If you happen to have a soft spot for ugly, inexpensive four-wheel-drive machines that can outperform substantially newer and more expensive vehicles, don't watch the video after the jump.

If you choose not to heed our guidance, you may just find yourself desperately searching for a way to get your hands on a Lada Niva. Fifth Gear recently undertook a unique challenge. While the Niva hasn't been sold new in the UK for years, specialty importers can still slide one your way for a small fee and a smile. The whole kit will set buyers back around £11,000, or about $17,000 at current conversion rates.

That makes the Niva the cheapest four-wheel drive on the UK market right now. But is it worth it? Fifth Gear took to the network of unpaved roads that envelope the UK countryside in a bid to crawl their way across the island by spending as little time as possible on paved roads. How did the plucky little Soviet-era machine do? Hit the jump to find out. Just remember: we warned you.



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 28 Comments
      poorcruzerhammer
      • 3 Years Ago
      Okay, Okay I do have a soft spot for bulletproof 4X4's. As an owner of two Landcruisers, BJ42, a BJ60 and a 2003 Chevy Tracker LT I love their simplicity; the Tracker being the most complex one of them all. The Niva is like the Ural of SUV's, tough, cheap and easily fixed with a crescent wrench and a Phillips screwdriver. It's nothing to look at or drive but it will get you there.
        starryknight936
        • 3 Years Ago
        @poorcruzerhammer
        I agree with you. I'd go with this seemingly bulletproof 4X4 myself. Love its simplicity! Peace!<-AladdinSane-
      syslik
      • 3 Years Ago
      Just found one for sale on eBay in Portland OR.
      pigsbladder
      • 3 Years Ago
      used to go on holiday to Robin Hoods Bay. They drove right past the house I stayed in at 5:42. Good memories.
      WillieD
      • 3 Years Ago
      I wish we had the option to travel cross country here in the U.S. on dirt roads. It would be so much fun.
      husyk49486
      • 3 Years Ago
      Full episode here: last week was episode 9 BTW. Fifth Gear - [20x02] - 2011.10.21 -Vicky drives the Boss Mustang 302. -The new Mercedes SLK undergoes team review. -Jonny drives coast to coast in a Lada Niva. -BMW 1M vs Audi RS3. http://www.streetfire.net/video/fifth-gear-20x02-20111021_2329133.htm
      Hazdaz
      • 3 Years Ago
      So what AB considers "research" is simply jumping over to Jalopnik and reposting what they posted a couple of days later?? This isn't even a brand new episode if I am not mistaken, its a few months old (if not older), so its not like you guys are posting up brand new news. Good video, but geez, find some new content besides what other sites already posted.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Hazdaz
        [blocked]
      starryknight936
      • 3 Years Ago
      I like this machine, believe it or not. If only the Russians made this available here in the States. Give it a small options list: perhaps an audio system, AC, sunroof, etc, would make this "brick" more consumer friendly here. I would gladly go aftermarket, to pimp it out, so to speak. This is the type of vehicle one can have fun in, I believe. Happy Holidays... Peace!<-AladdinSane-
        lemonite
        • 3 Years Ago
        @starryknight936
        Airbags would be nice too.
        KDAWG
        • 3 Years Ago
        @starryknight936
        It was available in Canadia for a while, and it is possible to import an older example, if you can find one.
      Ryan
      • 3 Years Ago
      Haha, that's awesome. I'd rock it, but then again here in the good ol' USofA we also have the Jeep Wrangler, which is a bit more friendly on the road versus the Lada, plus it has a radio and doesn't look like it just came out of the 1970s. Still, I'd have to buy a used Wrangler for the price of a brand new Niva.
      A3TDI
      • 3 Years Ago
      One was in the company fleet I worked at in Moscow 20 yrs ago. Looks pretty much the same. It is a PoS, but it was the best lada product and I had a lot of good times in it. It wasn't bad off-road - as he says, the light weight pays off. f It's like the VW Golf of 4x4, most others can beat it, but it's still a lot of fun. I have a worked up TJ now which is better every which way than the Niva, but there is something endearing about it. I'm glad they still make them.
        KDAWG
        • 3 Years Ago
        @A3TDI
        For what it's worth stock TJs (except for the Rubie) don't have locking diffs, which are arguably the greatest asset for 4 wheeling after decent ground clearance and tires.
      brgtlm
      • 3 Years Ago
      The terrain did not seem that challenging. I think a capable CUV would be able to that terrain. Useless.
      miketim1
      • 3 Years Ago
      I wished I had a little car like this I could trash around and have fun with.. sigh
      sulandus
      • 3 Years Ago
      Owned one of these - great for hunting and fishing (snow roads up to the chest) ... Road driving is the most horrific experience though.
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