The sleek Europe-only Mondeo is the best-looking Ford not to make it to the U.S. The new Mondeo is a really good-looking car, with a toned-down version of the big signature grille being used on Ford's U.S. models. The Mondeo offers a wide range of gas and diesel engines in Europe. The top gas engine is a 2.5-liter five cylinder.
Ford offers a number of tech features not seen in its U.S. cars, such as keyless start and adaptive cruise control. Navigation, hands-free calling, and a range of stereos are also available. The equivalent-size car in the U.S. market, the 500, hasn't met sales expectations and is about to be rebranded as the Taurus. Ford might do better by bringing the new Mondeo over.
The Mazda2 is another Europe-only model. Mazda gives its subcompact a design overhaul for 2008 with some new zoom-zoom styling. The new Mazda2 also sheds 220 pounds over the previous model and gets two engine choices: a 1.3-liter or a 1.5-liter four cylinder. A diesel engine is also available.
There are Honda Civics and there are European Honda Civics. Drivers across the pond get a totally unique body style compared with the U.S. and Japanese versions, which is intended to appeal to a more youthful market.
Diesels are slowly making their way back into the U.S. market, but it might be a while before we see the Cooper D on this side of the Atlantic. The Euro-only model packs a 1.6-liter diesel engine that puts out a whopping 192 pounds per foot of torque and gives the car an average gas mileage of 64.2 mpg.
The Japan-only Nissan March is a variation on the Europe-only Nissan Micra (hey, Nissan--what about us?). Despite being a compact economy model, the March is available with a "Plus navi HDD" package, which gives it a hard-disc-drive-based navigation system complete with 30GB drive.
The Toyota Crown has been been a Japan-only institution for the last 50 years. The crown is the S-Class of Toyota's lineup (Lexus branded cars are not sold in Japan). The Crown hybrid concept provides a sneak peek at the next generation of the model, and comes with a TFT (thin film transistor) LCD "Finegraphic Meter" to provide the driver with a variety of information in an easier-to-see and easier-to-understand way. No, we're not quite sure what that is, either. I guess we'll never get to find out.
In Japan, the Infiniti G37 is branded as the Nissan Skyline 370GT, a model name with a lot of history as the basis for a successful racecar. Lucky Japanese drivers get to control the five-speed automatic rocket with paddle shifters mounted to the steering wheel--an option that, alas, did not make it over to the U.S.
Unlike the that of the G37, the Skyline's navigation system offers a feature called "Carwings." This Japan-only option makes certain Internet information, such as local search, available to the driver.
Another hot hatch that won't be making the trip west is the Audi S3, a factory-tuned version of Ingolstadt's baby 'bahn burner. The 2-liter turbocharged S3 comes with some respectable performance stats of its own. Its four-cylinder engine conjures up a whopping 265 horsepower, getting the all-wheel-drive S3 to 60 mph in less than 5.7 seconds.