Engineered in Cranfield and made in the Togliatti factory that’s famous for manufacturing the Lada Riva of old, but never destined to be sold on these shores, this is the toughest Nissan Almera you’ll ever see. Highlights include salt-proof chrome, a shell that is four times stiffer than normal to cope with Russian roads and a screenwash mix that needed to be redeveloped because the initial version needed so much alcohol in it to stop it freezing that the locals drank it.
Jaguar XJ and XF AWD
Common sense dictates why the all-wheel-drive versions of the XF and XJ won’t be sold in the UK – the climate is simply too mild to mean there’s any prospect of significant sales. But when you read about the technology and the 50:50 torque split that can shift 100 per cent to the rear or 98 per cent to the front, you can’t help but wish you could get behind the wheel.
Subaru Forester TS
The Subaru Forester TS has previously only been sold in Japan, but is now going on sale in SUV-mad Russia. Its enhanced exterior and interior looks, suspension reworked by ace tuning offshoot STi and – perhaps above all – a 2.5-litre four-cylinder boxer engine that produces 259bhp and 256lb ft means you’ll be left envying them (or seeking import advice).
Confined to a minor sales role in Brazil, the once large(ish) selling Chevrolet Cobalt appeared to be slipping off the radar. Now, though, it’s back, re-engineered for the Russian market and set to go into full-scale production in Uzbekistan in 2013 as a budget saloon for the mass market. Like the Almera, it’s being built to withstand the harshest conditions for a low price.
Opel Astra saloon
This one is pushing into western markets – including to Germany and Spain – following its unveiling in the east, but there’s no chance of it coming to the UK because of the traditional love of hatchbacks. It’s a sister car to the Buick Verano, and powered by a seven-strong range of the latest GM engines, including a frugal 94bhp 1.3-litre oil-burner that emits just 99g/km of CO2.
Mazda 6 AWD
Bit of a cheeky one this, because nobody has actually confirmed there will be an all-wheel-drive version of the new Mazda 6. Equally, and perhaps most tellingly, they didn’t deny it either, company officials saying they “like the idea very much” and mentioning in passing the CX-5’s AWD capabilities. So, the possibility is there for a future date — unless you live in warmer climbs (and that includes the UK), where it’s unlikely to ever be offered.
Skoda Yeti Sochi
So we’re all Olympics experts now, right? Well, maybe not the Winter Olympics, given the bemused faces of western visitors when the special editon Skoda Yeti Sochi was unveiled alongside what was – presumably – a top exponent of one of the disciplines. Powered by a 150bhp 1.8 TSI engine and available only in four-wheel drive, the car is designed to promote the VW Group’s backing of the 2014 event. A cynical marketing exercise, then? Maybe a touch.
Mazda’s rotary-engined range extender
It wasn’t actually at the Moscow motor show, but Mazda boss Takashi Yamanouchi revealed that the rotary engine for which his company is so famous is far from dead, with its latest application set to appear – in Japan only, and available to lease only – in a range-extended car. Because the lightweight rotary engine only has to charge a battery, it can be run at a constant 2000rpm, where its efficiency is greatest.
Like the Chevroet Cobalt and Opel Astra saloon, the Peugeot 408 is a budget saloon created for emerging markets where the four-door bodystyle is popular. Essentially a booted version of the 308 hatch, the 408 is actually longer (at 4703mm) than the old 407 saloon. The 408 is made in Russia, at Peugeot's Kaluga plant, and comes with a 1.6-litre petrol engine.