Currently reading: Lada reinvents itself with three bold new models
Russian manufacturer presents the new X-Ray compact SUV, plus road and track versions of the Vesta compact saloon at Moscow motor show

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.


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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. 

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Mark Tisshaw

Title: Editor

Mark is a journalist with more than a decade of top-level experience in the automotive industry. He first joined Autocar in 2009, having previously worked in local newspapers. He has held several roles at Autocar, including news editor, deputy editor, digital editor and his current position of editor, one he has held since 2017.

From this position he oversees all of Autocar’s content across the print magazine, website, social media, video, and podcast channels, as well as our recent launch, Autocar Business. Mark regularly interviews the very top global executives in the automotive industry, telling their stories and holding them to account, meeting them at shows and events around the world.

Mark is a Car of the Year juror, a prestigious annual award that Autocar is one of the main sponsors of. He has made media appearances on the likes of the BBC, and contributed to titles including What Car?Move Electric and Pistonheads, and has written a column for The Sun.

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MrJ 28 August 2014

Why are car designers such

Why are car designers such fashion slaves?

From Merc to Lada, in go those meaningless and inelegant side swages, mostly looking like the results of car park damage.

Einarbb 28 August 2014

Strangely enough I've missed the Lada . . .

. . . they used to be quite common where I live. Now all gone into the ground.
androo 28 August 2014

The Lada problem continues

Lada used to be terrible cars from a terrible country. Then they were terrible cars from an improving country. Now they are going to be improving cars from a worsening country. If I was Ukranian I expect I'd rather drive a mule than one of these. As it is, as a Brit, I would find it impossible to spend any money that might go Putin's way. But as a car enthusiast, I have to say these look pretty good. Surprisingly good in fact. What a shame.
ASamara 18 September 2016

it amuses me how the people

it amuses me how the people of UK and America scorn anything Russian which has been subconsciously instilled into our minds since the post war/cold war days how everything they do is substandard yet I bet have plenty of Korean and Japanese products in your home or driveway!
ASamara 18 September 2016

Correction on going to ground!

I own and still drive a Samara and feel a great connection with it's keep going quality all be it basic which everyone mocks! As mentioned before these cars are not being sold as a vehicle to be compared with the top manufactured cars on offer. It's a like for like, you pay your money and take choice. I noticed more people driving retro cars around resurrected from garages of eighties retirees, this is because you can maintain them yourselves without diagnostic gadgetry. As for going into ground well some aspects of that comment is true but only some as a big majority were collected up by a young Russian and shipped back to the motherland as it's ruggedness was appreciated on demanding Russian roads and climate. looking at the promotional ads of the samara, when sold it came with a six year anti-corrosion warranty, Kia offer seven at present!
michael knight 28 August 2014

Lada Lada

Looks like a worthy MG competitor. How the mighty have fallen. (MG that is..)