Lada Niva

13 Aug, 2010 11:00am Keith Adams

Verdict on reborn 4x4, back from the USSR!

Verdict

2
Rough, tough, rugged and chunky to drive, the Lada Niva won’t appeal to sophisticated SUV drivers – it feels like a car from the past. Unsurprisingly, the UK importer is targeting the agricultural market, offering it as an alternative to a second-hand Land Rover Defender. With a two-year warranty and a whole load of old-school appeal, it has a certain charm – although its best days are long behind it.

NO, your eyes aren’t deceiving you. This really is a Lada Niva, and you can buy it new for less than £10,000! Although you would be forgiven for thinking it died years ago, Russia’s favourite 4x4 is still in production, and it’s being imported to the UK again for the first time since 1997.

As you can see, it doesn’t look any different to when it went on sale in 1978. It comes only in left-hand drive, with a 1.7-litre petrol engine, but Niva Imports offers the car in dual-fuel form, so you can refill with LPG at 66p per litre.

The interior is basic and not terribly comfortable, while there are three simple levers sprouting from the transmission tunnel to control low/high ratios, the diff lock and the five-speed box.
Space is in short supply in the rear, and the LPG tank takes up most of the luggage bay. Yet despite these drawbacks, the Niva appeals with its old-fashioned honesty, plus its off-road ability.

On the road, it’s a mixed bag – the engine is refined, but the steering is vague and low-geared, while the non-ABS brakes don’t exactly inspire confidence. Performance is leisurely, with 0-60mph in 17.5 seconds.

But the car is accomplished in mud and gravel, and the short wheelbase, high ground clearance and torquey engine ensure only the roughest terrain will stop it.

Disqus - noscript

No no no...What are the importers thinking? Designed by a child.The interior has barely chnged since the 70's with it's wind up windows etc. New engines but petrol??? . the gas conversion takes any room you may have had. Non ABS ??? Left hand drive only..the list of calamities goes on and on.
It may appeal to a few diehards or farmers but at £5000 I'd still have to think about it and say NO...Rubbish 30 years ago and it still is. What's next -the Polski Fiat?

If only them Russians thought it through and updated the car with a few superficial safety and comfort enhancements, offered it in correct hand drive, they might have been on to something! Engine, diesel, 1.6 from any of today's manufacturers. Air-bags for head and side impact. ABS ( I thought all cars must have ABS as standard), an electric power assisted steering, a bit of revision in the driving position and updated dash design. Then, you would have a very competitive package that people would want!

even at "a mere £10,000", i cant see it appealing to anyone, except some old nostalgics, who have come into a bit of money. not many people in the UK will be warm to its rustic charms, when for similar money you can get a good used defender. ontop of that petrol engines with LPG are still not considered a mainstream engine choice, over the usual TDI set up.
lets not even mention depreciation either. look at the 2nd hand values of these and you will see what i mean.

I welcome this news - the last 2 winters my family & I have been cut-off from our nearest road (half a mile away down an unmade track), and I've ripped the front valance and/or plastic sump guard off 2 hatchbacks already, but I cannot afford most of the vehicles which are up to the required job of basic off-road transport, because they are overloaded with expensive luxury (unnecessary) features, keeping the price stupidly high until they have at least 100,000 miles on the clock. The Lada's design IS basic, but if its mechanical simplicity means it is cheap and won't easily break off-road, I would seriously consder a new or nearly new one of these instead of a 10-previous-owner Defender. Likewise, the impending Dacia Duster (which may be a better bet than the Lada) WILL have a real, if small, target of people for whom it does all that is required.

I welcome this news - the last 2 winters my family & I have been cut-off from our nearest road (half a mile away down an unmade track), and I've ripped the front valance and/or plastic sump guard off 2 hatchbacks already, but I cannot afford most of the vehicles which are up to the required job of basic off-road transport, because they are overloaded with expensive luxury (unnecessary) features, keeping the price stupidly high until they have at least 100,000 miles on the clock. The Lada's design IS basic, but if its mechanical simplicity means it is cheap and won't easily break off-road, I would seriously consder a new or nearly new one of these instead of a 10-previous-owner Defender. Likewise, the impending Dacia Duster (which may be a better bet than the Lada) WILL have a real, if small, target of people for whom it does all that is required.

