Ran with Cross: AvtoVAZ showed off its muscles in Sochi

I didn’t seem to be planning to settle in a tree with a bear, like in the commercial for the new Lada Xray Cross. In Sochi, I was planning to drive more on asphalt, but instead I climb higher and higher into the mountains, dodging trees, shooting stones from under the wheels. And where? To a place called "Bear's Corner"! Izvestia investigated why Xray Cross still looks into the forest.

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A completely different Xray

An Xray Cross with a new “robot” AMT was brought to a special event organized for members of the jury of the Top 5 Auto automobile award. And, as it turned out, by mistake. The car was removed from the test, citing the fact that it was a pre-production sample, and the updated AMT gearbox was offered to be tested on the Vesta.

Until recently, the Xray crossover was the most expensive model of the Lada brand, based, albeit on a foreign, but simple Renault platform - from Logan and Sandero. While working on the even more expensive Xray Cross, in Togliatti they decided to seriously modify the truck that AvtoVAZ had inherited - its inherent shortcomings for such a car were already becoming critical.

Xray Cross

Xray Cross

Photo: Lada

For example, the hydraulic booster lacked performance, causing the steering wheel to receive shocks from bumps. That's why the off-road Xray has a completely new electric boost and a new rack. Due to the increased ground clearance to 215 mm and a wider track, the suspension was completely redesigned, using a bizarre mixture of parts from Vesta and Duster. The same is with the brakes - discs from Vesta Cross on the rear axle instead of drums and a more powerful vacuum booster from Renault Duster.

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By the way, Steve Mattin insisted on increasing the track - due to the plastic body kit, the car body became wider and without widely spaced wheels the Cross version would not have looked so harmonious. Harmony was added by 17-inch wheels and an off-road body kit - it performs not only a protective function, but also an aesthetic one. In any case, compared to the athletic Cross version, the Xray seems heavy and clumsy.

Why did it happen that it has changed now?

Theoretical basis

The basis of the CVT gearbox is a 5-speed manual transmission from VAZ, but it is equipped with actuators from ZF from Germany. The Lada robot box was first released back in 2014 and installed on the Priora, then gradually moved to the Vesta, which needed 2-pedal versions, as if in the air - after all, the car’s competitors are foreign cars, while consumers do not like manual gear shifting .

The Lada robot box did not go well with its status.

However, Lada specialists replaced the firmware, conducted experiments with the clutch, then made a significant change in 2018, which was announced simultaneously with the release of the Vesta Cross sedan, but during a test in May these cars simply...disappeared.

For this reason, the wait dragged on until November.

Move the sofa

No savings on comfort. For the first time in the history of Lada, the steering wheel is heated along the entire rim and for the first time in the history of the B0 platform, it is adjustable for reach. The new seats - the backrests are borrowed either from the Nissan Qashqai or from its French relative Renault Kadjar - are comfortable and equipped with three-stage heating.

The back of the rear sofa was moved back a couple of centimeters, thanks to which there was additional space in front of the passengers’ knees. A little space has been freed up, but this increase is also relevant - the back row of the Xray is cramped. Additionally, the design of the front seats has been changed, and now you can put your feet deeply under them.

Xray Cross

Xray Cross

Photo: Lada

Due to manipulations with the second row, the trunk decreased by only a liter, but the loading capabilities of the Xray Cross, on the contrary, increased. First of all, thanks to the back of the right front seat, which lies in the horizon, and secondly, thanks to the roof rails that can withstand a 50-kilogram weight.

What changes have occurred

There are no changes in terms of hardware. However, the head of the entire project, V. Petunin, claims that cooperation with the clutch supply company Valeo is currently ongoing, the result of which should soon be the selection of the best composition for the friction lining. They are produced here, at the Valeo plant in Tolyatti, from here they are supplied with VAZ products.

Now the AMT Lada robot box is installed on the new Grant and West series with 1.8 liter engines. This gearbox is expected to appear on the XRay car soon.

However, the program with which control is carried out has been improved. Optimization of programs made it possible to reduce the time during which a gear switches from 1st to 2nd, as well as from 2nd to 3rd - by almost 30 percent (the synchronizer from Germany should withstand this), a special mode for traffic jams appeared, allowing the vehicle to move when the brake pedal is released. This ensures a smooth start.

Petunin spoke about common complaints from car owners who do not know how to correctly switch the robotic gearbox of the Lada Vesta, who stand in traffic jams for a long time or drive at maximum load in difficult situations. Many such motorists contacted the dealership, claiming that they had a transmission error light.

However, the instructions indicate that this indication is not critical; the temperature sensor is simply activated (the clutch becomes seriously heated during constant closure and slipping).

According to him, no standard situation on the road will lead to the car stopping. This is not bad, since, for example, many foreign automatic transmissions required constant throwing into the neutral position during stops or allowed the clutch to open during overheating, which is why they stood on the emergency warning light until it cooled down.

