PRESENTATION: “CHEVROLET-NIVA” WITH “OPEL” ENGINE
COMPETITION ON THE COMPETITION FIELD
ALEXANDER BUDKIN. PHOTO: ALEXANDER KULNEV
The car has undergone so much
significant design changes that seemed to be necessary
will affect the appearance. Alas…
Everyone who knows at least a little about the Chevrolet Niva project has heard enough: an imported motor is about to appear on the car. This event happened. Almost done, if you keep in mind that sales have not yet begun.
The Russian all-terrain vehicle (albeit with a foreign emblem), gaining great thrust-to-weight ratio and, hopefully, reliability, is increasingly penetrating the patrimony of foreign SUV cars. Unfortunately, it becomes closer to them at a price.
Like the car sold today (options L and GLS), a more powerful modification will be offered to customers in two trim levels - cheaper LX and more expensive GLX. Thus, four all-wheel drive Russian Chevrolets will soon occupy almost the entire price space between the usual Niva and KIA Sporting.
What, in fact, is new? Let me remind you of the pre-production car (ЗР, 2003, No. 11): the Opel-ECOTEK engine with a working volume of 1.8 liters was registered on the car with the Japanese Aisin gearbox - structurally the same as the Suzuki Vitara, only with other gear ratios.
The car will gain ABS and two frontal airbags, and in the most expensive version - air conditioning (by the way, also imported). On powerful modifications there will be front seats "Opel" from "Chevrolet Viva" (material in this issue) and wheels 215 / 65R16 instead of today's 205 / 70R15 and 205 / 75R15.
But these are only visible changes. Constructors who are hidden from the eyes of the buyer count several hundred. Just before embarking on a detailed study of the "materiel", let us try to look down on the event: large, as you know, is better seen from a distance.
DONOR ACCEPTOR COMMUNICATION
We have already mentioned another car that will begin to roll off the assembly line of the joint venture almost simultaneously with the strengthened Niva. The machines in question have surprisingly little in common. Anyway, bye. But one can already talk about one similarity, namely, the choice of motor.
The 1.8-liter engine, according to GM-AvtoVAZ marketers, is optimal primarily for the Viva sedan - it will allow it to compete successfully with the Russian Focus. This engine will not give the heavier “Niva” such dynamics as that of foreign competitors, but will bring it closer to the level of thrust-to-weight ratio that a cross-country vehicle needs.
While the main intrigue is how successful will the engine performance be for an all-terrain vehicle? Although the motors are identical in hardware, there will be different software on Viva and Niva. Together with the change in the valve timing, this will leave designers with room for maneuver.
Among the working names of the new car - "Niva-Opel", "Niva-GLX" - there is also such: "export" Niva "or" export version ". Actually, it’s not a secret for anyone that it is planned to deliver the SUV in the LX and GLX trim levels both to the domestic Russian market and abroad.
For our motorists, the existence of an export option is good. Such a machine should be as complete as possible, European-style comfortable and safe. And these are not just beautiful words. For example, after a thorough study by engineers (including from General Motors) of the body structure, the car passed the crash test using the EuroNCAP methodology, receiving four out of five stars. This is a brilliant result for small all-terrain vehicles - however, it will be possible to declare it in full voice only by starting mass production of cars and actually participating in the European crash test program.
The “four-star” safety is inherent in the GLX version, which will be equipped with two pillows, but all cars, including those equipped with Russian engines, will receive a reinforced body.
A more powerful engine raised the bar for high-speed capabilities of the car, so it has ventilated brakes in front and a vacuum booster increased to 10 inches.
Although no one seemed to complain about the handling of the Chevrolet Niva, the designers intended to improve it. Changing the characteristics of the springs, the body was lowered by 10 mm. And in order to maintain ground clearance, as we have already said, we applied slightly higher tires.
