RAC Cars News


The Reinvention Of Lada

By raccars Published

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At one time, Russian auto maker Lada went hand in hand with Skoda as the butt of every auto industry joke. The two names came to represent, basically, rubbish cars. However, in the late Nineties and thanks to its new owner, the VW Group, Skoda began possibly the most dramatic image turnaround in history, akin to the conversion of Paul on the road to Damascus. Lada, meanwhile, was left to carry the burden of its awfulness all alone and has languished in the dust ever since.

However, in 2008 Renault paid £600 million for a 25% stake in the company. Lada's parent company Avtovaz gradually ceded control of the brand so that by 2014 the Renault-Nissan Alliance held a controlling interest. While Lada has managed to retain its superiority in its home market of Russia in the years of darkness, it is now coming out of the shadows with a range of new models designed to allow the brand to compete on the wider international stage. Much attention has been paid to styling and build quality, resulting in a new family of Lada cars that will be available from September next year.

Three of these models, a compact saloon called the Vesta, a compact SUV called the X-Ray and a high performance version of the Vesta that will compete in 2015's World Touring Car Championship, were launched in concept form this month on home ground at the Moscow Motor Show. A brand new, distinctive design language was immediately apparent and met with general acclaim, thanks to the input of Steve Mattin, the firm's British director of design. Underneath the rather stylish skins were a range of powertrains and platforms sourced from Renault-Nissan.

Mattin has based Lada's new visual currency around the letter X, distinguishable in the cars' front faces with a four point linked grille, headlamps, air intake and front fog lights arrangement. There are plenty of X echoes elsewhere on the body of the cars, inside and out. Lada is clearly proud of the results of its reinvention, proclaiming its name clearly in the form of a smart new badge.

After the Vesta and X-Ray hit the market, the company plans to extend its new image across its wider range and expand with a planned family cars in the X-Ray family. The modular platform used can be adapted to spawn a number of other new models that Lada hopes will allow it to develop its international appeal.

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