2021 Lada Niva Looks Like A Discounted Toyota RAV4

Leaked photos of the newly redesigned Lada Niva off-roader shows an almost Toyota-esque exterior aesthetic. 

News just in from Russia that the Lada Niva has undergone a massive redesign, and the leaked pre-production photos of this facelifted Russian SUV shows that the designers may have taken more than a couple leaves out of the Toyota design handbook. 

Before anything, it is probably worth noting that this is not actually a replacement for the iconic Lada Niva that most will probably have heard of. That one is still currently being produced by the Russian automaker today, under the Lada 4×4 moniker. Instead, this new Niva is actually the replacement for the Lada Niva II, which also known for the vast majority of the time as the Chevrolet Niva till very recently. 

To those not up to date with their Russian motoring history, the Chevrolet Niva was in essence a parts-bin GM SUV that began production in 1999. A joint venture between Lada and General Motors, this 5-door compact SUV went through various mild redesigns (including one done by Bertone) and various name changes over the last 21 years of its life. 

With Lada buying out GM’s stake in the joint venture back in July of this year however, it appears to be the case for the Russian automaker to radically redesign this newly renamed Lada Niva, to perhaps better fit the new Lada badge up front. Which therefore leaves us what we see here today. 

Looking at these leaked photos here, it is clear that this new for 2021 Niva borrows many of its styling cues off the latest Toyota RAV4. Especially from the front, this Russian SUV’s wide grille and butch headlight clusters are uncannily similar to those seen on the latest iteration of the Japanese crossover. 

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Seen here painted in this particular shade of green with the oversized exterior black plastic mouldings however, the redesigned Niva actually looks reminiscent to the yet another obscure SUV — the Renault Scenic 4×4. When looking at it from the back, with its rectangular tail light clusters, chunky rear bumper and the exposed spare wheel mounted on the tailgate, hints of the Renault crossover come through from this rugged Russian off-roader.

Speaking off ruggedness, coming complete with a snorkel and what looks like more off-road biased tires that are wrapped around those smoked alloy wheels, these particular Ladas are perhaps to be the off-road ready version of the Russian SUV.

As for the rest of this redesigned Niva, according to those in the know, it is apparently still very much to be based on the same 20 year old box of bits from its GM joint venture days. Soldiering on with the same chassis and the same 1.7 litre fuel-injected Ecotec four-cylinder engine, which is rated at a paltry 79 hp and 125 Nm of torque. 

There has been also no word thus far on what the interior will be like in this redesigned Niva. Though whatever it may be, it is reasonable to expect the cabin to be a rugged and utilitarian affair, with only the bare minimum of features included. Such is the case for an SUV that is estimated to cost from only €7,890 (RM 40,000), with the aforementioned off-road version supposedly costing €8,880 (RM 44,000)

So to those who have aspired to own a new Toyota RAV-4 but never could quite afford one, perhaps this Russian alternative could be right up your street. To those looking a cheap, no-nonsense, rugged off-roader however, there are actually quite a lot of choice out there on the market today such as the Dacia Duster, the Suzuki Jimny, the Mahindra Thar or even the OG Lada Niva for that matter. 

Joshua Chin

Automotive journalist. Professional work on and Personal writing found at Instagram: @driveeveryday

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