Best Selling Cars Around The Globe: Trans-Siberian Series Part 6: Tomsk, Siberia

Matt Gasnier
by Matt Gasnier

Over the next few weeks I will be taking you on a trip through the Trans-Siberian railway, stopping along the way in various Russia, Mongolian and Chinese cities to observe the vastly different car landscapes each time. The last stop was Omsk in Siberia, we are now moving 940km North East 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… Jump in for the full report!

If you can’t wait for the next report, you can follow my trip in real time here, or Check out 174 other car markets on my blog.

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

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.

Lada Granta

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.

Chevrolet Niva
Hyundai 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.

Izh Oda
1967 GAZ Volga
2004 GAZ Volga

It has become clearer and clearer as I have gone East that Toyota should be the #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…

Toyota Land Cruiser and Lada 4×4
Subaru 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.

Good 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. 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.

UAZ 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.

Infiniti FX and Lexus RX
Infiniti 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.

Jinbei Granse

Virtually no Chinese cars were spotted 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 made in US Toyota Tundra and one Chevrolet Camaro spotted.

Two 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 JDM imports 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!

Tomsk – September 2013 rough estimate:

PosModel1Lada Granta2Lada Priora3Chevrolet Niva4Ford Focus5Renault Logan6Hyundai Solaris7Toyota Camry8Renault Duster9Toyota RAV410Kia Sportage
Kia Soul
Under the mud, it’s a Toyota Ist!
Toyota Highlander
Lexus RX and Toyota Camry
Japanese spec Toyota Corolla and Lada Samara
Nissan Lafesta
Mitsubishi Mirage Dingo
Hyundai Elantra
Renault Duster
Kia Cee’d, Lada Granta and Lada Samara
Lada 110
Renault Logan
Chevrolet Niva
Daewoo Nexia
Lada Granta
Kia Rio and Infiniti FX
Kia Sportage and Zhiguli
Moskvitch
A Lada Granta spotted from the train before arriving in Tomsk

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

Matt is based in Sydney, Australia and runs a blog called BestSellingCarsBlog, dedicated to counting cars around the world.

Matt Gasnier
Matt Gasnier

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  • Beerboy12 Beerboy12 on Nov 15, 2013

    Love those Niva's. Special little "goes anywhere you point it" car. It's a shame the Chevy Niva didn't get far out of Russia.

    • Onus Onus on Nov 15, 2013

      They tried. They built a few with ecotech engines. Not sure why that died.

  • Anti121hero Anti121hero on Nov 16, 2013

    Am I the only one that finds it amusing that they sell a car called the Funcargo?

  • Carson D I hadn't seen a second-generation Courier with a Mazda engine before. I've seen a few with Ford engines. There was one at the Cox Driving Range that they used to collect golf balls. Golf would definitely be more entertaining to watch if they used moving targets.
  • Tassos ooops, Tim, you missed this one. Would make a lovely "Tim's used car of the day". It satisfies all the prerequisites except the wildly overpriced bit.
  • Tassos ASTON AND BOND BY A MILE. While Aston Martin sells a TINY FRACTION of what even the rarified Ferrari and Lambo sell, it is unbelievably well known. Credit the idiotic, but hugely successful and sometimes entertaining James Bond Movies.
  • Tassos 1988? Too young for me. It's all yours, Tim... BAHAHAHAHA!
  • Gray Awesome. Love these. But, if I had the money for a Fox-body, there is a clean '84 GT 350 here for little more than half the price.
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