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The Fifth Wheel Russie

Lada-21106 GTi: Some Like It Hot

Would you buy a Lada-21106 for $20,000?
No, we are not crazy. This is not just any Lada it is a GT class car. No other Russian manufacturers have ever even attempted to produce any Grand Touring class cars before.

But now the new Lada-21106 GTi is here. The arrival of this car has nothing to do with Lada manufacturer, AutoVAZ, wanting to expand it's model range. No, Lada just wants to enter the elite of the world championship in group A of rally formula F2. To do that, AutoVAZ had to design a car that is almost identical to the one that will take part in the championship. To qualify, it also has to produce at least 2,500 of these cars in no more than a year.

The car has yet to be registered with the International Federation of Autosport (FIA). The 21106 has kept the look of the "Yellow Shark" concept car that was first shown at the Moscow Motor Show, back in 1996. Well designed aerodynamic bodykit, wheels put wide apart, lowered suspension tell you straight away that you are looking at a sports car.

Under the skin, this car is different from the Lada-2110, on which it is based. Positioning of the engine fixtures have changed, the wheel-base has increased by 45 mm, the width of track has also being increased by 76 mm. Therefore, the car is much more stable. 15 or 16 inch alloys can be fitted with low profile tyres. The designers say that it's best to use 195/60 R 15 tyres in the summer, and 185/65 R 15 in the winter. Places of fixture of the front McPherson struts were changed. Russian made hydraulic shock absorbers are now used, together with enlarged springs.

Changes to the rear suspension are not so significant, the suspension has moved a couple of centimetres backwards, and Monroe shocks were installed. As a whole, suspension hardened a bit, which is normal for a sporty car.

The more dynamic car, needed more efficient breaks. At the front, vented 14 inch discs are used. At the back, however simple drum breaks are fitted. In prospective, AutoVAZ is hoping to fit cross-drilled breaks to the rear as well. The characteristics of a vacuum break intensifier were also changed.

Because AutoVAZ doesn't manufacture engines that are powerful enough for this kind of car, the 16-V, 2-litre injection engine from Opel/Vauxhall was adopted, together with the 5-speed, manual transmission. The electronic system that controls the engine, has been especially adapted for this car. Over the years, this engines were fitted to Astras, Calibras and Vectras, and when tuned, were even used on the rally versions of these cars.

The 21106 comes with Recaro seats and a sports steering wheel. Extras include: power steering, "electric everything" package, sunroof, leather seats, air-conditioner and Hi-Fi.The car that we tested, didn't have power steering, but it did have non-standard tyres - 205/55 R 15, that touched the wheel-arches on turning. And quite a lot of force needed to be applied in order to turn the steering wheel. So we think that power-steering will be more than appropriate on this car.

The Lada-21106, sets-off very easily, unlike the 2110. The Opel gearbox left a good impression, you just wouldn't want to take your hand off the knob. And you wouldn't need to, as the acceleration is very rapid, 0 to 100 km/h in 9.5 seconds.

Even at 140 km/h, the car holds the road and steers well. When turning at high speed, the 21106 skids, but it's hard to loose control. On a bumpy road, the car behaved more than reasonable.

Obviously the Lada-21106 shows a noticeable progress in the activity of AutoVAZ. By its dynamic, design and steering the 21106 is largely advanced, compared to the standard 2110. If AutoVAZ will keep the quality of its cars at a decent level, then the car might have a strong consumer appeal. Until now, none of the Russian manufacturers produced any Grand Touring class cars, that currently have a strong following in western Europe. However, the prices on those cars are not much higher, than for standard models. And we consider that a price tag of $20,000 for this Lada GTi, to be a bit on the steep side. So we think that AutoVAZ's marketing department has something to think about.

From the Archive

The VAZ-21106 was originally designed as a two-seater coupe. But that project was founded on the enthusiasm of just one single person; the organiser of the project. The project got off to a bad start, even the prototypes index numbered the VAZ-2113 that didn't suggest a happy end. A full scale model was build. It was tested in an aerodynamic tube, and some corrections were made. All this was happening in 1990-1991. The difficult part of the project was that an all new 3-door body had to be build. Later due to the lack of financing, the project was indefinitely "frozen".
When you look at the early model of the Katran 1.6j (that was it's proper name) you can see some details that were fashionable at the time: windows divided into two parts, sharp edges, etc. Who knows if things had been different, the 2-door Katran 1.6j coupe could brought a bit of fame for AutoVaz, it would also have had a greater appeal to the GT enthusiasts.

Sergey Zhukov
Photo: Alexandre Vassiliev
Translated by Stanislav Kisselev, Igor Grigoriev

Specifications of LADA-21106 2.0 16v GTi
1 inch = 25.4 mm; 1 mile = 1.609 km; 1 pound = 0.454 kg;
1 gal (GB) = 4.546 l; 1gal (US) = 3.785 l)

  • Body style - integral 4-door sedan
  • Number of seats - 4
  • Kerb weight, kg - 1100
  • Dimensions, mm:
    length - 4270
    width - 1700
    height - 1460
  • Wheelbase, mm - 2540
  • Tread, mm:
    - 1480
    rear - 1446
  • Min. road clearance, mm - 170
  • Max. speed, km/h - 205
  • Acceleration (0 - 100 km/h), sec - 9.5
  • Fuel consumption, l/100 km:
    at 90 km/h - 6.5
    at 120 km/h - 8.3
    urban cycle - 10.5
  • Engine:
    - Opel C20 XE; gasoline, in-line, 4-cylinder
    displacement, - 1998 (2 l)
    valvetrain - DOHC

    valves per cylinder
    - 4
    power, hp/rpm - 150/6000
    Torque, Nm - 196/4800
  • Transmission - 5-speed, manual
  • Suspension:
    front - McPherson struts
    rear - semi-independent
  • Brakes - hydraulic 2-circuit with booster
    front - vented disc
    rear - drum
  • Steering - rack-and-pinion
  • Tank capacity, liters - 43