Is this modern concept even uglier than the original?
We last saw them back in the 90s and with a paltry 70kW and 140Nm. The 1.7-litre petrol four-banger wasn’t renowned for, well, much in the way of performance, and a nifty five-speed manual gearbox that is as robust as the rest of the drivetrain … at least the brave little soldiers were straightforward to repair … if you could get parts! They are very capable off-road, even taking a couple of places in the Paris Dakar Rally of the early 80s.
Fast-forward to current day, and we’re now seeing the Lada 4X4 Vision. First displayed at the 2018 Moscow Motor Show, it’s a concept car with a strong family resemblance to other recent Lada productions, with the 4X4 Vision featuring bold ‘X’ styling in the side panels, radiator grille and headlights. A far cry from the Niva, the interior is flash and modern, with more of the ‘X’ styling as well as GPS navigation and digital instrument cluster and some very bold accents. From an off-road point of view, short front and rear overhangs are impressive, as is the ramp over angle. The 21-inch rims and road tyres are a bit of a miss but at least they look better than the old steelies of the Niva. With a length of 4.2 metres, negligibly more than a Sierra ute, it should be as nimble as anything else on the market today, if not better.
Lada are rebadged and rebodied by Chevrolet for USA sale; perhaps Holden will see a market in Australia for a cheap, fun and practical small 4X4 to compete in the niche currently filled only by the Suzuki Jimny. A small SUV with actual capability would sit in the Holden range nicely, like a mini Trailblazer.