1996 Lada Riva 1500e 1.5 petrol from UK and Ireland


Just awful. Don't do it


Clutch wore out prematurely (look at the mileage!)

Steering column detached itself from the bulkhead - bolts had sheared.

Poor idling and performance.

Excessive corrosion.

General Comments:

Bought as a stop gap when I needed cheap wheels, this was a mistake. They are exactly as bad as everyone said.

Performance is very poor for a 1.5 engine, fuel economy pretty heavy too. It doesn't handle, the steering is very heavy, gearbox baulks all the time, the brakes are either on or off and lock up at the slightest provocation. Over 60 mph it's very hard to keep it in a straight line, due to the inbuilt slack in the steering. I took it to a garage to have the steering mechanism looked at, but apparently it was in perfect condition - they are all like that.

It was comfortable enough to sit in apart from the pedals and wheel offset to the centre of the car, and although mine never left me stranded, I really couldn't recommend this car to anyone. Fit and finish very poor, as for corrosion protection, these were already rusting on the boat over from the USSR.

When new they were the cheapest new car in the UK, selling for £3995, thanks to huge subsidies from the USSR govt to raise some foreign currency, I reckon even that was asking a bit much. A truly awful car.

I cannot believe the factory in Toggliatti is STILL making these! Rather than buying a new one you'd be better off getting a 10 year old Mondeo. Seriously.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 30th May, 2009

30th May 2009, 11:19

I didn't know that Russia exported any cars.

12th Nov 2013, 19:55

Within Europe, they did indeed, to raise much needed foreign currency. The Lada was introduced to the UK in 1974, and aside from different lights and detail changes, remained on sale unchanged until 1996 when new European emission laws rendered it unsaleable in the west.

I believe they shipped loads of them to Cuba as well.

As cheap and basic transport, they are sort of OK if it's your only option, but they were cheap for a very good reason.

Most of the UK Ladas ended up being exported back to Russia, as they were worth a lot over there.

10th Sep 2014, 15:49

The problem is the critic here is expecting an awful lot from an 8 year old car that was the cheapest on the market when new, and which had the best bits of the original (1960s!!) technology like engines and suspension removed and replaced with heavy duty Russian stuff, designed to cope with awful conditions and to be fixed with the most basic tools.

He's not wrong that a 10 year old Mondeo would have been a better bet than an 8 year old Riva, as it would have cost 3 times as much in the first place.


I don't have one, never had, and wouldn't want one myself - I just would prefer people bring a bit of common sense to these forums sometimes.