Lada updates the Niva again, and it’s ready to roll in 2020

In 1977, the Soviet Union’s Lada Niva became the world’s first unibody SUV, leaving imperialist carmaker Mercedes-Benz with two more years to come up with its archaic ladder-framed G-Wagen. Last year, Mercedes-Benz finally decided to launch a new G-Class, which features an independent front suspension and doors as thick as those in a nuclear bunker, all in the name of safety, comfort, and this whole 21st-century vibe. Lada 4×4 producer AvtoVAZ pities the fools.

For 2020, the off-roader you may know as the VAZ-2121, Lada Super, Bushman, Cossack, Fora, Hussar, Job, Sport, Taiga, Niva, or perhaps even the Bognor Diva—in case you’re from Uruguay—comes with a bunch of upgrades. Yet it still has everything you like: short wheelbase, trusty 1.7-liter four-pot with fuel injection, manual everything, and plastics that will stay in your hand in the short- to midterm, no doubt.

Lada California
Flickr / Alden Jewell

Lada Canada
Flickr / John Lloyd
Lada Canada
Flickr / John Lloyd

There were days when you could buy a long-wheelbase Niva with four doors or one discussed as a Chevrolet. Today, though, Russia’s AvtoVAZ is owned by the Renault Group, with your 4×4 choices including the regular one on steelies and the “Urban” with those ill-fitting alloys. To demonstrate what’s new for 2020, Lada issued a few renders, but here’s the full summary:

“A new climate system control module appeared on the fully-updated dashboard. Three controls and electronic heater shutter, as well as new air ducts, increase system performance and operation comfort. In addition, the glove box has become more voluminous, two 12-volt sockets were placed on the console, and the instrument cluster received white lighting of the speed meter and tachometer. The onboard computer expanded with new functions. The floor tunnel got new cup holders and a niche for small things.”

And there’s more where that came from: “New, more comfortable seats provide more lateral support. The front seats of the three-door cars received a more reliable folding mechanism and two headrests in the back row of seats, [which] has positively affected the safety level.”

I must say that the fact that the Lada’s headrests have “positively affected the safety level” also positively affected my fun level.

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