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1996 Cardi Next

The Moscow Cardi body shop does not need a lengthy introduction. Suffice it to recall last year's debut of the Body roadster, which received an unofficial press prize at MIMS'95 as the most hand-held exhibit. And here is the new premiere: the concept of a light sport utility vehicle, which has received the logical name Next, because it follows the Body. "Cardi" is so far the only Russian atelier that annually exhibits a new car. It had a carburetored 1.7L engine and permanent all-wheel drive with locking center differential.

The Next Body has a spatial load-bearing truss made of steel pipes, on which fiberglass panels are hung both external and internal. The relative location of the Niva serial units on the new platform, the base, and the track remained the same. But the Body is an original—serial windshield with a "wiper" borrowed from "Tavria."

The best definition that can be chosen for the Next Body is "off-road coupe." most all light "beach" cars produced in the world have a standard off-road body. The first production car with such a body appeared last fall. This is a Suzuki X90. However, the creators themselves called it "targa."

The development of the Next Body was already underway at that time. And today, the all-terrain vehicle from "Cardi" is the only complete classmate of the X90.

To build a two-seater coupe on an all-wheel-drive chassis means limiting the car's functionality: no refrigerator to take, no boards. But losing in one, you win in the other. It's not every day you have to carry a refrigerator through the swamp. In urban traffic and on the highway, the coupe-all-terrain vehicle looks much more sporty and flashy.

But the view is a view, but what about the "beach passability" Next? We went to one of the reservoirs of the Moscow region. They did not test the car to overcome rough terrain - after all, the "Niva" will crawl through any dirt. I wanted to look at the behavior of the vehicle on the sand. The designers of Cardi made a bet on wide wheels with 235/75 R15 tires not only for stylistic reasons. They provide minimal pressure of an already light (1100 kg) car on the ground. Next, it leaves a barely noticeable trace in the sand. To "dig" a track, you need to drive through the same place a dozen times. Perhaps the creators of the car "guessed" with the wheels. But not with the clutch, which was left standard. Due to the wheels' increased diameter (740 instead of 680 mm), the clutch slips, and after a few laps in, the sand begins to smell. You will either have to return to the wheels of the previous diameter or put a reinforced clutch. The standard one is only suitable when driving on the highway. The smoothness of the course on the sand is acceptable - you can not be afraid to bite your tongue. But with rapid movement over potholes, the suspension does not have time to work out every unevenness, and the light machine starts to shake great. However, a car for outdoor activities cannot and should not be unnecessarily comfortable. A good shake-up is necessary.

Note that thanks to the deep solid fenders, the engine compartment is well protected from sand and dirt flying from under the wheels. The interior of the car is the hobby of the company "Cardi." Like last year's model, it is made quite simply, but with taste. It's hard to believe that all the devices are taken from the "Field." The buttons and levers are made with special ingenuity. Chrome and light skin against the background of two body shades - this technique was used on expensive sports cars in the 50s and 60s. The leather-covered three-spoke steering wheel of Nardi is also in the style of those years. The instrument panel is original and extremely concise.

The solidly leather-covered "eight-piece" seats have a standard set of adjustments. There is a decent-sized luggage compartment behind the seats. Access to it is possible only through the salon, with the back of the chair tilted forward. The roof is an easily removable plastic panel that easily fits in the luggage compartment.

The car as a whole evokes one feeling - admiration for the beautiful handmade work. In fairness, we note that the design of such bodies is quite applied -the designers want to create a market niche and fill it themselves. In the case of the Suzuki X90, this is precisely the case. In the case of Next, the advantages of manual work with a serial chassis are demonstrated. Judge for yourself. Five enthusiasts create an original car in a year and then replicate it. With a small-scale replication, the price of the car would be about $15,000. One must think that Cardi does not sell its products "cheaper than work."

It turns out that in Russia, it is more profitable to produce small-scale "exclusives" until giant factories learn how to make normal cars for an average price. In any case, the consumer will not lose.

Source: Иван В. Падерин, Алексей Костюк - "Тайга" в бикини (Журнал "Мотор" 10-1996) (translated from Russian)