Review: The Iran Khodro Samand (Venezuelan Spec.) No, You Can't Have It

Athos Nobile
by Athos Nobile
review the iran khodro samand venezuelan spec no you can t have it

When I graduated as an engineer, little did I know that I would be going to end up working inside a car (or truck) assembly site, even less so in one controlled by a rogue government that has a big bull’s-eye painted on it on a map in Langley, Virginia.

But life is what it is, and usually it tends to bring people to interesting situations and places. Still not convinced? Go and read one chapter of Niedermeyer Sr biography, Herr Schmitt’s autobiography, or any of Baruth’s racey adventures.

So in one of the hair needle turns of my life, I ended up spending some time around Iran’s national car. It wasn’t in Iran, but under Hugo Chavez.

Venezuela became a friend of Iran, Libya and other shining examples of governance. Libya wasn’t known for its car production. Venezuela doesn’t need oil, so at some point. Iranian cars were going to get to Venezuela. They sure did. Starting in 2006, the Samand was assembled in Venezuela, and this is how we met, intimately.

Enough chachara (or in English, bovine cow butt secretions). Let’s review Iran Khodro’s Samand.

DISCLAIMER: This is not an offer to buy one. If you do, you might get arrested, in the U.S.A. at least, for aiding and abetting the enemy. If you are in another country, you risk having your cash confiscated, and don’t even think of traveling to the United States. You have been warned. This is indeed a car for the chosen few. While it is at least conceivable that you might some day own a Veyron, you will never own a Samand. Unless you move to Iran, Venezuela, Tajikistan or a few likewise desirable destinations.

The Samand is Iran’s current national car and a successor of the Peykan, the car that started Iran’s, well, modern automotive industry despite being mostly an updated Hillman Hunter.

Somehow, Iran Khodro had come into the production lines (probably one of these oil for something deals.) Starting with old machinery and tooling, they had to figure out how to manufacture cars, not that they had much choice either.

As a new national car, the Samand was designed from the get go to solve the shortcomings of its predecessor. As there were: poor fuel economy, cramped interior space, poor crash worthiness and way outdated looks. To that end, and to make the story short, they designed a car based on a heavily revised Peugeot 405 platform, giving it a modern looking if bland exterior, and interior, and safety. Speaking of safety ..

The Samand comes in 3 flavors: There is the bare bone EL, the plain vanilla STD (not a typo, aren’t you glad you can’t have a Samand STD?). Then there is the upscale LX. All with different engines depending on market and transmission.

In Standard form it comes surprisingly equipped: A/C with rear outlets, MP3 player, soft touch trim, power windows/locks/mirrors/antenna, smart alarm system, fog lamps, adjustable steering column, aluminum wheels (LX) and ABS (LX). The driver gets height adjustment in its seat, both front passengers can adjust lumbar support and in the LX, the back can be adjusted electrically. Not bad for a car that lists at around US$ 12K in Tehran, or around US$ 16K in Venezuela.

Of course not everything is perfect. The car can be equipped with a range of engines, 2 of them are Peugeot sourced, the third is indigenous Iranian. One is a tractor smooth 1.8lt with 100HP, next comes a sweet and high revving 1.6lts with 110HP, no it’s not a typo, and lastly an Iranian developed 1.7lts with 130 HP. The 1.6 is offered with a slushbox in Iran and other Middle East markets.

Venezuela received the 1.6 for a short period, and then the 1.8.

I have driven both of them, and by far preferred the 1.6. It moves the car nicely, has good overtaking power (with the A/C on, loaded with luggage, in one of those pilgrimages aptly described by Marcelo), and can achieve consistently a cruise of 100 mph. With a clear road, you can reach 120 mph without problems. It also returns between 12-14 km/lt, depending on how hard you smash the go pedal. To paraphrase the KFC ads, so good.

Inside, there’s plenty of space. Rear leg room is very good even, if Michael Jordan would be driving. The trunk is Tony Soprano rated, locally measured by how many beer cases can be stored for going to the beach. I only will say that you can bring enough beer to give all occupants alc0hol poisoning 4 or 6 times in a row. Very good for the car’s footprint and excellent for families with small kids. The trunk, I mean.

