For years, American Honda enthusiasts yearned for a chance to drive the Type R, a high performance variant of the Civic that was offered on overseas Civics since 1997. Honda finally gave in to the cries of Type R fans when it brought the sporty variant to the U.S. with the latest FK8 generation, which takes the already aggressive base model to the extreme with vast air intakes, a wing that looks like it wants to poke your eye out, and even roof-mounted vortex generators. However, while Honda listened to its most passionate fans and at long last gave the U.S. the hardcore Civic, there are still numerous sports cars and performance variants that the United States misses out on.
These forbidden fruit sports cars usually don’t reach the U.S. market for one of four reasons. Firstly, the brand might not even sell any cars here, such as with Renault or Peugeot. Secondly, the brand has an American presence but the base model which the performance version is based on is not offered here, such as with the VW Polo GTI. In other cases—and often with lightweight track cars—it is simply not road legal in the U.S. Finally, many of the hot hatches and wagons are denied a U.S. introduction because the beancounters determined the body style is not popular enough in the Land of the Free. However, the Type R has received high praise from countless publications and is generating substantial sales buzz for Honda. Hopefully, this convinces more automakers to bring their fire-breathing sports cars to the United States market. In the meantime, let’s take a look at what we’re missing out on.
MERCEDES-BENZ A45 AMG
Another contestant in Europe’s crowded hot hatch battle is the Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG, which is based on the A-Class. The A-Class is Mercedes’ compact hatchback, which is not sold in the United States but forms the basis for the swoopy CLA-Class that we do receive. Thus the A45 is quite similar to the CLA45 AMG that’s sold in America—extremely quick but also a bit too firm and quite expensive.
Regardless, the A45 AMG is an impressive package.
Its tiny 2.0L turbo-inline-four churns out 376 bhp—the 187.5 hp-to-liter ratio of the A45 actually matches that of the Bugatti Chiron, according to Top Gear. With 350 lb-ft of torque, the A45 rockets to 62 mph in 4.2 seconds.
The front of the A45 looks awfully similar to the CLA-Class, with penetrating headlights flanking a rectangular grille and a huge three-pointed star. A fluid character line runs along the side sill before flicking up over the rear wheel arch and into the stubby tail. Similar to the GLA45 AMG, a performance crossover based on the same platform, a chunky roof spoiler can be added for extra attitude. Some predict the next generation A-Class to be brought to the United States, although the consensus is that it would be in sedan form rather than hatchback form.