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i have had the joy of being in the company of these nivas, and i must say they are a load of fun! originally was bought (from new no less ) by chance when we had a test drive for a laugh. how it got past EU crash saftey laws i dont know, but it dosent really matter. off roading, this thing keeps up with even the land rovers with a high wheelbase and stable driving. it also has "Diff Lock" to help get out of the trickiest places. It affords the diver a nice driving postion i found, and if , worse case scenario, you do have a crash, dont worry. When i was involved in a head on crash at approx 30mph, the incoming car (MK3 ford escort) clipped the nearside bumper. Damadge to escort: Smashed front quarterpanel, front door, rear door (all nearside) front bumper.
Damadge to Lada:: small plastic bumper corner cover taken off. repaired by fixing in place with screws.
as you can see, these things are built like tanks! also good at fording, we had to ford a road where the water was up to the foglights, but she still kept going (even though water was coming in through the hole for the handbrake.
all in all, a great car. if you want a car to throw about off road, it cant get better than this.