Anyone who has ever travelled across an ocean is well aware of the sea of cool cars that never made it over to our side of the pond. If you’ve ever yearned for the modern Renault Alpine or that Honda S660 that you might have seen on Top Gear, you know what we’re on about. Your author also feels the utes that Bruce and Shelia Down Under got to enjoy for decades would have been very popular in this country.
But we’re not talking about those right now. This post is all about vehicles currently on sale in other markets that have names that are both grin-inducing and fun to say. Maybe the names were lost in translation or maybe it’s because the English language can’t capture the vibrancy of global markets. Mazda alone has some winners like the Bongo Brawny, the Flair, and the Carol, but your author is certain he missed your favourite one, so please be sure to tweet us @autoTRADER_ca with some good ones we might have missed.
Honda Freed G
Marketed in its home country of Japan as a family vehicle with sliding doors, the Freed G reminds us of the late Mazda5, though the Hiroshima hauler wasn’t nearly as imaginatively named as this Tokyo timbit. Its 1.5L engine makes about 130 horsepower and a hybrid version adds all-wheel drive. Fun fact: vans that are converted at the factory for mobility customers are – when directly translated – called “welfare vehicles.”
Isuzu Mysterious Utility X
The brand from Tokyo prefecture in Japan has applied the fabulous Mysterious Utility name to a number of vehicles over the years, currently advertising it as the mu-X. A real four-wheel drive system with low range and a decent 30.1-degree approach angle means you can take your Mystery Machine into the wilds without concern. We do wish the brand would bring back the hilariously named Mysterious Utility Wizard, though.
This spellcheck-vexing German micro-machine can be purchased in a few different variants, including a zippy GTI trim. That particular little fun factory cranks out roughly 115 horsepower from a 1.0L engine, filtered to the earth via a six-speed manual gearbox. With an unladen weight just north of 907 kg, the little up! makes for a neat rocket. For comparison, the Golf hatchback available in this country is 4,258-mm long, while the up! checks in at an even 3,600 mm, more than two feet shorter.
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Toyota Pixis Joy Turbo
Here is a pint-sized puck that, according to Toyota, is an “urban small car with elegantly shiny plating.” Words like that in the official literature are almost reason enough for this author to sell his worldly possessions and move to Japan. Despite a diminutive footprint, its front seats can fold completely flat to create one enormous sleeping surface. Its 660-cc engine can be paired with all-wheel drive.
Toyota Vellfire Z Golden Eyes
We’re sticking with Toyota for a minute because, seriously, if minivans were marketed over here with names like this, they’d have never gone out of style. This alternate-reality Sienna van has gold-coloured accents in its headlights and jet-black plating on most of its exterior trim. Inside, ultrasuede seats await along with nifty neon-style lights that line the edges of this Vellfire’s headliner. We’re sold.
Daihatsu Move Canbus
Here we find a five-door kei car with sliding doors and a three-cylinder engine making approximately 50 horsepower. According to the company, its name is derived from the car’s positive attitude (can) and its shape (bus), which drew inspiration from the Volkswagen Type 2 Transporter. Its seats can slide and fold into a number of configurations, creating a versatile space that makes the most of its available room. Perhaps the “can” prefix is appropriate after all. Pot-themed jokes would surely abound in this country if the Canbus was sold here.
The internet had a collective aneurism when the Buddy appeared last year, claiming it was proof positive that GM completely besmirched the Blazer name by slapping it onto the thing to which it is currently attached. If a (relatively) small manufacturer in Japan can pay appropriate homage to the square-body Chevrolet Blazer using a front-wheel-drive crossover as its base, why couldn’t The General? And, in the spirit of this list, the name Buddy is simply fun to say.
Nissan ROOX Highway Star G Turbo Urban Chrome
This runabout from Japan could also have made our recent list of vehicles bearing overly long names. Like several others on this list, the ROOX is a kei-class van with two sliding doors and a versatile interior. Seriously, when Doctor Who said the TARDIS is a lot bigger on the inside than it looks on the outside, he was surely talking about these little rigs.
Citroën Spacetourer Business
Not all entertaining names spawn from the lairy translation from Japanese to English. This commercial van from French carmaker Citroën sounds like something Elon Musk is planning to fire out of the SpaceX facility towards Mars. In actual fact, it is a well-kitted people-mover that can seat up to nine people in a variety of configurations. In homage to traditional French car weirdness, some seats can spin around like a fairground attraction.
Daihatsu Grand New Xenia
Anyone who still harbours a teenage crush over Lucy Lawless from the days when she portrayed Xena: Warrior Princess will surely appreciate the name of this car. Part of the Indian-market arm of Daihatsu, this crossover-esque vehicle might seem to wear the wheels from a grand piano but makes up for it with an aggressive front fascia that could very well serve as a stand in for Gillette’s next Mach razor.