James May drives the new Lada Niva
The Soviet workhorse is back from the dead. We send a nice chap called May to drive it
Posted: 22 Feb 2011
Here's an interesting thing. Recently, Mark, the importer, took his Niva to a driving day organised by a specialist magazine called something like Off-Road [a very rude word] and, despite initial scepticism, it humbled bigger and more elaborate stuff.
This doesn't entirely surprise me. It's light, for a start, at 1,210kg, which is over half a ton lighter than the most basic Defender 90. The tyres - Lada's own, branded Niva and doubtless highly specialised and expensive - are narrow and high in profile. We know, from experience with things like the Suzuki Jimny and my Samurai from the Bolivian special, that this makes sense, and that big and heavy off-roaders quickly suffer from some law of diminishing capability as more technology leads to more weight and then more systems to deal with it.