regal offering that’s billed as the “most luxurious Iranian car ever.” Isn’t that like saying gonorrhea is the best sexually transmitted infection? We’ll let you make that judgment call.

Whoever said time travel is impossible never sat in one of these cars. The Sarir’s plush cabin looks like it was lifted right from 1992. Additionally, its extended wheelbase is sure to keep a supreme leader happy for hours at a time, and with a trunk capacity of 500 liters, it’s got plenty of space for political prisoners, though still not enough room for any smiles.

3. Mitsubishi Mirage Hello Kitty 40th Anniversary Package’s freshly minted managing editor Jodi Lai suggested this cutesy little Mitsubishi make our list here. In a tweet about the pink car, she proclaimed her “inner Asian is SCREAMINGGGGGGG!!” Ostensibly, this is because her outer Asian was unable to make such ruckus in an office environment without HR getting involved.

What’s not to love about this hot-pink, hair bow-bedecked B-segment car? Well, for starters, it’s still a Mirage. That means it hitches a dismal driving experience to a complete dearth of desirable features to create something that’s less than the sum of its questionable parts. At least it comes with Hello Kitty pillows and graphics. Oh, and it’s cheap, priced to sell at 1.4 million … yen. In dollars and sense that’s less than $12,000.

2. Tata Nano

Tata’s Nano is basically the cheapest car on earth. In the company’s home market of India, it has a starting price of around 214,000 rupees, which is about 3,400 in Federal Reserve notes. That’s roughly how much a nice week-long getaway for two costs or what you’d shell out for a steak dinner in Manhattan.

The car is rather miserable to drive with just 37 hp on tap, courtesy of a 0.6-liter two-cylinder gasoline engine; horrific body roll is a no-charge extra. Top speed is 105 km/h, just 65 miles an hour. But for a vehicle with essentially no safety equipment, that’s not a bad thing. The Nano is great for emerging markets where most customers are riding motorcycles, but it’s a horrendous choice for more prosperous drivers. Count your lucky stars it’s not sold in the U.S. Plus, look at how many hipsters it attracted in the above photo! Who wants that?

1. Jiangling Landwind X6

America is a land of rough-hewn individualists, entrepreneurs and cowboys, folks that aren’t afraid to roll up their sleeves and get a little dirt under their nails. Consequently, we love our pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles — the bigger, the tougher, the better. At first glance, Jiangling’s Landwind X6 appears to have success written all over it (in Mandarin of course … not to be confused with a certain BMW with a similar name. Void where prohibited. Not eligible to residents of Arkansas, Mississippi, Oregon or the Aleutian Islands). This SUV’s styling is more rugged than Caitlyn Jenner’s jawline, but just like the former Olympian’s appearance, things aren’t always as they seem. Crash tests performed by the German automotive organization ADAC revealed that the Landwind X6’s structure is roughly as sturdy as a damp piñata. The driver would not survive a 40-mile-an-hour head-on collision. Want proof? Look at the GIF below.

Craig Cole
Craig Cole

Born and raised in metro Detroit, Craig was steeped in mechanics from childhood. He feels as much at home with a wrench or welding gun in his hand as he does behind the wheel or in front of a camera. Putting his Bachelor's Degree in Journalism to good use, he's always pumping out videos, reviews, and features for When the workday is over, he can be found out driving his fully restored 1936 Ford V8 sedan. Craig has covered the automotive industry full time for more than 10 years and is a member of the Automotive Press Association (APA) and Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA).

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