Russian manufacturer presents the new X-Ray compact SUV, plus road and track versions of the Vesta compact saloon at Moscow motor show
27 August 2014

Lada has launched two new models and a new race car at its home Moscow motor show as it bids to reinvent itself as the maker of stylish, desirable, high quality cars with appeal not just to the domestic buyers so loyal to the brand, but also eventually those further afield.

At Moscow it is presenting the X-Ray compact SUV and the Vesta compact saloon, both thinly veiled looks at new families of models that will go on sale from September 2015.

There is also a World Touring Car Championship version of the Vesta saloon that will go racing next year, with two British drivers – Rob Huff and James Thompson – and Russian Mikhail Kozlovskiy behind the wheel.

All this has been made possible by a takeover of Lada’s parent firm Avtovaz by Renault-Nissan, which has gradually been increasing its ownership to now 67.1 per cent of a holding company that controls 74.5 per cent of Avtovaz. Renault acquired an initial 25 per cent stake in 2008 for $1 billion (£600m).

The bold, distinctive new design direction, overseen by British design director Steve Mattin, is the first phase of this reinvention, which is in part backed up by proven Renault-Nissan-sourced platforms and likely powertrains.

Up first in the Lada reinvention is the Vesta, a 4.4-metre B-segment saloon, which will replace the Priora in Lada’s line-up and become its likely second best seller after the smaller 4.2-metre-long Granta saloon when it goes on sale in September 2015.

It’s based on a new modular platform that several different variants of the Vesta and other models are likely to be spawned from. The production car will look almost identical to the four-door concept at Moscow, save for some detail in the headlights and slightly narrower wings.

The Vesta will be seen first though in WTCC racer form, when the 2015 season starts next spring. Unusually, the Lada road car design team has worked with the Lada Sport design, and Mattin, who gave Autocar an exclusive preview of the new Ladas before the Moscow show, believes the Vesta’s layout and proportions lends itself to a competitive racer far better than the Granta. A Lada Sport-fettled version of the Vesta saloon is already being mooted to further link the road and race programmes.

The final car in the trio is the second X-Ray concept. It’s closely related to the Dacia Sandero Stepway under the skin, but with a bespoke Lada look inside and out. Clearly inspired by the original three-door X-Ray concept, the now five-door model is still officially a concept, but a much closer look at the production car that’s due on sale in early 2016. A family of X-Ray vehicles is also planned.

Mattin says is not quite as close to production as the Vesta, but “every detail has a production relevance”. It’s another potential big seller for Lada, as the market is also subject to the global boom of popularity in compact SUVs.

That front face is the most eye-catching part of Lada’s reinvention. Mattin studied rivals and wanted to do something completely different from the horizontal front-ends and trapezoidal and single-frame front grilles currently dominating the industry.

He settled on the ‘X’ theme, a bold treatment that connects the headlights, front grille, lower air intake and front fogs. The angle and size of the X can be changed for different models to give it a different treatment, but maintaining the new strategic look. “It’s simple and bold,” says Mattin, “X is a strong letter.”

The X theme can be seen all over the new-look Ladas. Look at the new cars in their sleek profiles, and another X is spelled out in the bodywork, something Mattin describes as “clean and simple, really emphasising the wheels”.

There’s another X in the rear light graphics, and the side X runs around the rear light clusters to create another X. “Everywhere you look you see an X,” says Mattin, something that even applies inside, where the plusher, more European-like cabins with large touchscreens and higher quality materials are also furnished with Lada’s new favourite letter on the seat fabrics among other locations.

The newfound boldness and confidence is also reflected in the Lada name being spelled out across the back of the new cars, and a more modern looking and bigger badge created for the brand also. After the Vesta and X-Ray, the new look and brand identity will be rolled out across the rest of the range. 

Read our full review of the Dacia Sandero Stepway

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Comments
21

27 August 2014

Well, these look much better than the oh so boring new XC90 that Volvo launched today, but why so long to get the X-Ray into production - its a rebodied Dacia Stepway (ie basically a 1998 clio) cant see why they need so much time.

27 August 2014
Lewis Kingston wrote:

Lada has launched two new models and a new race car at its home Moscow motor show as it bids to reinvent itself as the maker of stylish, desirable, high quality cars with appeal not just to the domestic buyers so loyal to the brand, but also eventually those further afield.

That's a considerable ambition they have there, with a VERY long way to go. Basing one of their key new products on a Dacia doesn't seem like a great start.

 

I'm a disillusioned former Citroëniste.

27 August 2014

I like the lines on the fenders and quarterpanels and overall this looks pretty decent for saloon and SUV. However, as has already been noted, the quality and age of the underpinnings are set to let them down straight out of the box. They should be hearty which is a necessity in eastern Europe but it will be very much a regional rather than a global product.

27 August 2014

Renault seem to be hoovering up brands that will rob it of sales. They are shooting themselves in the foot; no-one sees Renault as a premium brand. At least GM have wised up and are closing Chevrolet in Europe.

27 August 2014

Dacia prices have crept up since launch, significantly given the cheap and cheerful remit of the brand; the replacement models for the current vehicles will be more expensive again and no doubt feel more 'premium' and the value for money segment will have been deserted…..just in time for a Lada entry which will then do exactly the same as Dacia and in time leave a gap for another cheap and cheerful entry…

27 August 2014

Said no one, ever.


27 August 2014

Are these real (Lada) cars or concepts? I had a rather different image of Lada in my mind.

28 August 2014
fadyady wrote:

Are these real (Lada) cars or concepts? I had a rather different image of Lada in my mind.

For someone who seems to know everyrhing about cars, you certainly must have lived under a rock if you think Lada still produce the archaic Riva - they ceased that monstrosity last year. In the 90's they were producing the updated samara, and since the noughties have had a few moderls out, the priora - ghastly, and the granta - a rebadged dacia sandero! Still producing that agricultural Niva, but then i guess its a good off-roader made for that purpose. Crap on road though, and panel gaps you could live in !

28 August 2014

I'd rather spend the money on getting Ebola than a Lada

28 August 2014

These cars look more premium than Dacia and indeed some Renault . However looks can be and frequently are deceiving. The vests sits too high on its chassis for my liking, and to be truly premium, but this is probably more to the liking of and indeed necessity of Russian drivers on Russian roads.

The Range Roveresque badging on the boot is certainly a statement. This is no discrete re-invention. This is not a case of 'that's nice?, what is it........ really!'

The proof will be in the eating, or driving, or ownership. And, the pictures of some of the surfaces on the dashboard instantly made me think hard and shiny, cheap. Volkswagen took Skoda and justifiably slapped anyone across the face who considered their new baby as a continuing communist joke. Indeed, Volkswagen probably presented Skoda too well and ate into parental sales if the deliberate utilitarian bland looks of the rapid mean anything.

The question now, has Lada been a communist throwback in motorists subconscious for too long now to be taken seriously? Only the price will tell.

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