An algorithm has been added that allows you to accelerate on slippery surfaces in winter, but this requires the CVT transmission to switch to manual mode with the selection of 2nd gear (there is no separate button here). There is also a sports mode for the AMT Lada robot box, but the test failed because it has not yet been completed and is not available in existing cars.

Road characteristics

The missing sports mode of the auto transmission is not at all the main disadvantage of this gearbox. Taking the key to the Vesta Cross, which has a 1.8-liter engine installed, I initially noted that maneuvering in the parking lot was simplified, since there was no need to constantly “push” the gas pedal.

However, a very smooth start from a standstill causes vibration, which then manifests itself in congestion, for this reason it is preferable to slightly release the car from the front and then accelerate a little more vigorously. In addition, very low speeds are unpleasant for the 1.8 liter engine, it shakes.


Alas, the longest traffic jam we managed to get into near Sochi lasted only twenty minutes, for this reason, checking the stability of the new car gearbox will be possible only in the pre-New Year's winter traffic jam in Moscow. However, it’s good that a sudden jerk from a stop is accompanied by greater gear shifting comfort for everyone in the cabin; from now on you won’t have to shake your head during each gear change; you’ll know how to correctly shift the Lada Vesta’s robotic gearbox.

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All-season tires with a rare size of 215/50, specially created for the Xray Cross, hum on the asphalt quite clearly, despite the improved sound insulation. Engine 1.8 with 122 hp. - and this is the only unit available for the new crossover - is also loud, especially in sport mode. The “sport” button, albeit at the sensation level, compensates for the loss in dynamics: the Xray Cross accelerates to hundreds a little longer. And it consumes more gasoline, so for highway travel it would be nice to add a sixth stage to the gearbox.

The role of the Xray Cross is “a car for our roads”, so stay away from the well-maintained Sochi highways and buildings shining with dark glass. On a broken winding road that leads into the mountains, to shabby houses and colorful beehives. Cross can go quite fast off-road.

The suspension has a good reserve of energy capacity, pile fender liners and shields under the sills made of the same material extinguish crushed stone shots. The plastic body kit, which is also glued to the body with double-sided tape for reliability, protects the paint from stones and branches. The steering column, although it shakes on bumps, is much less than in cars on the B0 platform - Renault Duster and Sandero Stepway.

Xray Cross

Xray Cross

Photo: Lada

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The wide track and rear disc brakes make deceleration predictable, even if the wheels have varying levels of grip. In addition, in the “sand” mode, ABS works in such a way that a roller is formed in front of the wheels, which further slows down the car on soft ground.

Features of running in with a robot

In the reviews, especially from those who recently got behind the wheel of a Lada with an AMT robot, there is a lot of talk about how the robot is supposedly “dumb.” But there is a simple explanation for this supposedly “freezing” AMT. In the process of getting used to a new car, any driver, even impudent in other cases in relation to cars, does not “fall”, so to speak, with all his weight on the gas pedal.

He tries to drive the car like a pensioner, driving at low and medium speeds. Moreover, if, according to the AMT gear shift conditions, each subsequent gear is engaged when the engine reaches 4.5 thousand revolutions, then in this case this driver will not wait for the AMT to engage an upshift. This is the whole reason for the “stupidity” of AMT. In response to such statements, one can suggest that such drivers first “use” their brains, and then give the car gas. And immediately everything will fall into place.

Puck in play

The washer of the newest Ride Select system, in addition to the sand mode, offers another off-road mode - for snow and mud. All this gives rise to a feeling of permissiveness, but neither electronics nor increased suspension travel can replace four driven wheels. The system will help you not get stuck in the sand or start moving on a slippery slope - it really helps, it’s been tested. It is better to take more difficult sections on foot. Fortunately the chassis allows it.

I retell to XRAY project director Oleg Grunenkov the rumors circulating on the Internet about the development of an all-wheel drive system for Xray, and he looks skeptical. Firstly, it is expensive - you will have to redo the entire rear part of the car. Secondly, why? Most competing crossovers are popular in single-wheel drive versions. For a Russian buyer, an automatic is more important, and this is precisely what the Xray Cross does not yet have.

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Features of operation

In accordance with the reviews, a list of custom features of the AMT transmission has been compiled:

