Lada Kalina-2 Luxe
My opinion and experience with that car.
Hi everyone. My name is Andrew and I live in Russia. English isn't my native language, so I can (and will) make silly mistakes, so don't judge me too strictly.
I decided to write this article because I didn't see any Lada reviews on English language, so my article can be interesting for people who haven't heard about Lada.
In summer 2014 I decided to buy a car. The main requirement was to find cheap car with automatic gearbox. After few days of thinking I decided to buy Lada Kaina.
In a while, I finally found a car in good condition with best equipment. We bought it in summer 2018, car was made in 2014. Price of this car was about 5400$.
One of first photo
It had a bit more than 100.000 km mileage, but condition of the whole car was perfect. That's how it looks from different sides:
In my opinion, it is the best modern good-looking Russian car, a way better than Lada Granta or Lada Vesta. Design was made for young people, that's why it's popular among them.
Under hood we have 98 h.p. engine with maximum torque 145 N/m, which was used first time in 2002 on Lada-2110. It is well-known engine, so almost every car service can do engine overhaul.
In practice this engine have about 100-110 h.p. Manufacturer understated it's power in papers, so people pay less taxes. It's very nimble engine, which is enough for comfortable driving in city. But it have few big weaknesses:
1) Knock hydraulic lifters. It is very common problem, nothing scary in it.
2) Tearing of timing belt. In such case engine valves will bend over because they'll hit piston. It will definitely lead to engine overhaul, which will have tangible cost. Anyway replacing piston with special one will solve this problem forever.
Despite this weaknesses, I still like this engine. It is the best balance between price and quality. If you take care of this engine, it will ride for 300,000+ kilometers because it isn't made of aluminium, as a lot of other modern unreliable engines.
The best part of this car is interior:
As I said before, it has all possible options. I was very surprised when I saw light and rain sensors, I thought it is available in much more expensive cars. "It is a pleasure to sit inside this car, everything is very comfortable and good-looking" - that's what you think first 10 minutes inside of this car. But in a couple days you understand that a lot of things could and should be improved to feel comfort. Previous owner decided to install Lada Sport seats, which added a bit comfort after original seats:
Also you can see armrest, which was buyed for 10$ on market. It isn't useful with mechanical gearbox, but with automatic you should definitely buy it.
After that you pay attention on car multimedia with sensor screen:
This picture from internet
You think that it is a good multimedia: you can connect your phone via bluetooth (talk while driving, listen music, etc.)., also you can use SD-card or USB to listen your music. Later even navigation has appeared (anyway I could add it for 35$). Everything is fine, until it starts to play. Sound is quiet bad. That's because there was the worst loudspeakers I've ever heard (by the way, there are 4 loudspeakers in this equipment). Maybe previous owner changed loudspeakers, maybe it was from factory. Anyway this sound will be normal for people who just want to listen something without paying attention on quality and always using low sound. So if you want to add more comfort, you need to buy new loudspeakers. Also multimedia need to improved. This multimedia is built on Windows CE platform, so I downloaded new firmware. First of all, it changed media player and music became better. Second of all, I could see more information than before:
A is coolant temperature, B is gearbox temperature
For example, I had an opportunity to see how many fuel I've spent during one ride and how many money I've spent on it. I was satisfied because with that firmware I could see whole information about car, I could even read mistakes there.
Under multimedia is climate-control:
It doesn't show you the temperature in degrees, but at least it works. Moreover, it works really good. You put temperature on right switch, so in winter it's hot inside, in summer is cold. AC works good, but don't forget that engine here isn't powerful, so car rides distinctly slower with it. You can see 76°C down climate-control. It shows the temperature of engine coolant. Previous owner didn't change multimedia firmware, so he decided to install this thing. Only 1 or 2 years later this information appeared on dashboard (and not on all Ladas).
Definitely, interior is the best part of this car. This car is very cheap and plastic is awful everywhere (so as in other cheap cars). For such price it is okay to use plastic which is as hard as rock, but it always make a lot of noises! Especially with climate in my region: when we have -30°C outside, plastic shrinks, so it makes a lot of noises. But during summer situation is better. Previous owner took care about is, so I saw this material on every plastic connection. And it really helps!
I unscrewed only 2 bolts to reach it
Also, additional sound insulation was made all over the car by previous owner. It helped, so it was very quiet inside the car.
Gearbox was made in Japan by Jatco firm. It is good gearbox which have only 4 gears. I was very surprised when found out, that it is enough even for 150 km/h speed (about 3500-4000 rpm). I hate only one bad moment in this gearbox: it always shifts to the 2nd gear on low speed, starts at 5-10 km/h. I had the same on cheap VW, it is very annoying. The same gearbox installed on Nissan Note 2005-2008 years, so this gearbox is quiet well-known.
Fuel consumption is 7.3 L/100 km
Fuel consumption on highways is perfect. On picture you can see that I spent 20.2 L of fuel in 276.5 km with AC and 4 people inside the car. In city it will be higher. In summer I had about 10-11 L/100 km, in winter 12-13 L/100 km, mostly it depends on driving style. I drive actively, so calm drivers have less fuel consumption.
Anyway, comparing to all other cars which I had before - this one is the best. If you'll spend some money after purchasing it, you'll have very comfortable automobile which is cheaper than Volkswagen Polo, Kia Rio or Hyundai Solaris. It is necessary to make additional sound insulation here, otherwise it will be quiet noisy inside. This car have big road clearance (bigger than previous named cars), which allowed me to drive comfortable on light off-road.
I had couple small problems with that car, but it was very cheap to fix it. You can find all parts of this car which are sold everywhere. That problems was because of previous owner who tried to save some money (which could cause a big problems for me, but I paid attention to every strange sound), rest of them was because of mileage.
I was dissapointed when I heard that Lada Kalina was discontinued in 2018. You can still find them in German, but they're too expensive there. I suppose that Europeans prefer to buy something better and cheaper and don't care about necessary modification of their car (like changing loudspeakers or additional sound insulation).
Maybe one day or another I'll collect money and buy Lada Kalina-2 Sport. After couple improvings it will be a really "hot-hatchback" for young people, like on photo:
I hope that in several years you'll see article about this car...