By on November 22, 2013

1 Toyota IstThe Toyota Ist is by far the most popular used Japanese import in Krasnoyarsk.

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 Tomsk in Siberia, we are now moving 450km East to Krasnoyarsk in the midst of Siberia. And this is it: used right-hand drive Japanese imports have taken over. Although I only stayed in Krasnoyarsk 4 hours it is enough to establish the simple fact that roughly every second car in the city is a used Japanese import, therefore being driven with the steering wheel on the wrong side! 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.

ZhiguliZhiguli in front of the Krasnoyarsk Vokzal (Train station)

Lada ClassicLada Classic and Zhiguli

The king of the Japanese used imports is the Toyota Ist, which is fighting with the Zhiguli for the title of most frequent model in the streets of Krasnoyarsk. Yep, that many! The Ist success as a used vehicle in Russia is all the more impressive that its popularity was short-lived in Japan: it ranked #4 for its first year in market there in 2002, #6 in 2003, #8 in 2004 to then disappear from the Top 20 ever since…

3 Honda AirwaveHonda Airwave

3b Toyota Grand HiaceToyota Grand Hiace

3c Mitsubishi eK Toyota bBMitsubishi eK and Toyota bB

Among the ever-expanding variety of Japanese imports, I saw a few current generation Honda Stepwagon and Airwave, Odyssey, Nissan Cube, Serena, Presage, Toyota Wish, Opa, Caldina, Corolla Axio, Voxy, Allion and even one IQ, one Mazda Verisa and one Mitsubishi Airtrek. I even picked one more Toyota Will Cypha! I have to say I will never tire of being astonished at how popular this model is in Russia.

6 Hyundai Elantra Honda PilotHyundai Elantra and Honda Pilot

The Lada Granta, although very well established, may not be the best-selling new model in Krasnoyarsk, that honour could well go to the Hyundai Solaris, once again extremely solid and consistent in every single city I visited since my arrival in Russia 10 days prior to being here. Other very successful new cars here are the Kia Rio, Ford Focus, VW Polo, Hyundai Elantra, Renault Logan and Toyota Camry in this order.

7 Toyota RAV4Toyota RAV4

8 Hyundai Santa FeHyundai Santa Fe and Japanese spec Toyota Corolla

SUVs are here in force, especially the new generation Toyota RAV4 and Hyundai Santa Fe, both already impressively frequent in the streets of Krasnoyarsk, with the Toyota Prado, Kia Sportage, Hyundai ix35 and Mazda CX-5 also over-represented.

9 Toyota CorollaNew generation Toyota Corolla and RAV4

As far as recent launches are concerned, I spotted two new generation Toyota Corolla in the space of a couple of hours which to me is quite amazing, one new Lexus IS, one Mercedes CLA and one new Skoda Octavia.

10 Daewoo Nexia Infiniti QX56Daewoo Nexia and Infiniti QX56

Popular luxury models include the new gen Mercedes E-Class, GL-Class and M-Class and Infiniti QX56, while in the Chinese aisle the same two familiar SUVs stand out: the Lifan X60 and Great Wall Hover, each spotted a few times in the streets of Krasnoyarsk.

That was the Krasnoyarsk car landscape for you! I hope this was exotic enough, next stop is Irkutsk near the Lake Baikal…

Krasnoyarsk September 2013 – rough estimate:

Pos Model
1 Hyundai Solaris
2 Lada Granta
3 Toyota RAV4
4 Hyundai Santa Fe
5 Kia Rio
6 Ford Focus
7 VW Polo
8 Toyota Prado
9 Kia Sportage
10 Hyundai ix35

3 Hyundai SolarisHyundai Solaris

4 Kia RioGo! Kia Rio

12 Hyundai i30Hyundai i30

13 Toyota PradoToyota Prado

14 Mitsubishi OutlanderMitsubishi Outlander

15 Toyota IstToyota Ist

18 Hyundai Santa Fe Mitsubishi ASXHyundai Santa Fe and Mitsubishi ASX

19 Toyota OpaToyota Opa

20 Ford FocusFord Focus

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10 Comments on “Best Selling Cars Around The Globe: Trans-Siberian Series Part 7: Krasnoyarsk, Siberia...”

