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
Get the latest car news, reviews and galleries from Autocar direct to your inbox every week. Enter your email address below: