Trans-Siberian Railway 2013: Kazan, Tatarstan Photo Report

2 Lada SamaraLada Samara in Kazan, Tatarstan Russia – September 2013

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This is part 3 of a Trans-Siberian Photo Report. You can see all other Parts of this long-term Photo Report here. We are now off to Kazan, 800 km East of Moscow in the Republic of Tatarstan, Russia. Now that Russia’s biggest cities and their twisted car parks are out of the way, I figured Ladaland would start. And judging by the car landscape of the countryside I saw from the train approaching Kazan, it is definitely the case, with around 75% of vehicles being Ladas.

1 Lada GrantaLada Granta

This ratio goes down significantly once in Kazan but there is now definitely a much higher proportion of Ladas than there were in St Petersburg or Moscow. This is an opportune moment to make one remark: I only ever had time to explore the centre of each city I will take you through which may weigh the car park a little towards foreign brands and less Ladas, keep this in mind when you read the next Reports and please do comment on each article if you live in the city I’m describing and have a different view of its car landscape.

3 Chevrolet CobaltChevrolet Cobalt

A few minutes walking around in Kazan and one thing is for sure: the Lada Granta is definitely the best-seller here, holding a much larger market share than its national 6.3% average so far in 2013, I would say between 12 and 15%. They are literally everywhere, as taxis or passenger cars, two, three, four in a row – no doubt about it Kazan loves the Granta. The Lada Largus has also had a fantastic start here and could possibly claim a spot on the Kazan podium. The words of Vladimir from the Russian #1 magazine Zarulev: “the Russians have been waiting for a car like the Largus” cannot resonate better than here in Kazan.

4 Kia RioKia Rio and Lada Kalina station wagon

6 Hyundai Solaris Daewoo MatizDaewoo Matiz and Hyundai Solaris

The entire Lada range is still extremely well represented in this city, starting with droves of Kalina (especially the break variant as taxi), Samara, 110, Priora and Zhiguli in this order. I even saw my first Kalina II just next to the railway station. With the St Petersburg and Moscow markets I was starting to feel I was in a different country than Russia, so it’s good to finally see a car landscape that is much closer to the monthly national rankings I have been publishing!

5 Lada Granta Lada KalinaLada Granta and Kalina station wagon

The second striking element looking at Kazan streets is the strength of Chevrolet. Lots of Lacetti and Optra show Kazan’s love affair with the American carmaker is not new. As a logical consequence, this is by far the city where I saw the most Chevrolet Cobalt, a model I didn’t know was on sale in Russia until I spotted one in St Petersburg, but dozens of them in Kazan. The Cruze is also very popular here, but interestingly and contrary to what is the norm in Russia for this segment, the hatchback variant seems to be more successful than the sedan. And the Niva is of course everywhere.

7 Renault DusterRenault Duster x 2

8 Lada SamaraLada Samara

The Kia Rio could claim the 2nd spot in Kazan’s sales charts, with the Hyundai Solaris and Renault Duster not far behind. If the French SUV was making itself sparse in St Petersburg and Moscow, it has definitely convinced Kazan car buyers, who appreciate smaller SUVs like the Opel Mokka, surprisingly frequent in spite of its very recent launch, SsangYong Korando, Kia Sportage and new generation Toyota RAV4.

11 Kazan trafficKazan traffic

There are way more Daewoo Matiz and Nexia than in the two previous cities I visited and way less Ford Focus and VW Polo. Lots and lots of GAZ Gazelle LCV in all formats, and I saw the new generation (“Gazelle Next”) for the first time here. Luxury models are still around but limited to SUVs or bigger versions of sedans, typically the BMW 5 Series GT and Honda Accord Crosstour which I was surprised to spot.

9 Great Wall HoverGreat Wall Hover

Finally, it will be remembered that the city I saw my very first new generation Toyota Corolla, likely to be one of the two best-selling cars in the world in 2014, was Kazan in Tatarstan, Russia. Who would have thought?

That was Kazan! I hope you enjoyed the coverage. Next stop: Yekaterinburg just beyond the Asian ‘border’…

Full Photo Report and estimated Top 10 models ranking below.

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