Announced as part of parent company Groupe Renault's 'Renaulution' business plan overnight, Lada has confirmed it will introduce four new models by 2025, one of which will be an all-new generation of its Niva off-roader, due sometime in 2024 – a spiritual successor to the iconic, 'first-generation' Niva, introduced in 1977 under Soviet ownership.
While few details of the new model have been announced, a teaser sketch released by the Russian brand points to a retro-styled design inspired by the original, with boxy proportions, large LED headlights with distinctive daytime-running lights, and indicators mounted above the main lighting units – the lattermost design cue borrowed directly from its predecessor.
Metallic 'NIVA' script spans across the near-rectangular grille, while increasing the lighting on the sketch reveals a five-door design with hidden rear door handles – a fitting compromise between the three-door shape typically associated with the classic Niva (though a five-door is offered), and the practicality associated with a pair of rear openings.
While the new-generation Niva's design might echo that of its iconic predecessor, its off-road capabilities remain an unknown quantity, with Lada confirming the new 2024 model will ride on Renault's modern CMF-B modular architecture.
While CMF-B is a monocoque chassis like that employed by the classic Niva, an all- or four-wheel-drive system hasn't been developed for the platform, with the Renault Clio hatch, Nissan Juke small SUV and other cars riding on the architecture driving the front wheels only.
Above: The classic Lada Niva. Bottom of story: Not just any Lada Niva... the 1988 example owned by CarAdvice's own James Ward.
Lada's recent decision to grant the original Niva its original nameplate (rather than '4x4') suggests the 2024 model will not replace the classic model sold since 1977, but rather the newer Niva 'II', unveiled in 1999 and underpinned by a monocoque four-wheel-drive architecture derived from American giant General Motors.
"The launch of all new Niva in 2024 will definitively mark an important date for LADA in Russia but will also open new horizons for the brand," said Yves Caracatzanis, CEO of AutoVAZ Group (with Lada being the name applied to AutoVAZ vehicles in export markets).
On sale in Russia since 1977, the Niva has grown a cult following for its no-nonsense rugged design and dependability, thanks to its roots in the former Soviet Union as a go-anywhere vehicle designed for the then-underdeveloped rural areas of the communist bloc.
Above: The GM-based, monocoque Lada Niva II, pictured above in facelifted form.
Sharing its platform with the well-known Lada sedan (dubbed Riva in many international markets post-1980), 2.5 million units were sold up to the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, with multiple millions more understood to have been shifted since then.
The Niva was last sold in Australia in 1998, in three-door guise only.