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Trans-Siberian Railway 2013: Tomsk, Siberia Photo Report

1 GAZ logoGAZ logo

This is Part 6 of my Trans-Siberian Photo Report. You can see all other Parts of this long-term Photo Report here. We are moving 940km North East of Omsk to… Tomsk (hard to not confuse the two but I will do my best). And I am happy to report that at last, the Tomsk car landscape is looking pretty much like what one would expect from Russia. By this I mean a full blanket of Zhiguli, reinforced by many Lada 110 and Kalina welcomed me as I came out of the train station. Reassuring to see all the Zhigulis are not on the verge of extinction.

2 Renault Logan Lada ZhiguliRenault Logan, Lada 4×4 and Zhiguli in front of the Tomsk “Voksal” (train station)

In the same vein, the Lada Granta is clearly the best-selling new car here, it has been vastly adopted by taxi companies and the police, which says it all. I saw many new-looking Lada Priora, a tough achievement in a city where most cars seem to get instantly covered by mud, which could still mean a Top 3 ranking for the model which has gone down drastically nationally in 2013.

1 Lada GrantaLada Granta

3 Chevrolet NivaChevrolet Niva

4 Hyundai SolarisHyundai Solaris and VW Touareg

The remaining podium step should be a tough fight between the Chevrolet Niva, seemingly at its best in Siberia, the Ford Focus which has a strong heritage here looking at the many previous gen models in the streets, the ever-present Hyundai Solaris, very consistently successful everywhere I’ve been, and the Renault Logan which if it does indeed manages a Top 3 ranking should send a big ‘Spasiba’ (Russian for ‘thank you’) letter to all the taxi drivers in the city that have chosen this model.

4b Izh OdaIzh Oda

6 GAZ Volga1967 GAZ Volga

6c GAZ Volga2004 GAZ Volga

Now that we have the best-sellers out of the way, to the specificities of Tomsk. First striking element and it has become clearer and clearer as I have gone East, Toyota should be the clear #2 brand here behind Lada. The Toyota Camry is everywhere in Tomsk, as are the Prado, Land Cruiser and Highlander. Plus I have seen two new generation Toyota Corolla which always stops me in my tracks with my mouth wide open as I have only seen this model in Russia – and also the reason why I wasn’t quick enough to take a few pics…

5 Toyota Land Cruiser Lada 4x4Toyota Land Cruiser and Lada 4×4

9 Subaru XVSubaru XV

The other brand clearly more successful here than in the other cities I passed is Subaru, with the XV already noticeable and a broad range of models spanning a few generations. That Subaru and Toyota get more successful as we ‘approach’ Japan (still 6,500 km away mind you) should not come as a surprise but it’s fascinating to actually see it happen before my eyes.

8 UAZ adGood old me in front of a UAZ Bukhanka billboard.Yep, you can still buy them new here!

The SUVs are back in force in Tomsk (compared to Omsk), perhaps because we have now entered ‘true’ Siberia and once you leave the city there doesn’t seem to be any sealed roads in sight based on what I could see from the train in the two hours preceding my arrival here. And believe me, even though we’re at the end of Summer here it’s already wet and I could see massive ruts on those roads all the way from the train, so a 4WD wouldn’t go amiss here.

7 UAZ PatriotUAZ Patriot

The Renault Duster, new generation Toyota RAV4, Kia Sportage and Nissan Juke (even though technically not a 4WD) are the most popular. Tomsk drivers also seem to have completely fallen in love with the Kia Soul: I saw way more of them than any other city I have passed. I’m also seeing more and more UAZ Patriot, Hunter and Lada 4×4 as I go East, including brand-new ones.

10 Lexus RX Infiniti FXInfiniti FX and Lexus RX

10b Infiniti QX56Infiniti QX56

Among luxury vehicles, a very special mention goes to the Lexus RX: I literally saw the current generation at every street corner, a ratio to the overall traffic potentially higher to St Petersburg or Moscow which in itself is extremely impressive. I now got used to the ‘resident’ Infiniti FX and Tomsk follows the trend. Other models I saw more often than in the previous cities I passed include the new generation Chevrolet Aveo sedan, Hyundai Elantra and Skoda Fabia.

11 Jinbei GranseJinbei Granse

Virtually no Chinese in Tomsk, which is a surprise as I thought I would see an increase the further East I went. I saw my first Jinbei Granse here, but the other 4 lonely models (in 36 hours!) were the unexotic Lifan Solano, Chery Cielo, QQ6 and Indis. Still an odd American trait to the Tomsk car landscape with two Toyota Tundra (made in the US) and one Chevrolet Camaro spotted.