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  • Invalidattitude Invalidattitude on Apr 15, 2011

    Soon there will be Iranian diesel engines (not to mention the Hybrid concept version) and there is a Samand Pick-Up too! There is an another Peugeot copy in the making, the RUNNA, essentially a rebadged 206 sedan will be exported to Venezuela next year.

  • Phxmotor Phxmotor on Jun 05, 2011

    Any one know what kinf of hybrid approach is being considered? Or has already been approved?

  • Jeff S Corey--We know but we still want to give our support to you and let TTAC know that your articles are excellent and better than what the typical articles are.
  • Jeff S A sport utility vehicle or SUV is a car classification that combines elements of road-going passenger cars with features from off-road vehicles, such as raised ground clearance and four-wheel drive.There is no commonly agreed-upon definition of an SUV and usage of the term varies between countries. Thus, it is "a loose term that traditionally covers a broad range of vehicles with four-wheel drive." Some definitions claim that an SUV must be built on a light truck chassis; however, broader definitions consider any vehicle with off-road design features to be an SUV. A [url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crossover_(automobile)]crossover SUV[/url] is often defined as an SUV built with a unibody construction (as with passenger cars), however, the designations are increasingly blurred because of the capabilities of the vehicles, the labelling by marketers, and electrification of new models.The predecessors to SUVs date back to military and low-volume models from the late 1930s, and the four-wheel drive station wagons and carryalls that began to be introduced in 1949. The 1984 [url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeep_Cherokee_(XJ)]Jeep Cherokee (XJ)[/url] is considered to be the first SUV in the modern style. Some SUVs produced today use unibody construction; however, in the past, more SUVs used body-on-frame construction. During the late 1990s and early 2000s, the popularity of SUVs greatly increased, often at the expense of the popularity of large [url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sedan_(automobile)]sedans[/url] and station wagons.More recently, smaller SUVs, mid-size, and crossovers have become increasingly popular. SUVs are currently the world's largest automotive segment and accounted for 45.9% of the world's passenger car market in 2021. SUVs have been criticized for a variety of environmental and safety-related reasons. They generally have poorer fuel efficiency and require more resources to manufacture than smaller vehicles, contributing more to climate change and environmental degradation. Between 2010 and 2018 SUVs were the second largest contributor to the global increase in carbon emissions worldwide. Their higher center of gravity increases their risk of rollovers. Their larger mass increases their stopping distance, reduces visibility, and increases damage to other road users in collisions. Their higher front-end profile makes them at least twice as likely to kill pedestrians they hit. Additionally, the psychological sense of security they provide influences drivers to drive less cautiously. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sport_utility_vehicleWith the above definition of SUV any vehicle that is not a pickup truck if it is enclosed, doesn't have a trunk, and is jacked up with bigger tires. If the green activists adhere to this definition of what an SUV is there will be millions of vehicles with flat tires which include HRVs, Rav4s, CRVs, Ford Escapes, Buick Encores, and many of compact and subcompact vehicles. The green movement is going to have to recruit millions of new followers and will be busy flattening millions of tires in the US and across the globe. Might be easier to protest.
  • Sckid213 I actually do agree that most Nissans are ultimately junk. (I also think many BMWs are also). I was talking challenging the 3 in terms of driving dynamics. Agree all were failures in sales.
  • THX1136 More accurately said, we are seeing exponential growth in the manufacturing capabilities in this market. Unless, of course, all those vehicles are sold with customers waiting until more a produced so they can buy. Indeed, there are certainly more EVs being purchased now than back in 2016. Is demand outstripping manufacturing? Maybe or maybe not. I sincerely don't know which is why I ask.
  • ToolGuy The page here (linked in the writeup) is ridiculously stupid https://www.tyreextinguishers.com/how-to-spot-an-suvLike, seriously stupid, e.g., A) Not sure that particular Volvo is killing the planet as quickly as some other vehicles we might choose. B) A Juke is "huge"??? C) The last picture shows a RAV4 Hybrid?
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