Feb 16 2011

Bye Bye Taxis!

Category: Kazakh Driving,PersonalChrisM @ 8:02 pm
Red Suzuki SX4 Car On Snow

Red Suzuki SX4 Car On Snow

After years of talking about it, we have finally bought a car here in Astana. One of the things I miss most from everyday life is the freedom that having our own car (thanks Mum and John) gives us back in Britain. Conversely, I have also sworn that I would never regularly drive over here in Kazakhstan. Put simply, to a Brit most drivers here seem to have gone a bit mad. See the previous posts from the Kazakh Driving category for more details, but a complete lack of lane discipline, traffic police that supplement their regular income with interesting reasons for stopping you, an almost Indian attitude to leaving your safety in fate’s hands meant that I had not wanted to get behind the wheel over here.

Orange Suzuki SX4

Orange Suzuki SX4

However with Anna going to playgroup twice a week, shopping and visiting the in-laws every weekend, the cost of all the taxis (combined with problems with their punctuality), Irina persuaded me we should get a car. Originally I hoped we would get something second hand (as a friend was selling his car) and a little more powerful, but as Irina’s parents are covering two thirds of the cost, and they were worried about the reputation second hand car purchases have over here, we eventually found a model that seemed to tick the most amount of boxes with all concerned.
We have already purchased the car, but with Kazakh bureaucracy being what it is, we may be able to drive it ourselves around the weekend. When you buy a car here, you need to register and fill in forms with different departments, and we also obviously need to get some winter tyres, as trying to drive for the first time in a new car (on the wrong side of the road 🙂 ), in snow, being used to a UK driving style, sliding around in the icy conditions wouldn’t be helpful. We’re REALLY grateful to the friends who have advised us, took us around car showrooms and then assisted with sourcing tyres, getting through paperwork process and of course Ira’s parents for funding this.

Red Suzuki SX4 Crossover

Red Suzuki SX4 Crossover

I haven’t yet seen the car during daylight hours, and we’ve not get any photos of it, but to give you an idea, I’ve included some stock ones above that look about right. Part of the problem is that the exact models seemed to be named differently by Suzuki in different countries (I think it is probably the crossover model). Basically ours is an SX4, hatchback style, raised off the ground (definitely a good idea with the state of the smaller city-roads here) and AWD. All Wheel Drive, which I only discovered isn’t the same as 4WD whilst checking which car to get, means that the car can be set to use both front and rear axles for drive, as opposed to being permanently in four wheel drive. Anyway, come the summer months, selecting front wheel drive will improve fuel economy, but whilst there is so much ice and snow around, the car can be set to auto, meaning the rear wheels kick in when it detects the front is losing traction. You can lock the all wheel drive mode on, but this switches back to auto above 60kph, drinks the fuel and if done on normal or just plain (rain) wet roads, places the mechanics under a lot more stress.
Anyway, I’m sure this topic will appear quite frequently over the coming weeks so I’ll shut up for now, I just wanted to share the good news about our new arrival.