Automotive News reported a bit of an improvement at AvtoVAZ’s sales. The firm makes Lada cars. How about we find out what they sell right now, this minute. You won’t read this at Car&Track.
“AvtoVAZ said it made a net profit of 609 million rubles ($9.70 million) in the first three months, reversing losses of 2.81 billion rubles for the same period last year,” reported ANE. Which is not all that interesting. More absorbing is the question of what you find if you have a gander a web-site which shows the cars Lada sells.
There seem to be seven models in their line-up: the Granta, the Kalina, the Priora, the Vesta, the X-Ray, the Largus and the 4×4. Annoyingly, the website’s front-page images are pixellated unless you update your web-browser, which I refuse to do to accommodate Lada.
Starting with the Granta: it comes in three flavours. One can have a saloon, a hatchback or a sports model. The base price is €4200. The car has been on sale since 2011 and there are three engine choices, versions of a 1.6 litre engine putting out 80, 90 and 98 hp normally.
Lada offers the Sport which has a 16v engine in two states of tune: 106 and 118 bhp. It’s feather light: the heaviest one weighs just over a tonne, unladen. The car replaced the venerable Samara and is co-produced with Renault. I imagined it is some form of a Clio-derivative but it isn’t. Its underpinnings date back to 1994.
Moving up in the range we come to the Kalina. You can have four versions. There is a hatch, an estate (little different in profile), the Cross (raised ride height) and the Sport. The base price is about €4800. The engines are the same as for the Granta though they are all the 16v version though I note the car weighs about a hundred kilos more. The Sport has the same engines and can attain 195 kmph. That is interesting. I wonder what that might be like to experience.
The Lada Priora comes next. Here is the 2017 version:
At Lada’s website you can see the 2018 model with a different grille. Call me odd, but the car is not bad in a retro way from the b-pillar back (seen from the front). The headlamps are wildly at odds with the rest. They need to be low, wide and slim not like a Ford Scorpio.
The price is now near €5000 for which you get a 1.6 litre engine in two states of tune: 87 and 106 hp. The Priora weighs 1163 kg. The Priora is a restyled Lada 110 which car first came into the world in 1995. In 2007 the Priora replaced the 110 and so replaced the Porsche-tuned body which had some claims to aerodynamic efficiency.
Wikipedia is out of date on this one. It reports that there is a 1.8 litre engine and some other body-styles. Lada’s website only shows the saloon, in a very nice metallic blue (not the white I have had to choose). The fuel tank is a very small 43 litres which says to me they had a packaging problem at some point.
€6750 is what one pays to enter the world of the Lada Vesta saloon. You can also get an off-roady version called the Cross. Having been launched in 2015, the Vesta is one of Lada’s newest cars. It uses the Renault Megane steering rack.
There is also an estate version which is like the Cross but without the plastic trim. At the Vesta level, the 1.8 litre engine comes into play, offering the driver 122 hp. The 1.6 engine is also available, producing 106 hp. Customers may have the choice of automatic or manual transmission. While the car weighs between 1230 and 1380 kg there is a 55 litre fuel tank to keep the engine supplied.
Auto & Design said this about the Cross: “Lada presents the design of the Vesta SW Cross, which combines the expressive design, crossover features, and multifunctionality. The car has inherited the main design features of its body from the Cross concept presented at Moscow Off-Road Show in 2015. The Lada Vesta SW Cross bears the philosophy of the X-shaped design, which is being a part of the brand’s DNA.”
I think the x-shaped body sculpting is only a styling trope and not something that will be there when the car is replaced. The designer seems to think he has invented something akin to the Hofmeister kink.
Here is some more: “According to Steve Mattin, Lada Design Director, this car will become a unique offer on the market and is intended to set the tone in its segment by breaking the stereotypes and attracting new customers. The Vesta SW Cross is the car that goes beyond the traditional segments. The owner of such car is a person that does not want to sacrifice the bright design to the practicality, a person that strives to find the perfect cars for all occasions, Mr. Mattin emphasized”.
In short, we find that Lada is very much a brand for its customers and driving environment. The narrow range of engines makes quite a lot of sense if customer wants to either work in it her or himself or wants a fighting chance the mechanic is familiar with the device.
This extreme example of limited engine choice makes one realise what the problem is with a brand offering seven engines (as is common enough in the C-class). It must be all but guaranteed that the more engines you offer the less opportunity there is for a mechanic to gain experience on any one of them. This only worsens with the passage of time.
Further, engines are not left alone for long: upgrades and revisions are common so that perhaps a specific engine variant may only be on sale for two or three years before a few components are altered. This is one reason why having a 14 year old car can be problematic.
We will return to the Lada range reasonably soon.