Why Can't America Get Europe's Fastest Hot Hatches?

The Fiesta ST is fun but small. The Subaru WRX is old school but not a hatchback anymore. The Golf GTI? Not fast enough. The Golf R? Could be more fun. America is clearly missing out.


The 2015 Seat Leon Cupra 280 is the current front-wheel drive record holder on the Nürburgring, but that doesn't really matter. What does is that Seat's fastest hatchback is essentially a Golf R that's lighter, more agile and less complicated thanks to the lack of all-wheel drive. It's cheaper too, and while VW priced it slightly above the GTI, you pay the same kind of money for a GTI with the Performance Pack, which is still 50 horsepower down compared to the Leon.

The Renaultsport Megane 265 is by no means a new car, but while Renault does its best to keep it interesting, they don't need to worry too much because the Megane is still the king of the hot hatch mountain around here.

America certainly won't get this one, but how about the next generation, maybe as a Nissan?

The fact is that these cars grew up. They won't fall apart, you can still take the kids to school with them while on the weekends, up in the hills or on a track, they can put BMWs to shame.

But would you buy these cars for the price of a high-spec GTI?



Why? Easy. They're too expensive for the US market. They're not sedans either, which is an advantage in Europe (who under 60 buys a compact sedan?) but a disadvantage in the US.

Why is the largest Western Europe Toyota car smaller than a Camry? Or why is the largest EU market Honda (car) sold in the US as the Acura TSX? The largest EU-market GM car is the Opel Insignia, rebadged in the the US as the Buick Regal where it's suddenly become/marketed as a somewhat sporty and luxury vehicle. Why? Because consumers expect completely different things in their cars.

The US has comically cheap gas, poor infrastructure (I'm told) and long, straight and wide roads. That's different from Europe, hence the difference in the type of cars people buy.