What is dictated by this decision is not difficult to understand. The main competitors of Niva in foreign markets will be SUVs with good controllability and mediocre all-terrain capabilities. In the last nomination, our car should remain stronger thanks to the permanent all-wheel drive (without electronics) and a lowered row in the transmission. The struggle for controllability continues: "… we are improving the behavior of the car on the highway without losing off-road qualities …".
Engineers do not stop to improve the acoustic properties of the car. In August, we again saw new sound and vibration insulation materials in the assembly shop of the joint venture. By the way, on the machine there is one more, or rather, two unusual elements for reducing noise - the drive shafts of the gearboxes are not with cardans, but with hinges of equal angular speeds. Shafts together with SHRUS are import. In addition to problems with the quality of Russian components (the editorial Niva had them), this made it possible to get rid of the pulsating hum at high speed.
Alas, something essential will have to be sacrificed. The new version of the Niva will be only four-seater, this was officially confirmed at the JM Em AvtoVAZ joint venture. True, they added the usual Russian “bye”.
Another important detail: leaving the requirement for VAZ to refuel their cars with 95-m gasoline, the designers of the joint venture provided fuel for the Niva with Opel with an octane rating of 91 to 95 units.
VAZ 2123 6
Most likely, the new car will receive exactly such an index - for Chevrolet Niva is going to be licensed by AvtoVAZ. This circumstance, alas, will always give an occasion to dig deeper into the shortcomings of the machine and tell how they are eliminated.
The designers of the joint venture hope that they were able to finally defeat spontaneously lowering rear windows, howling cardans (there are none), problems with the reliability of the gearbox (it is Japanese). An additional overlay reinforced the place of fastening of the steering mechanism (recall, on the editorial machine we cooked a cracked spar).
In Togliatti, almost coped with leaks from the cooling system (by the way, imported antifreeze with increased service life will be poured into the new engine), slurred operation of the climate control knobs, the transmission clutch loosening (and we encountered this). Finally, the washer nozzle will stop falling out of the fifth door - it will be fixed in a different way.
Almost all the questions asked by the joint venture engineers we received a detailed answer - what has been done, what is being done, what is in the near future. Some of the "eternal" problems of "Niva" may not have time to solve before the start of production of machines with "Opel". So, although they switched to imported oil seals here a long time ago, Niva transmission leaks are more common than imported all-terrain vehicles (to put it mildly). The work with the hub assembly is just beginning - it will be necessary to tighten the bearings on the “export” one as often as on the ones that are now produced with a 1.7 liter engine. But again - for now.
It is hard to predict how the transfer case will work - it's new! Although the design scheme has remained the same, it has changed the housing, gears and shafts - in general, almost everything. And most importantly - now the "razdatka" is docked with the gearbox and engine into a single power unit.
Finally, on the new Niva, as well as on cars with a VAZ unit, they must install a reinforced front gear cover. How can one not recall that it was the author of these lines who first encountered the breakage of the lid (repeated twice) and raised the alarm. For the sake of truth, we note: the engineers consider the old cover quite strong "in the drawings", but the real quality of casting fails.
MAKNOM NOT LOOKING?
I know several people from among my friends who are hoping to see the release of the Niva with an imported engine. The keyword "Opel" draws in their imagination a car that is completely unlike the former - in terms of reliability, dynamics, "and in general …".
As for the "general" - I will not say, the wording is too vague. Appearance, unfortunately, has not changed. The dynamics will, of course, be better than with a VAZ engine, but the car will not reach the characteristics of the “ten” or even “Sportage”. As for reliability, I will assume the following.
The main complaints of the current owners of Niva are by no means connected with the engine, and the gearbox is far from junk. We, in particular, were most often forced to go to the service by unpleasant "little things." I want to believe that there will be fewer of them - especially since cars with both motors are being finalized in parallel.
What will be the price? If the modifications L and GLS are today 285 and 324 thousand rubles. (about $ 10 thousand and $ 11 thousand), the most affordable option with Opel is unlikely to be priced below 12 thousand euros - officials used to call it that much as a guideline.