  • Unlike an automatic transmission, AMT does not have such a mode as “parking” or “P”. Therefore, reviews recommend leaving the AMT in gear when parked, turning off the engine in mode “A” or “R”. And with the engine not running, move the lever to “N” mode, but even in this mode the gear will be engaged. When the ignition is turned on, the speed will automatically turn off. Therefore, you need to remember this feature of the AMT, and to prevent the car from rolling, in this case the car is fixed with the brake pedal. Moreover, the car will not start without pressing the brake pedal. Which some car enthusiasts point out as a disadvantage, and others as an advantage that increases the safety of starting the engine when the speed is accidentally turned on, for example, as with a manual transmission;
  • Unlike simple mechanics and an automatic transmission, AMT will not move the car at idle speed, that is, driving at idle speed is impossible. To start moving smoothly, you need to add engine speed by pressing the gas. What is indicated as a disadvantage in reviews from residents of megacities, who often find themselves stuck in traffic jams. Therefore, for those who periodically encounter traffic jams, during short stops it is recommended to switch the lever to the “N” mode, because after a minute of parking with the brake pedal not pressed, the switch will disconnect the clutch by pressing the release lever, which can subsequently negatively affect the release bearing . However, some reviews provide examples of the opposite opinion, that this has absolutely no effect on the condition of the release bearing;
  • There are many opinions in the reviews about braking using AMT. When braking the engine by resetting its speed, the AMT reacts quite sensitively in higher gears by switching to lower ones, but many recommend doing this in combination with the brake pedal depressed. Regarding smooth braking with the help of brakes, AMT “helps” to brake by switching lower gears. But during heavy braking, the AMT completely disengages the clutch. But in some reviews there are stories about some “sagging” of the brake pedal in these cases.
  • after sharp braking, the clutch remains open until the engine speed is increased by the gas pedal;
  • When you apply emergency braking using the brake pedal, the Brake Assist System (BAS) is activated and the clutch is instantly released.

Learning "robot"

AvtoVAZ has already assembled a batch of Crosses with Japanese CVTs and 114-horsepower engines, but for now, the AMT robot, familiar to Lada owners, first introduced back on Priora, will be responsible for “automation”. However, not so familiar. Its updated version 2.0 can crawl in traffic jams like a real machine. Previously, when the brake pedal was released, the car with the “robot” stood still, but now it moves slowly, both forward and backward. If you open the door or tighten the handbrake, the car will remain in place.

Photo: Lada

According to the project manager, Vladimir Petunin, the transmission was not seriously altered, limiting itself to only a new control unit with new firmware and other disc linings. It will not be possible to fill an old “robot” with new brains. At the same time, in creeping mode, the only clutch does not slip, so its declared service life is still 150 thousand km.

The switching algorithm has been improved, now the “robot” should change gears smoother and faster. And indeed, the transmission on the Vesta SW Cross station wagon is trying its best: it quickly responds to gas supply, and shifts downward with throttle shifts. But sharp acceleration with the pedal to the floor still turns out wavy. Robotic gearboxes with one clutch cannot operate smoothly, even on supercars. But in any case, AMT copes better than its analogues from the budget class and the average manual driver.

Vesta SW Cross

Vesta SW Cross

Photo: Lada

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I was surprised that after a long period of pushing in a traffic jam, the smell of a burnt clutch appeared in the car. Algorithms do not always work correctly. For example, the robot should shift to a downward gear if you slow down while moving downhill, but in reality it does this every other time.

General information about the AMT robot

  1. The mechanical part is based on a five-speed modification of the VAZ model 2180 gearbox. Moreover, this gearbox is equipped with gear pairs with different output ratios for different Lada models. For example, the Vesta box has this output indicator of 3.9, when, as on Grants and Kalinas, it is 3.7.
  2. You cannot take an actuator (clutch pressing mechanism) and robot electronics and put it on a regular box of the same VAZ 2180 model so that the result is a robot. Although the reverse procedure of replacing a robot with a mechanical one can be carried out with overcoming some obstacles.
  3. It is believed that the actuator cannot be repaired or maintained, but this is not for our craftsmen. Cases of its failure, judging by the reviews, are very rare. Usually, they happened at the beginning of operation, while still under warranty. There were no cases of refusal to replace.
  4. The recommendation to change the oil in the AMT at a mileage of 120 thousand does not stand up to the criticism of mechanics; they recommend doing this at 75 thousand mileage.
  5. The adaptability or adaptability of the transmission to changing operating conditions of the engine and its load, the position of the gearbox engaged mode sensors (ECP), as well as the gas and brake pedals is ensured by reading the sensor information and analyzing this information. And based on the algorithms embedded in the robot’s program, a certain order of its actions is formed. In this case, the driver’s actions in various situations are taken into account, which are stored in the robot’s long-term memory. If we say all this in a simple and understandable language for everyone, then the AMT transmission adapts to the characteristics of the driving style of a particular driver and road conditions. Moreover, for this she usually needs a couple of tens of kilometers of driving in the city.
  6. The AMT robot is sensitive to engine load and quickly responds to the activation of maximum torque. At the same time, each subsequent gear can be engaged only when the engine speed drops below 2.5 thousand, and each subsequent one when the range from 4 to 4.5 thousand revolutions is reached. In addition, the degree of load perceived by the engine is taken into account. For example, on a slope, the AMT robot will switch to a lower gear if the load on the engine decreases, but will leave it in the most economical operating mode.
  7. AMT has its own peculiarities of operation in accordance with the established transmission modes. For example, in “M” mode, the gearbox switches faster compared to “A” mode.
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