I continue my story about the legends of the domestic auto industry. Next in line is Niva. By the way, there are now two of them: Legend (the same classic) and the “new Niva” Travel (which was previously Chevrolet). Yes, when the name “Niva” went to the Americans, the long history ended, and the name returned under the wing of the Togliatti brand. Niva Travel is the hero of this review and, in fact, a restyling of the previous version. What is new here and what is Lada ready to offer to those who like to mix dirt – read below.
Mileage during the test drive was 450 km;
- 1.7-liter engine, gasoline, 80 hp s., 127 Nm;
- 5-speed manual gearbox;
- permanent four-wheel drive;
- the average consumption during the test drive is 14.2 liters per 100 km.
I definitely like the new Niva externally, and I’ll even say more, we are talking about the Off-road version. “Civil” … it is simpler, but “traveler” is more interesting. Yes, there are no absolutely breathtaking lines, an adjustable suspension, but it is brutal in a good way and has become neater. Strongly knocked down, I would even say. This is true for the front end as well as for the rear and side views. The headlights are now more proud, high-set, the taillights are lightly tinted and diode. The off-road version has an unpainted plastic, snorkel, and only green color. Lada calls it “Amazonia”.
Sufficiently strict lines of the body, coupled with an abundance of plastic, leave the impression of a car, ready, if not for everything, then for a lot. And considering the length of 4099 millimeters, it is also very compact, which is undoubtedly also a plus. And it’s not only about the convenience of parking but also about the corners of the exit in case of overcoming obstacles.
In general, I definitely praise Niva Travel for the appearance. And not even my favorite “military” color definitely suits her—time to go inside.
When I got to the salon for the first time, I even thought it was a different car. There is a completely different style of interior lines (from the previous version), rounded and wavy features prevail. There is definitely a dissonance. Looking ahead, I will say that the salon as a whole turned out to be convenient and practical from the point of view of use. The second is especially important, considering that the car is for outdoor activities. Roughly speaking, it will not be so corny to be scratched by any tourist utensils.
I definitely want to scold the interior decoration. It is for the lack of space for a smartphone, shallow door maps, and a very boring visual steering wheel. But I can’t help but tell you about the rest. The tidy is similar in style to modern Lada cars, although it does not really fit into the Niva. The driver’s scattering of buttons is logical and easily accessible in the presence of heated seats (the buttons are the same as those of the UAZ), electric mirrors, air conditioning, and even an electric heated windshield. In general, it will be comfortable both in the heat and in the cold. The interior, however, is all black (including the ceiling), so it will definitely be good to bask in the heat.
What else? Reversible armrest. When folded back, it becomes a glass holder for the rear passengers.
The multimedia system is also worth mentioning. It was cleverly inscribed in the center, and in general, it does not look alien. The control unit, on the other hand, is located at the bottom of the dashboard. There is an important point, which I was warned about before the test, the multimedia is turned on and off only manually. That is, you can forget to turn it off in the evening, leaving the car, and get the battery planted in the morning. Looking forward to a car update?
Although it is equipped with all the basic functions (even navigation from Navitel), the multimedia itself is visually very outdated. I want a more modern interface. But, again, for such a utilitarian car, this is not so important. The main thing is that everything works. That’s just CarPlay, Android Auto, and Yandex is missing here. I suppose the smartphone in this car will be attached to the holder and show your favorite navigation system. And Lada, which not so long ago updated the multimedia for some of its cars, will get to the Niva. It definitely deserves it.
I’ll move back. Formally, there are three seats, and three of us can sit, but it is better not to take more than two seats for long trips. And behind the tall man, the front is a bit cramped. But the ceiling is high! And also manual window opening and there is no lamp for the second row. So it goes.
In the end, about the trunk. It’s not that big, 320 liters and 650 with the second-row seats folded. I can scold you because the upper trunk lid is not fixed in any way and constantly strives to fall on your head when you lift it. I would also like to add hooks for securing luggage.
Salon impressions? If you do not find fault with the visual component (and it seems to me that the target audience of Niva is not so confused with the design of interfaces and various elements), then everything here corresponds to the task – to travel and not worry about integrity. The equipment is good. The main modern technical features are present: air conditioning, heated seats, Bluetooth, and a pair of USB connectors. Utility with the necessary comfort.
Why is this Niva the same inside? A bit of history
Niva Travel has a long and rather thorny fate. Initially, work on the VAZ 2123 project to replace the classic Niva began in the early 1980s at the Scientific and Technical Center (Scientific and Technical Center). There were disputes regarding the technical equipment of the future model. There were ideas to place the engine transversely, by analogy with the VAZ 2108, or to use a chain drive in a transfer case. But in the end, the main advantage of the classic Niva – permanent all-wheel drive with an interaxle differential – migrated to the new model without changes.
The development of options for appearance was also carried out. The final look of the five-door SUV was found by Syomushkin already by 1993, but the first pre-production samples of the new Niva were made only by 1999. It’s all about the lack of resources to create and master the new model after the turmoil of the 1990s. As a result, the VAZ 2123 was not destined to see the light of day with a Rook on the hood. General Motors became interested in the novelty, and in 2001 a joint venture was created, within which the SUV began to be produced under the name Chevrolet Niva.
The tested car is the result of a new loop of fate. In 2019, AvtoVAZ bought out the joint venture, regained the Niva brand and its prodigal child – VAZ 2123. And less than a year later, the updated Niva Travel was presented.
On the road! Experience of use
After turning the key, there is a pleasant vibration throughout the body. A kind of sign of an honest and simple machine. And this is not a reproach. The driver’s seat is adjustable in height and even has lumbar support, excellent. The steering wheel can only be adjusted in height. Sitting comfortably is not difficult. But here is the mechanics, which means you have to work a lot with your hands and feet.
The Niva, surprisingly, has very pleasant steering, thanks to the permanent all-wheel drive. And although power steering is available, the steering wheel itself is pleasantly heavy and completely non-empty—definitely a plus. And there are no inconveniences when parking. By the way, there are rear parking sensors and a rearview camera. It turns on even if the multimedia system is turned off.
But the dynamics are not about the Niva. She loves a measured ride, and a comfortable speed is within 110 km / h, to which a leisurely acceleration awaits you. She also lacks 6th gear to make it quieter in the cabin on the highway and save more gasoline. So all your racing habits are best left outside the door. And it’s for the best. The car is not about that.
About the silence. Although the car is straightforward, I cannot say that the general noise in the Niva greatly interferes. Yes, you will need to talk louder at speed, but overall the sound insulation is good. There is also one nuance here that affects the acoustic comfort: the wind blower is marked at four speeds, and from the first one, it is quite audible.
But the main thing is how good it is where there is no asphalt! This is where the joy of owning and driving such an apparatus begins. There are no “evil” tires in the database, but even with them, the Niva coped well with the primer soaked after the rain. And only in one place, on a strong rise, did I have to turn on a downshift. At the same time, there were three people and filming equipment in the salon.
I hope we’ll see you again. Feedback
Every day, seeing Lada Niva at home, I really wanted to jump inside and go to hard-to-reach places and travel. And it seems to me that this is the key characteristic according to the results of the test.
Yes, it is simple. Yes, the salon definitely lacks style. But at the same time, it provides the necessary and, one might say, already a standard comfort level. I want to equip it with an expeditionary trunk, collect things and friends, and go on a long journey and not deny myself (almost) anything.
The main thing is to buy rubber mats!
- calls to travel;
- nice to go;
- looks great from the outside;
- there is a basic set for a comfortable “life” on board.
- I want a salon for the style of appearance;
- not the roomiest trunk.