Back on April 5, 1977, the VAZ-2121 “Niva” was entering behind the curtain into series production – and it was a capable off-roader, with permanent four-wheel-drive system, independent front suspension, and front disc brakes.
Four decades later it’s still alive and well – even though it was initially envisioned for the rough countryside. But Russian town dwellers immediately adopted it and the model has also had a consistent fame outside of its home market. While the communism was against such practices, there were moments in the model’s life that around 70 percent of the production was going outside of Russia – and the model was not only reaching numerous European countries, but even Japan. That was actually thanks to a right-hand-drive Niva created back in the 1980s to allow the automaker to sell its model in additional markets.
While the car still looks the part of the 1970s – and should be considered next to timeless models such as the Defender or the Wrangler – AvtoVAZ is keen to point out it has updated the Niva over the years. Its latest version is the “Urban”, which has amenities such as air conditioning, body-colored plastic bumpers, metallic paint, alloy wheels, and an improved interior cabin. The old Niva name has been dropped after the 2014 model year and now the car is called the Lada 4×4. The new Lada 4×4 40th Anniversary Edition is going to be limited to 1977 examples, some getting a factory-applied camouflage paint, black enamel for the metallic surfaces of the bumpers, with black accents for the alloys as well. Inside there are red-orange accents inside the instrument cluster, along with an “eco-leather” steering wheel, and stainless steel sills.