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Auto blogWed, 03 Sep 2014 07:58:00 EST
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.
Unveiled at the Moscow Motor Show, this rally machine is based on (or at least billed as) an Opel Mokka - the name that GM's European brand applies to the vehicle Americans know as the Encore, Buick's subcompact crossover. Only it's obviously been extensively modified. It's got a ten-inch raised suspension, a 137-gallon fuel tank, carbon-fiber bodywork and... hold on, we're sure we're missing something here. Oh, right: a 6.2-liter V8 kicking out 340 horsepower and 487 pound-feet of torque to all four wheels through a six-speed sequential gearbox.
In other words, this is not the same Encore (or Mokka) you can pick up at your local Buick, Opel or Vauxhall dealership. It's not even close. It's not even recognizable as such, really. It was unveiled alongside a more sedate Opel Mokka Moscow Edition and a slew of other local debuts for the Opel brand that you can read more about in the (translated and original) Russian press release below.
Answering The $30,000 Entry-Level Luxury Question
Twenty years ago, a comparison between an entry-level Buick and Acura would have matched a Skylark against an Integra.
Twenty years ago, a comparison between an entry-level Buick and its Acura equivalent would have matched a Skylark against an Integra. The unfair battle would have resulted in the compact American's defeat in nearly every measurable category, as the Japanese competitor was arguably at the height of its powers.
Ignored On Arrival, But Coming On Strong
An image exists out there that perfectly conveys the fate we thought would befall the Buick Encore after its world debut at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show. The shot shows the just-unveiled Encore on stage, basking in the glow of spotlights but surrounded by a large display area that's bereft of both cars and people. Two journalists are sitting on a couch over to the side, both facing the Encore but ignoring it as they inspect their swag, and a solitary custodial engineer pushes a vacuum back and forth across a sea of gray carpet.
Like a kid with his birthday cake at a party no one came to, this little crossover's debut was largely, almost cruelly, ignored. Who can blame us, though? Two shows ago, the Motor City's main stage welcomed the redesigned Aston Martin-esque Ford Fusion, the 3 Series-assassin ATS from Cadillac and the return of Dodge to the small car game with the Dart. A fourth model for the wayward Buick brand, especially one so arguably un-Buick in form and function, did not seem to deserve the attention paid to its peers that year.