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When news came through that the Lincoln Navigator, a large American luxury SUV, would soon be available in Australia, we started thinking… what other foreign badges could we see on local roads?
In the case of the Lincoln, the 336kW/691Nm SUV is imported and converted to right-hand-drive by International Motor Cars, the same mob that remanufactures the Cadillac Escalade and Dodge Challenger for Australia.
This practice is a costly affair, with the Lincoln Navigator Black Label expected to check in from $274,900 plus on-road costs. For context, the same model in left-hand-drive guise costs $US97,135 ($A$153,961) in the States.
Despite the high price, the business case may very well stack up, as a particular group of buyers seem willing to pay a premium for the exclusivity that only a vehicle like this can deliver.
Could other car brands make it in Australia's competitive market? These are the ones we'd like to see Down Under.
Acura was established in the United States in 1986, and currently offers a range of sedans and SUVs, as well as the resurrected NSX sports car. Its TLX performance sedan is available with a 216kW V6 engine matched with a torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive system, variable valve timing (i-VTEC) and a nine-speed automatic transmission.
The Acura RDX crossover SUV could also be a good fit for Australia, with its premium looks and technology loaded cabin.
While the Honda MDX seven-seater was discontinued for Australia in 2007, the nameplate lives on with Acura. Pitched as a premium three-row offering, the Acura MDX plays against the BMW X5 and Mercedes-Benz GLE.
Renault’s budget subsidiary Dacia could also have a place in Australia, as the Romanian carmaker plans to launch “Europe’s most affordable all-electric vehicle” in 2021.
Renault has also expressed interest in importing the Dacia Duster-based Oroch dual-cab pick-up.
Since its release in 2010, the Duster has been a smash hit overseas, selling in more than 100 countries with a number of engine and drivetrain configurations. The Duster even found a home at the Vatican as the latest Popemobile.
With its quirky looks and proven reliability, the Duster could be positioned as a cheaper alternative to the Nissan Qashqai and Mitsubishi ASX, and a pick-up version would certainly garner interest in local showrooms.
Volkswagen subsidiary SEAT (pronounced say-art) sold vehicles in Australia from 1995 to 1999, albeit with limited success. It is unlikely that SEAT will make a return to local shores as similar VW sub-brand Skoda is considered the more viable subsidiary.
The Leon sports a sleek exterior design and a minimalist cabin, and notably, is available with a plug-in hybrid powertrain.
Its stylish SUVs, such as the Tarraco and Ateca, have also proven popualr in the past.
You would be excused for not knowing much about this brand, but in fact Hongqi is China's oldest passenger car manufacturer.
While the afformentioned carmakers focus on the budget side of the market, Hongqi produces high-end luxury vehicles. As it happens, the Hongqi L5 luxury sedan is credited as the most expensive Chinese-made car ever released.
The long and low L5 is often used to chauffeur high-ranking government officials, and is powered by either a 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 or a 6.0-litre naturally aspirated V12.
French hypercar specialist Bugatti may not have a local sales agent, but in this world, money talks.
Bugatti's latest model, the Chiron, starts at a base price of around $US3,800,000 ($A5,900,000), and that number gets significantly larger as you add import duties, taxes and freight costs.
The Chiron does not comply with Australian design rules, although it's possible that a limited number of units could be brought in as special interest vehicles.
Using an 8.0-litre quad-turbo W16 engine, delivering 1119kW and 1600Nm, the Chiron is easily one of the fastest production cars in the world, if not the fastest.
With a number of once-popular compact cars being discontinued in Australia, like the Honda Jazz and Hyundai Accent, and others moving more upmarket, there could be an opportunity for a new type of budget-oriented city car.
Indian company Tata Motor Cars builds a range of sleek and efficient vehicles in right-hand-drive, but few would pass Australia's much stricter safety standards.
But there is hope, as Tata's Altroz hatchback managed to achieve a five star Global NCAP safety rating ahead of its launch this year.