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With the Russian market growing into one of the largest in the world, automakers from around the world descended this past weekend on the Moscow Motor Show in pursuit of a slice of that pie. But you can bet that Lada, one of Russia's biggest domestic players, wasn't going to miss out on the opportunity to roll out its latest, and that's just what it did.

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There are many vehicles we'd consider taking racing. Even on a cross-country rally as punishing as the Dakar. But a Buick Encore? That's not one that would enter our motorsports-based consciousness. Yet it's basically what General Motors is entering in the South American rally raid this year, and you're looking at it.

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Those who were disappointed when Datsun changed its name to Nissan over three decades ago may have been pleased to see the marque revived last year, even as a budget brand. Nissan's counterpart to its ally Renault's Dacia budget brand, Datsun has been steadily expanding its lineup of low-cost transportation for developing markets with the debut of the Go hatchback in India, the Go+ minivan in Indonesia and the On-Do sedan in Russia. And now it has returned to Moscow to reveal its fourth model, t

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A couple of weeks ago, Chevrolet released a pair of shadowy teaser images previewing a new Niva. And now, with its live reveal at the Moscow Motor Show looming over the next snow-capped mountain, the Bowtie brand has taken the wraps off the new concept.

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A major player in the Russian market, BMW is heading to the Moscow Motor Show this month with a slew of local debuts... most of which we've already seen. But among all the new models making the trek from Bavaria to Moscow will be the new X5 Security Plus.

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It's not every day that a new Niva comes along. Lada has, after all, been producing its version since 1977, and through a joint venture between AvtoVaz and General Motors, a Chevy-badged version since 1998. Sure, there's been talk of creating a new one. Bertone even gave it a facelift a few years ago. But what we have here could be the biggest step forward in the history of one of the oldest models still on the road.

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It's no secret that crossovers are one of the key vehicle types driving today's auto industry profits, and nowhere is that more true than among the world's luxury brands. BMW became one of the first players in the luxury CUV segment when it launched its original X5 in 1999, and buoyed by that model's runaway success, it followed up with the X3 in 2003, the X6 in 2008 and the X1 in 2009 (though the latter didn't make it to the US until late 2012). It's replaced the X5 twice since then and the X3

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If the current BMW X6, introduced in 2008, is looking a bit too bland for your tastes, have no fear as the next-generation model is reportedly going to be larger and more aggressive than its predecessor.

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Has the Moscow Motor Show reached international relevance? If one were to look at the recent unveilings from Russia, the evidence may support that theory.

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When is the last time you watched five minutes of video on a Lada that didn't involve dual power windows, fires or Fifth Gear? Don't feel bad if the answer is, "What's Russian for 'never'?", but now's a good time to change that. Lada wants the world to know that it's no longer the old Lada, revealing its very brown and rather sleek XRay concept at the Moscow Motor Show, and it didn't stop at taking a mound of photos in order to show it off.

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We've seen the tactic plenty of times before: an automaker that wants to up its game, so it hires a designer from a brand it seeks to emulate, then releases concepts that make people go "Ooh la la." Lada is the latest, having hired Steve Mattin to be its design head. Mattin is coming off tenures as senior designer at Mercedes-Benz and chief designer at Volvo before emigrating to the Russian side of life (although the company's design bureau is in Milan, Italy).

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The Moscow Motor Show may be hotter than we previously though. Right on the heels of the debut of the next Mazda6, the Japanese automaker has revealed that it will continue to develop rotary engines and is also working on a range-extended vehicle.

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Nissan has taken advantage of the Moscow Motor Show to unveil a new Russian-specific sedan with an old name. The Nissan Almera is a new offering that will be built in Russia and feature attributes that, according to Nissan, "meet the unique demands of the Russian market." What exactly does that mean? The Almera features raised ground clearance (just check out the gaps in the wheel wells), special anti-corrosion treatment for the chrome bits and added production for the underbody.

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Mazda has made the unusual choice of selecting the Moscow Motor Show to unveil its all-new 2014 Mazda6. The mid-size sedan looks very sharp, and powered by the Japanese automaker's latest line of Skyactiv engines, it ought to be efficient and solid to drive, as well.

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Mazda has officially kicked off production of the 2014 Mazda6 at its Hofu No. 2 plant in Japan's Yamaguchi prefecture. The car in the photo above is a European-spec Mazda6 wagon, equipped with the automaker's 2.0-liter Skyactiv-G gasoline inline-four, and it's the first undisguised look we have at the rakish estate.

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Hyundai RB Concept – Click above for high-res image gallery

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2011 Toyota Highlander – Click above for high-res image gallery

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2011 Ford Mondeo – Click above for high-res image gallery

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2011 Ford Mondeo – Click above for high-res image gallery

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