I welcome this news - the last 2 winters my family & I have been cut-off from our nearest road (half a mile away down an unmade track), and I've ripped the front valance and/or plastic sump guard off 2 hatchbacks already, but I cannot afford most of the vehicles which are up to the required job of basic off-road transport, because they are overloaded with expensive luxury (unnecessary) features, keeping the price stupidly high until they have at least 100,000 miles on the clock. The Lada's design IS basic, but if its mechanical simplicity means it is cheap and won't easily break off-road, I would seriously consder a new or nearly new one of these instead of a 10-previous-owner Defender. Likewise, the impending Dacia Duster (which may be a better bet than the Lada) WILL have a real, if small, target of people for whom it does all that is required.

When I read the headline I was hoping for some skoda-esque type transformation of Lada but it looks like they are the same old company making the same old cars.
I'm thinking of a cheap 4x4 myself, but the forthcoming Dacia Duster will be lightyears ahead of this.

For £10,400 you get a brand new proper 4x4 that runs on lpg - farmers and keen off-roaders will want one, and quite a few others will too. How much will the Dacia Duster cost in comparison and how good will it be off-road?

I purchased a new Niva via france in 2005 power, steering was an optional extra. I had it converted to LPG in this country and yes the 110litre tank was in the boot. The extra weight in the boot altered the handling slightly making it very neutral. I wrote it off in am accident in 2007. My replacement came again from France, this time power sterring was standard and i took the option of LPG fitted in France, much cheaper than here with the 60litre tank under the boot floor. The rear spings on that newer model are softer than before probably from the Chevy Niva.
Both were bought from Alan Bird Car Sales and niether cost any thing like £10,000. Brilliant work-horses they took me all over Scotland in all weather even going non stop to Campbeltown on the 17th of January 2007 whe many roads were regarded as impassable, 40 miles of the journey with the dif lock on. Built for Siberia not Suburbia!

In response to biggsy24 - I'd seen videos of the Dacia Duster in action off road and it looked pretty competitive but its not going to be in the same league as something like a Defender.

But my biggest mistake was believing the press hype surrounding the pricing of the Dacia Duster - everyone in the press is reporting a starting price of around £11K but I've just found a French brochure online which states a price of 14K Euros for a 2 wheel drive petrol base model and 22,390 Euros for the 4x4 diesel - not such a great deal now!

For anyone who knows what they're talking about and actually use these four wheel drive vehicles daily for their capability, unlike the majority of british drivers who seem more pre occupied with looks comfort and how many things you can electrically assist nowdays, these are without any doubt,THE best value for money in the world. They just keep going and going. It;s always the same story, those who have never driven or owned one are always the first to condemn them, keep up the good work people, it keeps the prices down for those of us who know and admire them! Perhaps if the manufacturers placed a prancing horse on the radiator instead of a lada badge, the Top Gear presenters and then of course everyone else would be drooling over them.

There's a lot of B***S***! written about vehicles and its usually by the press, however that's another story,...but, finally, here we have an option to the plastic bubbles and Barbie & Ken inspired 4 x 4s on sale, from the main stream suppliers of "Quality" vehicles. Look how they started and what's on option now!
The Niva's looks are quaint, durable and adequate, but at least you can tell what they are, rather than go and squint at the plastic badge; they are serviceable by a fairly knowledgeable owners and admittedly basic, but they do the job, that is, to get you from A to B effectively and they do not cost the Earth to run and maintain.

Everything on them can be improved, if you so wish, as it goes its a pity as yet they are not not right-hand drive and the LPG tank is not tucked imaginatively somewhere else, but those that need a rugged car Worldwide buy them and put them to in extreme use and here the Niva, can cut the mustard, you do not get much tougher than Siberia.

This recession isn't going to magic itself away, and I think Russia is doing us a favour, producing these cars as they were originally with slight improvements. Image is everything boys, but you have to grow up a little to realise that, in my view the main producers are no longer producing vehicles that suit everybody's pocket or aspirations however lowly they may be. Just watch diesel prices rise over the winter and as far as fuel and power is concerned, people may have to start to consider LPG seriously. One for me please!

Cheers

Hello everyone.

I'm russian.

