Due to bad weather conditions, the plane circled over Izhevsk for about an hour. Having lost count of how many times the sun flashed through my window, I turned my attention to the flight attendants. The fact is that I and other journalists were invited to the ceremonial launch of the Lada Vesta sedan into production at the plant controlled by AvtoVAZ in IZHAvto.
After spending another half an hour in the air, we nevertheless sat down at the modest Izhevsk airport, which is one tiny building, an airstrip, a field and two and a half employees. Broken planes of the Izhavia company were repaired right in the open air, and the girl who met the passengers at the ramp then gave out their luggage. I won’t be surprised if she also fixes planes in between.
From the airport, we were immediately taken on an excursion to the shops of the IZHAvto plant, where a guide changed every hundred meters, and specially trained personnel wearing I love Lada T-shirts constantly urged us on, not allowing us to stop for a good shot. Nevertheless, between frequent requests to hurry up, we listened to the ambitious plans of AvtoVAZ, as well as to what grandiose work was done to modernize the plant.
Willy-nilly, you get distracted from your smartphone and begin to study the plant after the hundredth statement that the enterprise has become modern. Well, well: not a single electric car for transporting small loads and workers, the roads inside the enterprise are of exclusively Russian quality, and everything else looks like excellent scenery for the TV series "The Walking Dead". So, before talking about a modern plant, I would still visit Volkswagen in Wolfsburg.
Perhaps, most often, AvtoVAZ specialists in their speeches focused on the quality of stamping, welding, body geometry and painting. As for the latter, the range of colors includes black, white, gray, red, chameleon and green.
After numerous presentations and excursions, we finally got to the test drive. The appearance of Vesta is quite good. Especially in green, in my opinion. The car really looks fresh and pleasant. Stylish lines, alloy wheels, well, except that the rear drum brakes in the top configuration cut the eyes. When I asked why not disk drives, an AvtoVAZ employee, who was assigned to follow me, first rebooted, and then gave out a masterpiece: “This is a design matter”. Ah, so that's it!
Okay. We open the door, sit down in the salon and Vesta strikes out on the spot … The acrid smell of the terrible plastic interior trim, which, in the opinion of my interlocutor, was with a very beautiful ornament. More or less accustomed to this sophisticated aroma, I proceed to a detailed study. The pedal assembly is so soft, it's like pressing into sour cream, some scraps from stamping stick out on the plastic parts, everything is accompanied by creaks in the new car, half of the parts are loose, and the other half immediately falls off, and there are also many horrible gaps around.
The car could not rehabilitate itself on the move. The petrol 1.6-liter 16-valve "four" for its 106 forces pulled the car quite tolerably well, but the one-disk "robot" with its work brought all the efforts of the engine to nothing. Before changing gear, the box drives the tachometer needle to the 6,000 rpm mark, holds it there for about two seconds and, lo and behold, the gear changes. In addition, this "exciting" process is accompanied by the sounds of the engine roaring with its last strength.
Probably only the suspension showed itself well. She easily swallowed all the bumps on the road and passed bends at speed without serious rolls. Yes, and a ground clearance of 178 millimeters will not be superfluous on our roads.
At the presentation, the president of AvtoVAZ, Bo Andersson, constantly emphasized that the Vesta is a 100% Russian car. I completely agree with him. Here, only we have different reasons. Andersson means details, engineering and stuff. In my opinion, what makes Vesta truly Russian is the approach with which it was created: expensive is good, cheap is bad.
This feature in our mentality is also confirmed by people who are dissatisfied with my unflattering reviews about the car, making a remark to me that I want from Lada the same thing that is in Audi. Yes, to some extent it is. I'm not asking for leather, massage and a V8 engine, but I just want it to be assembled efficiently and reliably, despite the availability of the car. After all, if a car costs from 500 to 600 thousand rubles (the approximate price of Vesta), this does not mean that it is not collected for people!
Best regards, Mikhail Tataritsky