Originally, some Russian commercial vehicles GAZelle NN manufactured by Gorkovsky Avtomobilny Zavod for export to Europe were born in the domestic environment, however, due to the circumstances, there was a complete separation of this branch and its relocation to Turkey, where a separate plant was established, which produces for Europe under took over the new Turkish homologation. Only the design and construction concept remained Russian.
And these GAZelle NN vans are a relatively unknown product on the Czech market, even though they are based on the original GAZelle NEXT series, which has been sold in our country for many years. However, the basis of both models is the same, namely a steel ladder frame. Although the manufacturer originally experimented with a self-supporting body, the test results on eastern (non)roads were not at all satisfactory. And so the ladder came back into play, which NN only took over from Next.
It is even more interesting with the powertrain, as at one time the Volkswagen 2.0 TDI engine was offered for NN, but the manufacturer lost it due to the departure of the German brand from the Russian market. The second alternative was the North American Cummins turbodiesel, but manufactured in China. This drive unit was also on the way out, however, after the homologation change, the replacement of Russian parts suppliers and the independence of the Turkish plant, the engine emigration did not happen in the end.
Under the hood of the NN, you will find a 2.8-liter American-Chinese four-cylinder diesel engine with an output of 126 kW/171 hp (3,500 rpm) and a torque of 360 Nm (from 1,400 rpm). Produced under license from Cummins USA in China, the engine meets the Euro 6 standard and works with a six-speed manual transmission developed by GAZ. It’s not really a reason to celebrate, the sorting is a bit clumsy and qualits have to be hunted sometimes.
Anyone familiar with gazelles will remember the past Business and Next models also equipped with 2.8-liter Cummins, however, these weaker units were originally from construction machines, which was also reflected in their unreliability. More powerful Cummins engines promise the exact opposite, although small problems with SCR (AdBlue) technology are already known.
Although on paper the values of power and torque are not bad, the scythe hits a rock after all. This mineral is called weight, and it is operationally over 2.7 tons, which, together with the consumption of around 10 l per hundred, is not little. The GAZelle NN will certainly not be ideal for delivering goods over mountains, cities, for highway transfers or a rival to the legendary Ford Transit with DHL stickers, which fired it up on the Nürburgring.
The purpose of this van is to operate in demanding conditions in the sense of bad roads or light terrain. Although the car is only equipped with rear-wheel drive, it is possible to equip it with a differential lock, which increases the passability a little. Sure, it’s not off-road, but it’s not a road girl either.
The exterior design is also worth mentioning, specifically the main headlights. These are diodes with diode daytime running lights, which is quite a step forward for Eastern engineering. And a user-welcomed change compared to previously used halogens.
Old school deck
A look into the interior reveals an old-generation dashboard that is taken over from the Next and made more or less of hard-working robust plastics. The steering wheel is also plastic, albeit very simply multifunctional and equipped with an airbag. This is new in the case of GAZelle NN models.
Don’t expect any revolution within the dashboard either, you’re looking at classic analog alarm clocks complemented by a simple on-board computer. And be careful, it is still controlled with a classic “stick” like some cars older than 20 years.
On the other hand, inside the spacious cabin you will find a lot of storage compartments, the drink holders can hold even larger bottles, there are not many buttons, but they are clear and there is also a simple cruise control with an on/off position. Add to that the ordinary seats, and you will realize that both savings and technological obsolescence were played here. GAZelle NN is still just a modernized evolution of the original base.
But in order not to offend the GAZelle, as part of the improvement, it also received an upgrade of its otherwise slow information system, started in a multimedia center originally from China. This not-so-reliable “toy” at least offers mobile screen mirroring using a cable, but not every mobile. If you connect a new iPhone to multimedia, the system may not work.
However, on a second note, we add that the factory info system is not connected to the car itself, so you can easily remove this basic radio, throw it away and replace it with a more sophisticated and faster multimedia device from AliExpress, which will also cost only a few thousand and provide a much better service than the original.
What about the back? Well, a two-meter-tall person can stand up comfortably in the cargo area, during transport you will appreciate the anti-slip floor with anchoring eyes and the clever removable sheet metal window below behind the two passenger seats, thanks to which you can transport objects over four meters long in the car.
It is also worth mentioning other variants of the model, when in addition to the closed version, a seven-seater station wagon is also offered. Flatbed trucks are also available in single- and double-cabin versions.
Wish it was a 4×4
The GAZelle NN cannot yet be described as a fully grown-up car, however, the vehicle is gradually becoming more and more Europeanized, and thanks to production under Turkish hands, there is hope that the model will see continuous modernizations. We’ll see about that.
In any case, thanks to the concept, we are talking about a semi off-road utility vehicle, which would also benefit from a classic 4 × 4 drive with a reduction. Then we would have forgiven the car much more easily for its ailments and would actually have been happy for a relatively modern utility SUV on a frame that does not fit in even in more demanding conditions.
The GAZelle NN is currently available to us through individual channels with a starting price of around CZK 900,000 including tax (large van), however, production in Turkey should be stable at the beginning of next year, which could either bring down sales prices or at least keep them at the same level . In this way, the model could secure permanent customer sales, albeit piecemeal and targeted at those who will actually use such a specific delivery.
|Motor||turbocharged diesel four-cylinder|
|Displacement volume||2,776 cm3|
|Performance||126 kW (171.3 hp) at 3,500 rpm|
|Torque||360 Nm at 1,400-3,500 rpm|
|Transmission||manual, 6 degrees|
|Operating weight||2 740 kg|
|light height||170 mm|
|Maximal speed||130 km/h|
|Consumption (combination)||from 8.8 l/100 km|
|Fuel tank volume||80 l|
|Wheels and tires||185/75 R16C|
|Dimensions (length/width/height)||6 232/2 070/2 735 mm|
|Wheelbase||3 745 mm|
|Cargo space volume||13,5 m³|