Sales of new cars were up in France, Germany and Spain in the month of October. A sign of a strengthening economy? Perhaps, perhaps not. One thing is certain: They aren’t buying Chevy Impalas and Ford Tauruses. Though some automakers have had success with “world” cars (VW sells its Golf almost everywhere except McMurdo Station), most carmakers sell different cars in different markets. Here in the U.S., we never see late-model Peugeots, Renaults or Alfa Romeos—to say nothing of Skodas, Seats or Citroëns—but even well-known companies like Mercedes and BMW have cars tailored to a particular market. These models may carve up the autobahn, zip down the autostrada or cruise the kosokudoro, but you’ll never see them on our freeways.

Courtesy PSA Peugeot Citroën

Sales of new cars were up in France, Germany and Spain in the month of October. A sign of a strengthening economy? Perhaps, perhaps not. One thing is certain: They aren’t buying Chevy Impalas and Ford Tauruses. Though some automakers have had success with “world” cars (VW sells its Golf almost everywhere except McMurdo Station), most carmakers sell different cars in different markets. Here in the U.S., we never see late-model Peugeots, Renaults or Alfa Romeos—to say nothing of Skodas, Seats or Citroëns—but even well-known companies like Mercedes and BMW have cars tailored to a particular market. These models may carve up the autobahn, zip down the autostrada or cruise the kosokudoro, but you’ll never see them on our freeways.

Courtesy PSA Peugeot Citroën

The Nine Best Cars You Can't Buy Here

Nine of the Best
Nine of the Best

Sales of new cars were up in France, Germany and Spain in the month of October. A sign of a strengthening economy? Perhaps, perhaps not. One thing is certain: They aren’t buying Chevy Impalas and Ford Tauruses. Though some automakers have had success with “world” cars (VW sells its Golf almost everywhere except McMurdo Station), most carmakers sell different cars in different markets. Here in the U.S., we never see late-model Peugeots, Renaults or Alfa Romeos—to say nothing of Skodas, Seats or Citroëns—but even well-known companies like Mercedes and BMW have cars tailored to a particular market. These models may carve up the autobahn, zip down the autostrada or cruise the kosokudoro, but you’ll never see them on our freeways.

Courtesy PSA Peugeot Citroën
Mercedes-Benz CLS 63 AMG Shooting Brake
Mercedes-Benz CLS 63 AMG Shooting Brake

Ok, this takes some explaining. The original CLS was a four-door sedan. But “sedan” sounds dull, thought Mercedes, so they started calling it a “four-door coupe.” This act of linguistic malfeasance would be enough to make George Orwell spit up his tea, but Benz didn’t stop there. When a wagon version of the CLS was approved, it was dubbed a “shooting brake,” a Britishism often used to describe two-door station wagons. Bonkers naming conventions aside, the CLS Shooting Brake may be the coolest wagon ever made, particularly the AMG version, which packs 557 hp under its hood.

Courtesy Mercedes
Audi RS 6 Avant
Audi RS 6 Avant

Audi’s entry in the European Overpowered Station Wagon Playoffs has a 552 hp twin-turbo V8 under its hood. This engine also produces enough torque to propel the RS 6 from zero to 62 mph in 3.9 seconds. With four-wheel drive and enough room for five people and their luggage, the RS 6 doesn’t so much compete with other cars as it does with high-speed rail and private aircraft.

Courtesy Audi
BMW M550d xDrive
BMW M550d xDrive

Normally, if you want a four-door with some extra kick, you have to sacrifice some fuel efficiency for the privilege. But the all-wheel-drive M550d marries a typical BMW high-zoot four-door (the M550d’s engine puts out 376 hp) with Europe’s bear-hug embrace of diesel fuel. That means you can hit 62 mph in 4.9 seconds while still maintaining a totally respectable 20+ miles per gallon.

Courtesy BMW
Volkswagen Amarok
Volkswagen Amarok

In this country, the compact pickup is dying a quick death. Ford no longer sells its Ranger compact truck in the U.S., and good luck finding one from Chrysler/Dodge/Ram. But if you go abroad, you can get the Amarok. VW’s crew-cab pickup has available four-wheel drive for harsher terrain and available GPS navigation and a leather interior if you tend more toward the fancy. Best  of all? The The Amarok looks like it would be at home in a Bond movie, piloted by some evil henchman with a machine gun mounted out back.

Courtesy Volkswagen
Toyota Century
Toyota Century

In Japan, the Century is Toyota’s limousine, used to ferry captains of industry (and the Emperor of Japan), as it “encapsulates the essence of hospitality,” according to a promotional video. Built largely by hand, every millimeter of the $100,000 car has been obsessed over, from the lace curtains for the rear passengers to the wool seating (wool’s quieter than leather) to making sure the glove compartment closes with just the right “click.”

Photograph via Wiki Commons
Renault Twizy
Renault Twizy

The Twizy is a car in the way that Ashton Kutcher is a product engineer for Lenovo—more in name than in substance. But for certain urban applications, wouldn’t theTwizy be great? Admittedly the all-electric two-seater (look closely and you may make out that second seat in the back) lacks certain standard comforts like doors, but you can basically maneuver and park this thing like a motorcycle, while still having protection against the elements.

Courtesy Renault
Ford Grand C-Max
Ford Grand C-Max

Along with station wagons, Americans have fallen out of love with minivans. Ford’s Grand C-Max is smaller than a Honda Odyssey or Toyota Sienna, but it handles better. The Grand C-Max is a larger version of the C-Max Ford has started selling here, and is loaded up with fancy tech, including a self-parking system, lane-departure warnings and blind-spot detection sensors, making it a particularly well-appointed family car.

Courtesy Ford Motor Co.
Peugeot RCZ
Peugeot RCZ

Oh, Peugeot, you say? Makers of anonymous French hatchbacks? One-time seller of yellow-headlighted sedans and wagons in the US? All true. And while the rest of the Peugeot lineup doesn’t inspire a lot of enthusiasm, they do make this: A stunning coupe with 270 hp under the hood and… oh please—who cares about the specs? The RCZ could have a top speed of 34 mph and have a suspension made of oily rags and it wouldn’t matter because it looks so boss.

Courtesy PSA Peugeot Citroën
HSV GTS
HSV GTS

Australia is like the US of the Southern Hemisphere: wide open spaces, cowboys and relative isolation. Little wonder then that Holden, GM’s Australian subsidiary, turns out bona fide hot rods in the land down under. HSV is Holden’s high-performance division and the GTS is their maddest creation yet: A four-door with the engine of a Corvette, putting down 576 hp to the rear wheels. Perfect for that ride from Alice Springs to Devils Marbles in the Northern Territory.

Photograph via General Motors