The Russian automaker is planning a return to the Canadian market in 2019, seeing the growing popularity of affordable minicars such as the Nissan Micra, the Chevrolet Spark and the Mitsubishi Mirage.
Absent from the Canadian landscape since 1998, Lada has modernised itself over time and now offers up-to-date products. Or relatively up to date. Now under control of the Renault-Nissan Alliance with a stake of 50.01%, Lada-AvtoVaz is still the largest automobile manufacturer in Russia, and is now preparing to expand its worldwide presence.
Its current lineup of vehicles includes the Lada Granta subcompact, available in sedan and five-door hatchback body styles. Under the hood, there’s a 16-valve, 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine, with electronic fuel injection, that produces up to 118 horsepower. In addition, the Granta Sport is a performance-oriented version. According to the manufacturer’s website, “the world of Granta Sport is full of drive, speed, negation of clichés.”
There’s also the Lada Kalina, also a subcompact, available in five-door hatchback and station wagon configurations, which use the same powertrain as the Granta. Aside from the more dynamic Kalina Sport, the brand sells the Kalina Cross, a high-riding version of the wagon with plastic wheel arches, roof rails and all-terrain tires. “The geometric off-road drive for Kalina Cross matches other serious off-road vehicles!”
The Lada Priora subcompact sedan is also equipped with a 1.6-litre engine, this one developing as much as 106 hp. Its combined city/highway fuel economy is rated at a low 6.9 L/100 km. “The rear bumper of the Lada Priora became more stylish and functional. Its lower part, which gets muddy and dented fast, is pulp colored black, and its upper part is still the color of the cabin.”
The Lada Vesta compact sedan is one of the newer models in the company’s lineup. Its 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine is the base powerplant, but a 1.8-litre mill with 122 hp equips more upscale versions. Automatic transmission, infotainment system with seven-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth connectivity, USB port, backup camera, front and side-impact airbags—the Vesta is fully loaded. Amongst the winter-friendly characteristics of the Vesta, we find frost-proof door locks and an effective heating system, while “snow does not get into the car while opening the door.”
The Lada XRAY, a trendy urban crossover, boasts a 122-hp, 1.8-litre four-cylinder and an automatic transmission, the same ones found in the Vesta. With a combined fuel economy rating of 6.8 L/100 km, the XRAY is very efficient. Amongst available features are heated front seats, a heated windshield and rain-sensing wipers, perfect for Canadian winters. By the way, according the brand’s website, the automatic transmission was “designed for Russia, that is why its performance is not affected by outside temperature. It has full functionality of manual gearbox, including engine braking and possibility to get out of snowbank by ‘pitching’.”
The Lada Largus is the family-oriented model. Its long wheelbase of 2905 mm provides space for five or seven passengers, according to the interior configuration chosen. To motivate this 1370-kg vehicle, there’s an 87-hp, 8-valve 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine, or a 16-valve version with 102 hp. The Largus looks “very friendly,” yet adds a touch of ruggedness with its exposed tow hooks. According to the automaker, “some vehicles are made to beat speed records, others to impress everyone with their brilliant design. Largus was created for real life. It can drive the road that a sport car cannot.”
And then there’s the iconic Lada Niva, the Mercedes-Benz G-Class of Russia. Available with three or five doors, the Niva 4X4 is still equipped with a 1.7-litre four-cylinder engine, now using multipoint injection to produce 83 hp. A real off-road champ, the Niva continues to please with its solid construction and the simplicity of its mechanical components. “The Niva 4X4 is a legendary vehicle which cannot live with strong emotions. It stormed the North Pole and Everest, participated in rally Paris-Dakar, domesticated the Antarctic.”
During an interview for the Russian media, Lada CEO Vladimir Aprilfirstov announced that the automaker was planning to invade the North-American market in 2019, starting with Canada and particularly Quebec. “Who doesn’t remember Lada in Canada? No one, even after all these years. It’s a market that loves small, affordable cars, and it’s now time to get back into the hearts of Canadians.”
For now, a sales and service network hasn’t yet been confirmed. However, two options are open to Lada, either to share showroom floor space in Nissan dealerships, or in Mitsubishi dealers, now that the Renault-Nissan Alliance is a 34% shareholder.
A story we shall follow.