Good old UAZ began to grow: first in length, and now in breadth.

Anatoly FOMIN. Author photo


Let's start with them. The regular UAZ 3151 is a short car with dependent spring suspension and high-profile diagonal tires. By today's standards, its comfort and controllability is far from a gift. In the 70s, they completely put up with this, but entering the third millennium with such baggage is worthless: the requirements of drivers today are not the same, and speed too. This prompted designers to switch to a spring suspension, with which all attempts of the front axle to “walk independently” are strictly limited by longitudinal and transverse rods. Of course, the variants of the “long” machine (3153, 3159) are more stable in themselves, but springs also add convenience and comfort to them.

Why is UAZ 3159 so wide? Of course, not only because “it’s so prettier” or “to increase stability”. Although, of course, this also plays a role, but only as a “side effect”. Beauty, in general, is a subjective concept. As for stability, contrary to popular belief, turning an ordinary UAZ is not so simple: the rollover angle of a machine with spring suspension is 42 °, and with a spring suspension - 41 °. Quite tough certification tests for stability and controllability (by the way, accepted only in Russia), the goat passed, albeit without a large "margin of safety".

However, not all so simple. The spring suspension was designed for conventional axles and cannot be mounted with final drives: the spring supports are just above the hinges of equal angular speeds. There is only one way out - to lengthen the stockings of bridges. But then you need new half shafts - as many as four pieces - and all are different. But what if you try to choose from the existing ones? So the track turned 1600 mm. True, one half-axis still had to be made specifically for Barca.

Why is there so much attention to “gear” bridges? Designed by order of the military, they provide a machine with wheels with an outer diameter of 780 mm ground clearance of 300 mm. Note that many imported all-terrain vehicles have much larger wheels, and the clearance is only 200–230 mm. In our ruts after tractors and trucks, every centimeter is worth its weight in gold: either drove here, or get a cable and a shovel. In general, even though axles with wheel gears are more expensive, more complicated, there are more parts in them, the demand for the cars equipped with them is quite high among the civilian public. After all, whatever one may say, the main advantage of UAZs is cross-country ability. So is it worth sacrificing it? The long-wheel UAZ 3153 on the roads was inferior to the standard car (ЗР, 1998, No. 12), but the UAZ 3159, which has a higher landing and ground clearance of 300 mm, should climb better.


Oddly enough, the first thing you notice is not a wide track at all, but an unusually high quality of painting for Ulyanovsk cars. However, why be surprised - UAZ 3159 is assembled and painted not on the conveyor, but in the production of cars in small batches (PAMSe). But the paint makes noticeable "waves" of metal on the rear wings, with the head giving out hand-welded parts. The standard-sized wheels in the enlarged niches look disproportionately small, something more solid could fit there. But … we don’t have such people.

Another notable innovation is the sliding door vents. As the saying goes, a trifle, but nice. In addition, their area is larger, and visibility is better. It is only a pity that the distribution of this new product is restrained by its import origin with an impressive price in hard currency - Russian suppliers, no matter how they beat themselves in the chest, could not do anything like that.

The next pleasant surprise is a wide comfortable footboard. It is hardly worth saying how such a car needs it. The workplace is quite comfortable. We especially note the new appearance of the “dashboard", where the arrangement of devices is changed and now they can be seen by the driver of any complexion. A tachometer is very requested here, but, unfortunately, it was not provided. The steering wheel of the 3160 is not a masterpiece of design, but at least grasped. On the floor between the seats it became freer - the front axle and the reduction gear are now engaged with one lever. There is also an air duct that supplies warm air to the legs of the rear passengers - an unheard of luxury in an UAZ.

An almost enthusiastic reaction is caused by starting the engine. You will not find a hint of vibration either on the floor, on the steering wheel, or even on the gearshift lever, and the engine is almost inaudible. The merit in this new suspension of the power unit, borrowed from UAZ 3160 and, of course, a thick layer of sound insulation. Even at high speed, you cannot hear the rumble of cardan and gears, and the most noticeable noise is created by the turbulence of the air flow around the front struts. The interior is practically airtight, nothing whistles and does not blow from anywhere: the doors are carefully fitted and equipped with a double seal. And this is at UAZ!

But the side door opening to the side did not cause emotion. Its opening is noticeably smaller than with a hinged side, and the heavy spare wheel fixed on it loosens the already not too solid structure. Sitting on the folding benches in the "trunk", of course, is more convenient, but hardly transporting goods.


Although the new ZMZ-409 engine is almost two times more powerful than the UAZ-4218 engine, this was not very noticeable at the maximum speed of the car: it was within 140 km / h. "Maximum speed" is too much dependent on aerodynamics, with which the UAZ, to put it mildly, is at odds. But for the owner of such a car, it is probably more important, not at what speed it can rush along the highway, but how well it accelerates, what is its comfortable "cruising" speed. We did not make special measurements, but according to subjective impressions, Bars in dynamics will not yield to VAZ 2121 3, and in the regime characteristic of overtaking (80–120 km / h in fourth gear), it has few rivals among ordinary Russian cars. With a higher-revving engine, fifth gear remained “economical" - even despite the high gear ratio of the axles (5.38 versus 4.68). The dynamics of acceleration are mediocre. But the noise and fuel consumption are lower and the speed of 100–120 km / h can be maintained for a long time without the risk of “turning” the motor.

But the brakes are not so good. What suits a car with a maximum speed of just over a hundred is not suitable for a faster car. The front and rear drums, of course, protect the pads from dirt, but on a wet road or even just on a loaded car, you have to be more than prudent - maybe even clairvoyant.

Finally, about fuel consumption. You won’t have to wait for miracles: what is saved by the modern engine and fifth gear will be eaten by “extra” gears and bearings in the axles. The gain will be noticeable only at high speed on the highway. But the higher price of AI-92 gasoline also nullifies this economy.

Why is there nothing about off-road vehicle behavior? We postponed the story about it until the time when we will offer you a full instrument test “Bars”, we will certainly drive it off-road and compare it with other similar cars.

+ Good build and painting quality, potentially high traffic, a powerful engine, a spacious interior.

- High price, high gas mileage, weak brakes, a small rear door opening.