I don’t think there’s ever been a Russian (or before that, Soviet) built car officially sold in America, unless you count some rich dudes who may have bought a Marussia B2 supercar at some point. That may change by 2022, when Bremach, which was once an Italian truck maker, will be attempting to sell Russian UAZ Patriots in America as the Bremach Taos SUV and Brio pickup trucks.
Bremach has actually been around since 1956, founded in Italy and building dump trucks and other sorts of heavy-duty utility vehicles for decades, until it went under in 2018.
The American subsidiary hung on, though, and worked out a deal with Russia’s UAZ, a company that most Americans are aware of via media like HBO’s Chernobyl, where UAZ 469 jeep-like vehicles and the amazing UAZ 452 vans — which happen to look a lot like a horrified Hank Hill — caught the attention of Weird Car Lovers everywhere.
The UAZ Patriot, however, is a much more modern and conventional sort of vehicle, and a much safer bet to sell in 2022 America. The current version, released in 2005, is a body-on-frame SUV that looks modern enough, though with slightly taller and boxier proportions than most mainstream SUVs. I kinda like it, though, of course, I’d prefer weirder, but we know that’s not happening if you want to sell here in America.
The Taos will come with a six-speed automatic (though a six-speed manual will be available, too) made by GM, the same unit that was used in Cadillac SLS and Chevy Colorado, among other vehicles.
The gears in that transmission will be spun by a 2.7-liter inline-four making a fairly modest (but likely adequate?) 150 horsepower, and Bremach is making a big deal of letting us all know that there will be a 10-year/120,000-mile powertrain warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty, even if the website’s descriptive text doesn’t quite get this right:
Yeah, no one wants a 0 year/0 mile warranty.
Seriously, though, a generous warranty is a proven way for an unknown to enter a new market. That’s how Hyundai first got its foothold in America with the not-so-great Excels in the 1980s.
The pricing looks pretty aggressive as well: The Taos SUV is set to start at $26,405, and the Brio pickup starting at $27,882. For a body-on-frame SUV (or truck) that’s not bad, with the lower end of that market in America starting with the $28,315 Jeep Wrangler two-door.
I think I like the tall look on the pickup as well; they feel just a bit other, in a way that makes them interesting. Plus, it looks like the size of these isn’t absurdly huge like so many modern pickups sold in America.
I asked our own off-road expert, David Rostliebe Tracy, for a very quick assessment of how these Bremachs might be off road:
It’ll probably hold its own against the Land Cruiser and Grand Cherokee. Considerable ground clearance (8.26 inches) wading depth (19.68 inches), approach (35 degrees) and departure (30 degrees). Good geometry, also has a low-range.
Yeah, it’ll get it done.
So, that’s a pretty good speculative endorsement right there.
The interiors look a bit dated but not too bad, and they seem to have most of the expected electro-candy and safety features of a modern car, which they helpfully list with a nice graphical chart:
The question here is, will they actually make it to market? We’ve seen other companies try to bring cars from other markets to the U.S. with lots of promise and then nothing; I’m thinking about almost getting Mahindra trucks in America in the mid-2000s, for example.
But, who knows? Maybe this’ll work! These things seem useful and rugged enough, and if they’re cheap and have decent warranties, they may be able to convince Americans to take the plunge into those cold Siberian waters.
I’m curious to see how this all plays out.