  • avatar

    That Prado is pretty good looking. Nicely rugged, and it’ll age well.

  • avatar

    The invasion of foreign cars into Russia would be even most astonishing to TTAC readers if you showed examples of current prices, which are double of those in the U.S. due to custom taxes and regs. In Krasnoyarsk, you are not getting anything luxurious or even prestigious for, say, $60K. You are getting a 4 cyl. Santa Fe in Boring White, yes, the one pictired third from the bottom.

  • avatar

    I love this series. Keep up the good work! It looks like an amazing trip.

  • avatar

    I like this series , please keep it up .

    Is the Zhiguli in fact any good at reliable transportation ? . it looks roomy for a small car .


    • 0 avatar

      Well, at their price point, yes they are a solid choice. Their 40 year old design and all of its quirks are known by millions, so while it’s definitely not reliable in the sense of a Toyota/Honda going 100k without so much as a tune up, they can be dependable cars with a prepared and mindful owner. They’re reliable in the sense of “I know I need to replace lower balljoints every 30k kilometers, I can get them cheap and I know how to replace them.” Basically no complex electrics to fail. Any small village will have parts and Uncle Vasya will know how to fix it, if you don’t know yourself. A fair amount of the newer ones have throttle body fuel injection, and that’s had the hiccups worked out of it and it’s a robust system from what I understand. 5-link Solid rear axle on coil springs out back, not much to break there, really.

      We rented a 2107 for a camping trip in Siberia, it fit 5 guys (3 of whom are about 6 feet tall, 2 somewhat shorter), and 5 stuffed alice packs. We were packed like sardines, holding one of the alice packs across out laps for the 10 hour drive, but yes we all fit. The 70hp carb’d (manual choke!) 1.5 hooked up to a 4spd hauled is up numerous mountain passes without complaint, albeit slowly.

      They are incredible fun to drive. No power assist on the steering, classic FR layout, very precise mechanical feeling gearbox. Not that quick in any 0-60 metric, but they feel really peppy at lower speeds. Long travel suspension and inherent durability makes it a natural born rally crosser.

      Here’s that very car crossing a stream in the Altai steppe (near mongolia):


      And here’s some young Czech guys taking a convoy of Zhiguli to Kyrgystan:

      TL;DR: American car buyers used to modern automobiles would be aghast at the reliability, build quality, let alone driving characteristics of these wonderful relics

  • avatar

    Here’s a page from an article Za Rulem published about the Lada 2105 in 2008, but it applies to all of the fiat based ladas:


    Basically here’s how it breaks down:
    balljoints will need attention by 20k km
    Starter, alternator, etc will need servicing within 2 years
    Clutch disk replacement by 60k km
    Muffler/exhaust replacement within 100k km
    steering worm gear replacement by 100k km
    Rust becomes a serious issue within 5 years

    Keep in mind that until 10 years or so, using a car was not an every day thing for people, so mileage may accumulate incredibly slowly. I think my grandpa’s 1987 Moskvitch had all of 80000km on it by the time he let it go, but those were incredibly hard, rural (basically offroad) miles using RON 80 octane fuel of dubious quality. In that time it had a top end rebuild, and the fenders rewelded to get rid of some rust.

    But in modern day Russia, it is easy to see why most people jump into something Japanese/Korean/European as soon as money allows. The Zhiguli remain the mainstay of the urban working class and rural inhabitants.

    • 0 avatar

      Of course, the question raised is “are Russian cars really that flimsy or are Russian roads just that brutal?”

      Because if it’s the latter, a Lada in, say, suburban America would last much longer before needing new parts.

  • avatar

    Bank in the backround in first photo has funny name “Not_a bank” (H=N in Russian). I wonder if any really stupid robbers from abroad can be cheated with this trick.

  • avatar

    Rust is the real killer with Ladas. I owned a (really cheap) 9 year old 110, and it basically started to fall apart on its own. Had to weld huge pieces of sheet metal to the bottom. There were other faults too, of course. The car finally went to the scrapper at 150000 km with a blown starter.

    No, I’m not talking about the 1970s, this happened in 2010.

  • avatar

    Thank you for the comments & links ~ wonderful scenery there .


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