Some vehicles are altered significantly to fit North American needs and/or pronunciation.
The new Dodge Dart compact premiered at the 2012 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, although an unbranded gold hatchback on a Chrysler stand was shown the previous year to gauge customer reaction. The hatchback proved a little too much for U.S. tastes but it was also meant to showcase what might come from a Fiat Chrysler alliance.
The hatchback used to solicit US buyer acceptance was the Giulietta, though it didn’t have the tell-tale triangular grille that gives Alfa Romeo models perhaps the most-distinctive face in the industry. The front-drive Giulietta comes only as a 4-door hatchback, which would seem to be a natural for Canada with our desire for 5-door models.
The Rogue is the North American version of the Nissan X-Trail. It was introduced in 2007 at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit as Nissan’s entry in the compact utility segment, though the X-Trail had been available in Canada the previous year.
Derived from the X-Trail/Rogue, Qashqai is one of those names that don’t roll well off “American” tongues. It has been considered too small for our needs, although it may now make it across the seas as more buyers here embrace ever smaller crossovers.
Kia’s sub-compact crossover introduced a generation of new buyers to the segment and set Kia up as an edgy, style-conscious company. Clever styling cues give the impression of high-ground-clearance go-anywhere ability but the Soul’s front-wheel drive only platform basically makes it just a tall hatchback.
Hyundai and Kia models in Canada basically mirror each other, which is one of the reasons Hyundai is planning to bring in Creta, also known as ix25 in some markets. Engines are expected to be the same 1.6- and 2.0-litre “fours” as those in Soul and it is also expected to come only in FWD.
The Toyota Corolla has been around since 1966, and sometimes as 3-door/5-door wagons/liftbacks/hatchbacks. It’s also marketed everywhere in the world under various names, sometimes by rival automakers. Among the most successful was the Pontiac Vibe (a compact wagon rebadge of the Toyota Matrix).
The hatchback version of the Corolla became the “sport” version in many world markets, eventually crafting its own persona as Auris, which has been considered the style leader of the Corolla lineup since 2006. Never really allowed to make an impression in North America, it finally arrived in 2015, rebadged a Scion.
Originally just a hatchback/wagon, the A3 is based on the proven, popular and ubiquitous Golf platform, providing entry-level luxury performance buyers with sedan or convertible power from turbocharged 4-cylinder engines and sequential automatic transmissions driving all four wheels. The wagon is now a front-wheel drive electric hybrid.
Škoda was a cheap line of vehicles (in dollars and quality) made in the former Czechoslovakia, and then acquired by Volkswagen. The Octavia has been around for more than half a century, and in its latest iteration comes in wagon and sedan bodystyles to match the Audi A3 on style, but eclipsing both models in size.
Available in just about every automotive bodystyle ever devised, the Accord has been a perennial top seller in North America for three decades. The latest (ninth) generation added several never before seen segment features, including LED headlights and a right-side blind-spot monitoring camera.
The Malay word for “prime” is appropriate for the rebadged eighth generation Accord used solely by Malaysian government types. The previous Perdana (made from 1995 through 2009) was a rebadged Mitsubishi Eterna (which evolved into Galant), but Proton chose Honda for the Perdana Replacement Model (PRM).
When GM made its new small car —Cruze — it envisioned a flexible platform from which to create several bodystyles. It spawned the likes of the Chev Orlando crossover and Opel Astra hatchback, as well as the upscale Buick Verano sedan. The new generation moves up in size and helps craft new Chev Equinox and GMC Terrain crossovers.
Envision is rumoured to be coming to North America to slot in above the sub-compact Encore as a bridge to the mid-sized Enclave. Envision has been introduced in China and everything about it — including engines, size, production costs and the Buick desire to introduce a bunch of new models — seems to be aligning for an introduction here.
The RVR is descended from the Mitsubishi Expo, which began life in Canada as the Dodge and Plymouth Colt Vista. The compacts in the Chrysler lineup went away with the creation of the Neon coupe and sedan in the mid-1990s and Mitsubishi models were not sold in Canada until 2002, with the RVR making its appearance in 2010.
Developed in partnership with Mitsubishi and Citroën, the Peugeot 4008 is mostly marketed throughout Europe and around the Mediterranean, though it is also available in select other markets including South Africa and Argentina. The 4008 gets power from small 4-cylinder gasoline and diesel engines, with the largest being a petrol 2.0-litre “four” that’s the base engine in the RVR.
When the tiny Smart car joined the industry in 1984, it also created other models that made the brand accessible to many users in many different markets — a 2-seat roadster/sports car and a 4-seat, 4-door hatchback, for example — yet in the end, it was the tiny 2-seat, rear-engine, rear-wheel drive city car that came to North America.
One of the Smart models that may have had a future in North America was the 4-passenger Forfour. The Twingo, which has had quite a following in its home market since 1992, switched over to the rear-engine/rear-drive Smart platform in 2013, and is now actually bigger than its Fiat 500 rival, which is sold in North America.
For the longest time, Versa was Nissan’s entry-level hatchback in North America. It was named Tiida in other parts of the world, and when Renault and Nissan developed world platforms, Versa moved up in size and Micra moved into the entry-level slot. Tiida was replaced by Note in other markets, creating the Versa Note in North America.
It is not yet known if Clio, which shared the platform of the previous generation Tiida/Versa, will move up to the larger platform with its next redesign but right now it uses the older platform, though it matches the new Versa Note in bodystyle, length and wheelbase. Its looks are considerably sportier, though.
In Canada, the Toyota Land Cruiser went away in favour of the Lexus LX. Its latest iteration (its third generation) has been around since 2007 with mild facelifts along the way. It remains a capable off-roader, though some of the luxury body add-ons and interior amenities might make its owner think twice about venturing too far from pavement.
The Land Cruiser is Toyota’s longest running model series and considered one of the world’s most rugged off-roaders alongside the Jeep Wrangler, Land Rover Defender and the Geländewagen. In North America, it succumbed to the allure of the crossover pavement driver but it has soldiered on in other parts of the world as a capable off-roading wagon and pickup.
Hyundai’s all-new Ioniq comes in hybrid, plug-in hybrid and fully-electric flavours
The Bolt is a real, practical, fun-to-drive car with a few welcome surprises
Nissan’s compact Sentra gets a turbo boost and a big dose of sportiness