1988 Lada Niva 1.6 petrol


A good car on the cheap, good if you have some mechanical know how


Motor packed up, due to mistreatment I'll be honest.

Front diff came loose, also due to mistreatment.

Drivers seat back broke, had to be held up with something.

Window wipers gave up.

Indicators stopped working (only a solder had come off, easy to fix)

General Comments:

A very good, go anywhere car. Better off road ability than the much hyped Suzuki Sierra.

The simple design makes repairs easy. The cars use a Fiat engine and gearbox.

Constant 4x4 can make the cars a little difficult to steer, and with the front drive shaft removed, they go faster and handle better.

I had a lot of fun with this car, perhaps too much at times, as I buggered up the engine. But hey, it's not like the cars cost much :)

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 7th July, 2006

1997 Lada Niva Bushman 1.7 petrol


The best S.U.V. in the world at the price


Front upper and lower ball joints showed wear and needed replacing.

Outer rubber boots on front wheels split and replaced.

Taillight bulbs checked as some were not working.

Steering was a little bit loose and was easily corrected by adjusting the relevant nut as indicated in the manual.

Soundproofing the transmission tunnel, inside, eliminates noise.

General Comments:

The Niva is, without doubt, the most honest and reliable four wheel drive vehicle in the small to medium class.

It will literally go anywhere, where others will bog down and fail.

Reliability is an outstanding feature of this Russian car. The strength and ruggedness it displays, is truly remarkable. The thickness of the metal body panels is almost twice that of any other car. The suspension is robust and designed for longevity.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 28th July, 2005

15th Sep 2005, 10:43

The Niva is certainly a strong and reliable off-roader and is ideally suited to Australian conditions. In Australia, the most popular car is the Holden, which is produced by General Motors. In Russia, General Motors combined with the giant Avto-Vaz Company, in a joint venture, to produce the new 'Chevy Niva'- which I believe has been a great success. I wonder whether G.M. has considered importing the new Niva to Australia under the G.M. banner and marketing it through its vast network of dealers? The Chevy Niva, I believe, would be a winner for G.M. here in Australia, as it would provide them with an excellent product to take on established rivals such as Suzuki Vitara, Toyota RAV-4, Kia Sportage etc. The Chevy Niva has a very modern design, and with the G.M. inspired 2 Litre fuel injected motor, the true four-wheel drive system, and the proven reliability of the vehicle, it will certainly shake up the market here in Australia! I, and many others, would love to see the new Niva out here in the not to distant future!

1987 Lada Niva 1.6 Unleaded


0 to 100 in 60 seconds


Master brake cylinder

Front driver side calipers

Oil Leaks (not much, but probably the gasket)

Electronics not that great

Starter motor

Some rust repairs in the lower front panels and various other places

Bent parts of the suspension system, front and back.

Cracked diff housing.

General Comments:

Most problem have been my own fault either through lack of care or going too hard while off road (). I am still absolutely amazed at it's resilience. I haven't been very easy on this car as I only paid AU$1600 for it, but the amount of fun I've had in it versus how much I've spent on it.. well.. I think I'm breaking even :)

The niva is built like a tractor and could probably be used as one if needed. It has amazing torque. It's OK on the highway, I can do the speed limit most of the time. Up hill at 100kph is a bit of a fantasy though.

This car has been through a lot in it's life, the previous owner had taken it though the desert and made some mods to accommodate for this, such as dual tanks and air-con.

Extremely strong for it's size. No matter how badly I've damaged this car it has never failed to get me home. Some cars limp for an hour or so, but the niva seems to limp for weeks. I've towed several people out of trouble with it. Once while it was limping.

When the starter motor died I used the crank for a couple of weeks until I could book it in to get fixed.

This car isn't for somebody who knows nothing about cars and has never changed a tire. I would say that while i've owned it i've treated it like a project and have constantly made fixes and upgrades to it. I've had much fun.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 7th September, 2004

1st Apr 2005, 02:35

The previous owner wasn't a Russian automotive journalist by any chance? Our mag took 3 Niva's through the Sahara to Timbuktu in '88, I think... White Niva's, but I don't remember whether they had air-con or not...