1997 Lada Niva GL 1.6 carburettor petrol from Australia and New Zealand


A fully enclosed farm tractor with radio


The rear bench seat would unlock and fold forward if I braked too hard.

The car would smell strongly of petrol when entering the car.

The "fuel empty" light would light up when turning a corner.

The headlights would flood with water when crossing rivers.

General Comments:

The Lada Niva was a mountain goat off road. It's good ground clearance and attack/departure angles meant it could handle very rough ground easily.

On road comfort left a lot to be desired. The original off road tyres were extremely noisy at any speed over 20km/h.

Acceleration was below par when compared to most cars built in the 1990's.

This car may be OK for a second car purely for off-roading, but don't purchase it as a family car, as the rear seat issue would be a death trap for children even in a minor accident.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 27th June, 2003

16th Oct 2003, 04:26

A very accurate description of the Niva. Exactly the same experiences as I've had with mine.. But a great car for the money.. Thousands of dollars cheaper then any other "real" 4WD.

19th Mar 2004, 08:29

A very cheap 4WD, and a good off road car. That's the whole idea.

27th Jan 2005, 04:03

I had a Niva when my kids were teenagers. I never had a problem with the back seat, but the anchorages for the front seats were a bit flimsy. Yes, my headlights filled with water too.

I bought it for its off-road ability and I was constantly impressed. The low gearing, long suspension, large tyres and small overhangs were amazing in the rough stuff.

Its lack of power steering was a pain at parking speeds on the road, but I had two sets of wheels which worked well. I used the standard wheels and tyres for weekends away and wider wheels with street tyres during the week. With the wide rims it handled well on the road for a 4WD.

I look back on it as the most fun I ever had in a car despite its poor build quality when compared with Japanese offerings. I guess I appreciated the driving experience so much I put up with the build quality.