After decades of being on production lines and export lists Niva 4X4 is probably one AutoVAZ model which got people all over the word recognizing and appreciating it, having formed an army of fans, some of which still believe there’s no better car for their needs. This is something few Lada models can brag about so a vehicle which is considered to be reliable in various parts of the world is worth having a closer look at.
Niva is both suitable for off-road and city driving and if you had a chance to check out Russian roads you’d understand why this was crucial for Niva to shoot to fame so fast and stay popular for so long. This car, which is by the way considered to be the very first crossover manufactured, has accomplished what other Lada models couldn’t and here’s a couple of facts from throughout its existence:
- Wanna know how reliable Niva is? the only thing you need to know is that it has reached the North Pole, been to Everest and as the car Russian explorers used in harsh Antarctic climate.
- During the period of peak production about 80% of cars were manufactured to be exported to other countries.
- The only Russian car which made it to the Japanese market is Niva.
- German Niva club is the biggest fan club of the model in the world and Germany can boast the biggest number of various Niva modifications being used.
- With general decline in sales of other VAZ models during the last decade the sales of Niva in Russia have stayed at the level of about 50 thousand cars per year.
Now it’s become clear why Lada Niva 4×4 is loved not just in Russia and why it has been manufactured for so long. The production was launched in 1977 and despite minor changes and transformations which were introduced the appearance of the car hasn’t changes much since the time it was designed back in the USSR when a team of engineers came up with a brilliant idea: why not combine off-road chassis and a regular passenger car body. This way thy got to kill two birds with one stone which seemed to exclude one another before: providing comfort while being behind the wheel and increasing passability.
Up to 2014 all major changes introduced to the car Lada Niva 4X4 had to do with engine solely and were caused by the necessity to live up to European international standards on fumes and to increase power while working on fuel efficiency.
Currentlythere’re three Lads Niva 4X4 models available for purchasing:
- VAZ-2121 3-door Lada 4X4
- VAZ-2131 5-door Lada 4X4
- crossover Lada 4X4 Urban
All Lada Niva models look alike: simple, plain, old-school.And it doesn’t really matter when the car was produced ‒ in 1980 or in 2014 – you will still get pretty much the same vehicle appearance-wise. The only thing which can give away the latest models is bigger rear view mirrors borrowed from CheviNiva and daytime running lights above front lights. The 3-door Lada 4X4 has a rectangular like body, round lights, narrow pillars, old-fashioned windows, small rear lights and bumpers which stick out and look more like steps. You wouldn’t call it a modern car, but at this point it’s really hard to change the design without losing recognition.
What will definitely draw your attention and make picture the car somewhere off-roadin the forest or field is impressive clearance and hood and body which is almost the same length as chassis. If you’re looking for a car which would be able to take you anywhere without getting stuck you’d probably care more about its performance rather than its looks.
The only way the 5-door VAZ-2131 is different from the previous model is so evident we’re not gonna mention it. The thing which is worth mentioning though is that the chassis is also a little bit longer, which allowed backseat passengers to travel with bigger comfort and increased the trunk volume at the same time. Weird, but with all these benefits it didn’t beat the 3-door model in popularity and has always been produced in smaller batches. One of the reasons to this might be the body which became less sturdy and another thing is that long-chassis Lada 4X4 had worse passability.
The only Niva which stands out is Niva Urban: it has less angles, new plastic bumpers, bigger rear view mirrors and cast wheels of bigger diameter. Still even with all these changes it’s quite recognizable. It’s still Niva.
Don’t expect too much from auto Lada Niva 4X4 on the inside: this car has never been exquisite and is valued for other features. Comfort is definitely something Lada Niva 4X4 lacks, but people are ready to put up with cheap hard plastic, old-fashioned minimalist dashboard and a bit of rattling and squeaking while driving. On top of that air conditioning is only added into top car configuration and has to be payed for separately. Other drawbacks are that the ignition is located to the left from the wheel, which is not really convenient, and that the wheel can not be adjusted, which might upset taller drivers. Backseat passengers will complain of the lack of space and there’re no headrests which actually violates safety rules. As for the trunk, it’s volume is only 265 liters unless you unfold the backseat and get 585 liters instead. Seats are pretty comfortable though, but it’s not enough to call the whole car comfy.
Lada Urban is much better with a lot of solutions borrowed from Lada Priora and it has the same pros and cons: seat and mirror heating, window lifters, new lights, better seat fabric and rubber rugs vs old-school dashboard, which could be better.
Specs and safety
Lada Niva 4X4 has a 1.7 liter displacement 83 hp gasoline engine which matches the Euro-4 standard. It’s a full-drive 5-level mechanical transmission car with consumption of fuel of 10.8 liters per 100 kms. Its top speed is 137 km/h and it can reach 100 km/h in 19 seconds, but if we’re talking about Lada Urban here, its top speed is higher: 145 km/h with getting to 100 km/h in 17 seconds.
Lada Niva 4×4 is planned to be manufactured till 2021 due to the high demand. Sure, its quality is pretty low and the design is old-fashioned but it’s something a lot of people are ready to make peace with considering its price and passability.