What do you take from something that has nothing? It turns out, not much.
Amid the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, Russia has restarted the Lada Niva production line at the brand’s Togliatti factory, 1000km south-east of Moscow.
Production was halted in March, as international sanctions impacted the importation of parts that were required to complete the cars.
However, in May this year, the Russian government relaxed the requirements for systems that needed microchips or imported hardware to be fitted to cars, allowing manufacturers to build new cars with what they had available.
This change in legislation means that cars can be offered for sale without ABS braking systems (usually supplied by German brand Bosch), forego front-impact crash tests (and thus not require airbags or seatbelt pretensioning systems), SOS-assist functions or even Euro 5 emission controls.
For the Lada Niva, which is still essentially the same as it was in 1977, it’s almost a return to form.
Produced as the Niva Classic ’22, the stripped-back Lada dumps the Bosch ABS and ‘ERA-GLONASS’ 4G accident alert systems, but retains power steering, electric front windows and wiring harness for a two-speaker stereo – but not the single-DIN radio unit itself.
Given there are no airbags or intelligent seatbelt pretension systems to remove – just the original force-based mechanical ones – there’s no impact to the Classic ’22’s safety setup. It’s still very much a car that you don’t want to have an accident in.
The Lada website still lists the pre-stripped Niva at 818,900 rubles ($AU21,000) but we’d expect the Classic ’22 to eventually be offered at a reduced price.
In the meantime, prices of new or near-new Nivas in markets outside of Russia are on the rise, with sanctions stopping any new vehicle exports.
The rugged Niva Bronto (with differential locks, heavy duty rear axle and all-terrain tyres) lists in Russia for 1,134,900 rubles ($AU29,000) but examples in Italy are commanding a €32,000 ($AU48,000) asking price.
James has been part of the digital publishing landscape in Australia since 2002 and has worked within the automotive industry since 2007. He joined CarAdvice in 2013, left in 2017 to work with BMW and then returned at the end of 2019 to spearhead the content direction of Drive.