“There are no roads in Russia, only directions.” So, apparently, said Napoleon Bonaparte, the man who led the French invasion of the world’s largest country. It’s a quite highbrow historical reference to help explain the Avtoros Shaman, the 8WD beast you see before you.
Why is a two-century-old quote relevant to a bonkers extension of the SUV market? Because Russia, despite its vast scale, really is quite short of roads. As such, its people have churned out a variety of solutions on how to cross its terrain, some of them more ingenious than others. A Lada Niva on tank tracks, for instance.
The Shaman, though – or the шаман in the Cyrillic script the Russians use – is an altogether different proposition: a ground-up all-terrain vehicle (ATV) that’s been 10 years in the making. It’s a product of the youthful, post-Soviet generation keen to make local produce to be proud of, with a fastidious approach to keeping components and materials homegrown.
Photography: Justin Leighton
This feature was originally published in the November 2015 issue of Top Gear magazine