Lada’s long-awaited all-new models are entering the last stages of testing, as these spy shots reveal.
These two test cars are the new Vesta compact saloon and the ‘X-Ray’ compact SUV, both of which were revealed at the Moscow motor show last August.
With Russian car maker Avtovaz – owner of the Lada brand - now partly controlled by the Renault-Nissan Alliance, it has been able to use low-cost technology from the wider Renault-Nissan group.
The 4.4m-long Vesta saloon is based on the same budget platform as the recently launched Datsun Go supermini, while the new X-Ray SUV (the production name is yet to be confirmed) is said to be a relation of the successful Dacia Sandero Stepway crossover hatch.
Both cars have been styled by a newly assembled Lada team led by British ex-Volvo design boss Steve Mattin.
The Vesta is expected to be unveiled in showroom trim this September, followed by the X-Ray at the beginning of 2016.
Unfortunately for the plans laid out by Renault-Nissan back in 2012, the relaunch of the Lada brand is set to coincide with the collapse of Russia's new car market.
Because of the trade sanction imposed by Western countries over the Ukraine crisis and the slump in oil prices, the local economy has taken a big hit and Russian new car sales have taken a huge tumble.
According the latest reports, Russia’s new car market fell 10% at the end of 2014 and has slumped another 40% in the first half of 2015.
Bo Andersson, chief executive of Avtovaz, told the Financial Times in June that he thinks Lada can still profit in the dire situation.
Many Western car makers decided to heavily cut back production in Russia, and Andersson thinks Lada could now pick up sales and market share.
These two all-new models will give the Lada brand its biggest boost for years. Russian car buyers are also thought to be inherently patriotic and could see the new Ladas as a more worthy purchase than something from a Western manufacturer.
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