Russian manufacturer Lada will launch a redesigned version of its rugged Niva 4×4 for the first time since the model appeared 45 years ago.
Previewed today as part of a wider brand revamp for parent company Groupe Renault, the next-generation Niva will arrive in 2024 as one of four all-new Ladas to be launched in the next four years.
Along with sibling brand Dacia, Lada will underpin future models with Renault’s CMF-B modular platform in line with a strategy to expand the two value brands into new markets and segments. Crucially for the Niva, this means a landmark shift away from the basic unibody underpinnings upon which it has been based since 1976.
To go with the mechanical transformation, the Niva will also undergo an extensive design transformation to bring it into the new age.
A design sketch suggests its most recognisable styling elements – namely its circular headlights and high-mounted, oblong indicators – will be retained but reimagined, while flared wheel arches and chunkier bumpers will bring it into line, design-wise, with rival off-roaders.
Lada is set to expand its line-up significantly, with a new C-segment SUV due to top the line-up at some point before 2025.
It will, however, maintain its budget billing, so the Niva won’t seek to rival premium off-roaders like the Land Rover Defender and Mercedes-Benz G-Class. It will remain, the company said, “a technical product for usage in extreme conditions” with a “high stance, short gears and robust construction”.
The Niva was the first series-production 4×4 to use a monocoque – or unibody – chassis, which was innovative for being lighter than then-conventional body-on-frame construction methods and offered a distinct advantage off-road.
Lada has been a part of Groupe Renault since 2008, when the French manufacturer bought shares in its parent company, Avtovaz. The 2024 Niva won’t be the first Lada to use Renault-derived mechanicals (the X-Ray shares a platform with the previous Dacia Duster), but it could be the first to receive an electrified drivetrain option as part of Groupe Renault’s renewed electrification push.
Lada currently enjoys a 20% market share in its home market, with the Granta and Vesta holding the first and second spots in the Russian sales charts respectively.