The Top 3 Most Overlooked New Cars—Video

Why drive the same thing everyone else is driving?

Fact: Automotive marketing revolves around brand image. The pricier the segment, the more the purchasing decision is influenced by stirrings deep down in the core rather than the cerebral cortex. In other words, style, more than any other factor, becomes the sole differentiator. Because, let's face it: When it comes to performance, comfort, safety, and reliability, all contemporary cars are more or less equal (within their competitive segments, at least).

But that's also where the perils lie: Why drop large coin on something so wrapped up in your self-image if you run the risk of spotting an identical emblem of self-image (literally) around the corner? Spot a carbon copy of the S-Class you just eliminated your savings for, and the mind reels, the wind slowly exits your sails. The solution, then, is to seek out overlooked gems that are not destined to become volume sellers. Like these three stunners, for example:

Alfa Romeo Guilia Quadrifoglio

Legacy carmaker Alfa Romeo's long absence from the U.S. market (from 1995 through 2008, the company ceased exporting to the States) makes it a niche player with low name recognition. Younger buyers have no memory of the brand, so most of them will gravitate to established German and Japanese sure-bets. But for those willing to take the leap, the over-achieving Alfa will not disappoint, and is sure to delight drivers with top-notch performance and turn heads with unique aesthetics.

BMW 8 Series M850i

BMW led the trend among mainstream automakers offering bespoke interior appointments, exterior paint colors, exotic wheels, and other off-the-menu requests guaranteed to ensure that your car is one-of-a-kind. And now, the new 8 signals the brand's upmarket shift with even more premium models and greater customization options.

Think of the 8 as a more robust version of the 6 Series, which was never a big seller despite great looks and decent performance. Expect the same for the 8, battling juggernauts Mercedes S-Class, Porsche Panamera, and Tesla Model S. The latter of which outsells the former two—as well as BMW's 6 Series and all Cadillacs—combined. (Let that sink in. They're becoming as common as Camrys.) To keep demand strong, BMW must ensure high residual value and exclusivity by limiting production, so the sensational new 8 Series should be a fairly rare sight.

Acura NSX

In an episode of South Park ("H*ll on Earth 2006," season 10, episode 11), the Devil's big birthday bash is ruined due to a screwup at the bakery, where his request for a cake in the shape and size of a Ferrari arrives instead as an Acura. As enraged Satan rants, a lone voice offers a quiet consolation: "Acuras are nice."

"South Park punchline" more or less sums up the brand's perpetual second-tier status. But Acura gets nowhere near the respect it often deserves. Case in point: the second generation NSX.

Honda realized all too well it needed a superlative halo machine to cast fairy dust over its brand. Anything less than stellar would have been a major setback. By most accounts, they exceeded their goal, though the car remains under the radar. For those with the stones to roll up in something ostentatious and unique, the NSX delivers real supercar bona fides with leading-edge technology. You just have to come to terms with the fact it is not a Ferrari. But, hey, neither is the price.

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