Niva is not so reliable vehicle as honda, but out of road it's the best i guess.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

Thank you.

Hi, I am the UK importer and would like to offer anyone the opportunity to make their own mind up about the incredibly capable and rugged Niva.

If anyone fancies a test drive contact me via www.markkey.co.uk

It might not be a Rolls Royce but it will get you out of the crap when it matters, for half the price of a Land Rover.

The guy that got his cars for loads less than 10k must have had a used one. Take a look at the French/German dealers sites and do the currency conversion on a new Niva - my cars are less than theirs!

A shame this article is based on comparisons to standard new passenger cars. Rugged ability is what you get with a Niva.

All the best,

Mark

Niva Imports

Oh - and re: steering, low geared... the Niva now has power steering - Keith must have been thinking of the old model!

Mark

The uk is screaming for a techno free diesel pocket sized rhd 4x4 !! get the niva a diesel unit, like a peugot 1.9 engine, get it rhd & its a great work horse, fun car. They will sell ........at the right price :). We dont want fancy electrics ecu& soace shuttle technology, we want good trditional mechanics , easy fix 4x4, that will do the job economically!! simples .........i have had the previous nivas & rivas, solid & dependable.

I drove one of these back in the '80's and yes it was basic,but there wasn't much you couldn't do in it or with it!

The new model IS improved over the old one albeit not much.
Myself I drive a 2008 Daihatsu Terios and a lot of the press slag it off BUT I think it's brilliant WHEN YOU LOOK AT WHAT IT COST. For 13.5K I got a brand new proper 4WD which is actually capable of going off road and mine regularly does ( with fourwheeldriveclub.com).
IF i was in the market with 10K to spend i would seriously look at the Niva, because unless you want something with starship mileage that's been abused and full of rust, what else is there?
I say it's good value,oh, and they're FUN too

great- a no frills off roader that will trounce the flimsy jap soft roaders, but at 10k in left hand drive only? no...
autovaz make right hookers for west africa so they are available.
10 grand is too much. they'd fly out if you could chop em out for about 7.

At the time of writing, brand-new, unregistered 1,7 litre Nivas sell for 325,000 Rubles. At current exchange rate that is about £6,500 GBP. I have no info about export/tax breaks.

I see many Nivas on the roads, which can be pretty awful, and almost all look in good condition, irrespective of age.

Personally, I do not want modern frills, such as electric windows, ABS and central locking, on a car - just more things that can break and require expensive repair.

My current vehicle is a 1990 Talbot Express, 2,5 litre diesel, still going strongly, with about 123,000 miles on the clock.

I had a Lada Niva when I was working in Tbilisi, Georgia. It was HORRIBLE! The head-gasket went with under 1,000 miles on the clock and hence water was in the oil and oil in the water. The only good thing was that nobody wanted to steal it!!

Lada Niva along with the Defender are the two best off road vehicles.Optimum speed for The Niva is 90 km .I have Niva tiaga myself .It has ABS ,powered steering,1.7 engine ,LPG,EURO 5 standard(some elecric items have been added to the engine ).For the price of 9900 Euro it is the best choice.

http://www.autoexpress.co.uk/c...

OOPS...THATS THE LINK I WANTED TO SHARE
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

Could manage without the racial slurs, Oman.

See! You are a Japanese!

Shocked that no one seems to remember that for many years after 1997 Alan Bird imported Lada Nivas to order, I bought a new one from him in 2005 and had it converted to LPG locally I replaced it in 2007 again new but converted to LPG by Lada France. I even took them to Alan for servicing which meant driving from Alloa to Penrith and back every time because I knew that my car would be serviced properly with nothing missed or skimped on. I sold mine when I retired since I no longer needed such a robust vehicle. I still miss my Niva.

This report is a total Imperial-metric mishmash. Call yourself a professional journalist" I`ve known smarter washer women.

Key specs

* Price: £9,995
* Engine: 1.7-litre 4cyl petrol
* Transmission: Five-speed manual, four-wheel drive
* Power: 79bhp
* 0-60mph: 17.5 seconds
* Top speed: 90mph
* Economy: 31mpg
* Towing capacity: 1,610kg
* Standard equipment: Switchable low-range gearbox, diff lock
* On sale: Now

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