We've seen the tactic plenty of times before: an automaker that wants to up its game, so it hires a designer from a brand it seeks to emulate, then releases concepts that make people go "Ooh la la." Lada is the latest, having hired Steve Mattin to be its design head. Mattin is coming off tenures as senior designer at Mercedes-Benz and chief designer at Volvo before emigrating to the Russian side of life (although the company's design bureau is in Milan, Italy).

The new Lada he wants to introduce us to is led by an X-shaped front fascia on the Xray concept just unveiled at the Moscow Motor Show. The frontal treatment is to be the signature face for Lada's coming production models, but the Buck Rogers cockpit probably won't make it to the assembly line.

Lada is obviously proud of its creation, having unleashed a giant gallery of photos taken from just about every possible angle. If they can keep this up and translate it to their production vehicles, well, the Volga might go back to just being a river and not also a punchline.

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