Over the years we've received used imported cars which never enjoyed official export from Japan, even though they deserved to be.
Here's five top missed opportunities.
Later models were re-badged front-drive Maximas, but the rear-drive A31 Cefiro from 1988-1994 looked good, provided good space and shared six-cylinder drivetrains with the Skyline of the time including AWD. Could've easily been a 5-series competitor if marketed well. Now a very cheap used car.
Another car that could have done better as an export, the Stagea was aimed at Volvo's 850/V70 wagon but soon gained a fine reputation of its own. Built from 1996 to 2007 with a redesign in 2001, it used in-line Skyline and V6 Z-car motors with RWD, AWD and turbo options. The US would've loved it.
Not to be confused with the early Land Rover Discovery based models, the 2007-2010 Crossroad replaced the old HR-V in Japan and offered 2WD and AWD with 1.8 and 2.0-litre engines, and up to seven seats. Honda didn’t export the car in case it hurt CR-V sales. We don’t think it would have.
A derivative of the early Mazda DY/Ford Fiesta joint venture, the Verisa has been built since 2004 and offers a tall, airy bodystyle, targeting the compact family/city car market in Japan. It's surprisingly roomy, offers 2WD and AWD and could have gone very well in Europe. A great used import buy here.
The IST I and II sell well as used imports, and were launched as Scions in the US with 2WD or AWD and 1,3L-1.8L engines. The IST II got to Australia and Europe as the Urban Cruiser, but never came here as a new car. It could fill Toyota NZ’s currently empty compact SUV slot very easily.
- Sunday Star Times