The Oddity of Russian Utility: 2015 Lada Niva Urban Revealed
Photos of everyone’s favorite Russian SUV, the Lada Niva, have been leaked ahead of its August debut at the 2014 Moscow Auto Show, and it appears that the 37-year-old ute will see a minor facelift for 2015. AvtoVaz originally put the Niva (now called the ‘4x4’) into production in 1977 and as you can see from the styling and amenities in the new ‘Urban’ model, the company hasn’t exactly changed the formula much. The new 4x4 Urban channels iconic Range Rovers of the past with a revised three-slat front radiator grille as well as body-colored bumpers. New 17-inch five-spoke alloy wheels tuck underneath those rugged bumpers, albeit covered by plastic hubcaps.
RELATED: See more photos of the original 1978 Lada Niva 4x4
Inside, more sound-deadening material has been added, along with power windows and air-conditioning. While subtle, the changes do help to remove a bit of the agriculture from this barebones off-roader. Power for the Lada Niva Urban is expected to come from the current 1.7-liter four-cylinder engine, good for 84 stampeding Russian ponies, mated to a five-speed manual gearbox that feeds power to a full-time four-wheel drive system.
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It’s a formidable little off-roader complete with front, rear, and center differentials; just don’t expect speed to accompany capability. The current Niva (weighing in at 2,667 lbs.) does 0-60mph in 22 seconds before running out of steam at 85 mph.
Petty prods aside, this is truly one of those back-to-basics automobiles that we wish we could still buy in the US – cars that we could fix with an adjustable wrench, some ambiguously sized washers, and tape. However, the Niva’s 37-year run is expected to come to an end when an all-new version debuts for 2016.