Jamaica is one of only a handful of countries in the Western Hemisphere that has left-handed traffic. This means that although some of the makes of cars seen on the roads of Jamaica, such as Nissan, Toyota and Mitsubishi, may be familiar, the models sold there are rarely seen in most other countries.
Since Jamaica is considered to be a relatively impoverished nation, many people cannot afford their own personal cars, so there are several commuter-style vans on the road, including the Toyota HiAce. The slenderness of the HiAce allows it to pass other vehicles on the narrow Jamaican roads, while its high roof provides extra headroom for the passengers in the carriage. In the newest models, according to Toyota, the engine has been "shifted forward," and the body of the car is "more squared," which in turn has created more space for cargo and/or passengers.
Nissan is one of the car brands that can be found consistently in dealerships throughout Jamaica. A common model is the Tiida, which comes in both a sedan and a hatchback form. The Tiida is an economy-sized vehicle which, in its latest version, according to Nissan, enhances "intake/exhaust efficiency, thermal efficiency" and "fuel consumption." The car has the torque to handle highway driving, but is ultimately designed for the hazardous streets of the larger cities such as a Kingston and Spanish Town.
Although sports cars are not abundant in Jamaica, Mitsubishi does sell the Lancer in several outlets on the island. It's clear that the Lancer is a sporty ride simply from its sleek body, which includes a rear spoiler and alloy rims. As far as performance goes, the car has a wide wheelbase, which allows it to make fast and sharp turns, and the same four-wheel independent suspension found in rally racing, a popular sport in Jamaica.
According to the Suzuki Jamaican timeline, the company's Swift vehicle became one of the country's most popular cars in the early 1980s and has been a high-selling model ever since. The Swift, which is available in three separate engine sizes, has a compact frame, not unlike the Mini, which allows the car to maneuver through tight spaces and small city streets. As of 2009, Suzuki's Swift model began to be used for many Jamaican police patrol cars.
- Photo Credit Milk & Honey Creative/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images
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