12 Toyota Will CyphaTwo birds unfazed by the outrageous fluorescent orange robe of this Toyota Will Cypha

Last but not least, on to the Japanese imports. To be honest I was half-expecting the entire Tomsk traffic to be driving on the other side of the road, but not so. If anything I believe the Japanese imports ratio may have slightly declined compared to Omsk but then again I may just be getting used to it by now. Most popular are the Toyota Ist, Japanese spec Corolla, Funcargo and Nissan Primera. Other frequent nippons include the Toyota Probox, Spacio, Opa, Noah, Will VS, and I spotted one Nissan Lafesta, one Mitsubishi Delica and… get this: not one, not two but three Toyota Will Cypha, including one in a flashy fluorescent orange robe! I don’t think I could have picked that many in the whole of Japan itself!

That was Tomsk for you, hope the trip was pleasant enough. Next stop: Krasnoyarsk!

Full Photo Report and estimated Top 10 models below.

Tomsk – September 2013 rough estimate:

1Lada Granta
2Lada Priora
3Chevrolet Niva
4Ford Focus
5Renault Logan
6Hyundai Solaris
7Toyota Camry
8Renault Duster
9Toyota RAV4
10Kia Sportage

13 Kia SoulKia Soul

13 Toyota IstUnder the mud, it’s a Toyota Ist!

13b Toyota HighlanderToyota Highlander

13c Toyota Camry Lexus RXLexus RX and Toyota Camry

14 Toyota Corolla Lada SamaraJapanese spec Toyota Corolla and Lada Samara

15 Nissan LafestaNissan Lafesta

16 Mitsubishi Mirage DingoMitsubishi Mirage Dingo

17 Hyundai ElantraHyundai Elantra

18 Renault DusterRenault Duster

19 Lada Granta Kia Ceed Lada SamaraKia Cee’d, Lada Granta and Lada Samara

20 Lada 110Lada 110

21 Renault LoganRenault Logan

22 Chevrolet NivaChevrolet Niva

23 Daewoo NexiaDaewoo Nexia

24 Lada GrantaLada Granta

25 Infiniti FX Kia RioKia Rio and Infiniti FX

26 Kia Sportage Lada ZhiguliKia Sportage and Zhiguli

29 MoskvitchMoskvitch

31 Lada GrantaA Lada Granta spotted from the train before arriving in Tomsk

This Post Has 20 Comments
  1. hi matt, what i mean its all dirty ,muddy or dusty are they all used to it ive been in many places, other country in china, japan, hongkong, middle east ,singapore and even here in the philippines seldom you will see cars thats dirty

    1. That’s because there is a lot of dust and mud in countryside Russia and as soon as you leave the cities the roads are unpaved. Russia being such a large country (the largest in the world), it is almost impossible to have paved roads absolutely everywhere. So it’s not so much that people don’t take care of their cars, they do, it’s that your car gets dirty with one day of driving so you’d need to wash it every single day of the year…
      Hope this makes sense.

  2. hi matt!!! why most of the picture you have shown are not neat? perhaps car in russia are more of necessity rather than luxury??? just asking

  3. @matt
    very interesting journey, indeed. I wonder, in which condition the roads in russia are. I was told by a guy, who mainly lives in russia, that the streets there have to be rebuild every two years due to the hard cold winters. What is your impression ?

  4. Great pics, Matt! This is real old Russia. Many Ladas, Volgas, Uaz offroads, Moskvich. Izh Oda, very rare model,produced in small numbers, in Kalashnikov factory. Could you find GAZ combivan, I dont know real name , but it was commonly used during 80-tes for minibus taxi.

    1. Thanks Nemanja!
      The Izh Oda was actually rather frequent in the last couple of cities I reported on, interestingly.

  5. You must have forgotten to mention the Infiniti QX56 (pictured) as one of the US imports.

    Love your report! (and your trip)

  6. Magnifique Will Cypha ! On en voit encore au Japon, si j’en vois la semaine prochaine (c’est les vacances !), je te l’immortalise… Bonne route !

  7. If you forget the ugly wheels, the photo of the Volga-M24 seems to be an official picture taken by the manufacturer ! I like it. 😉

    Izh Oda and Moskvich 412 are also two nice finds.

  8. Another interesting report, with different cars, some that I have never heard of, the Toyota Will Cypha is weird to say the least, looking forward to the report from Krasnoyarsk (that’s a long journey).

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