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Lada Samara (1987 - 1997)

BARGAIN BLOC BUYING (some text hidden)

BY JONATHAN CROUCH

Introductionword count: 113

Forget the jokes; Lada Samaras are seriously cheap, if, admittedly, not overly cheerful. They were imported here between 1987 and 1997 and throughout that period, improvements and developments were continuous at a time when so much else in Russia seemingly became worse. The Samara has never pretended to be anything other than inexpensive and pretty basic transport for people who don't care too much about impressing the neighbours. These cars are bought by people who want something that's cheap to own, built to last and not stuffed full of gimmicky luxuries like electric windows, central locking and power steering, not to mention airbags. Yesterday's technology then - usually reliable if a little basic.

Modelsword count: 2

Models Covered:

Historyword count: 176

The Samara hit the UK late in 1987 and imports ceased in 1997, following the company's inability to adapt the engines to strict new exhaust emission regulations. There was a plethora of models over the years but the basic design remained the same. It should be pointed out that the Samara bears no relation to long-obsolete Fiats, unlike many other former Eastern Bloc cars, including Lada's own Riva. When launched, it boasted a standard five-speed gearbox, a modern 1.3-litre engine and a front-wheel drive chassis with a three-door hatch bodyshell. The engine was then developed into two other versions - a 1.5 and a 1.1. The latter is really too small however, for the weight of the car. The five-door hatches and saloons came later and were available until the end in 1997 with both 1.1 and 1.3-litre engines, though the last cars were base and S trim levels. New Ladas are apparently being designed and built in the former USSR and there is a thriving trade in exporting old UK examples back to their homeland!

What You Getword count: 136

A luxury-liner it isn't, though all cars come with carpets, cloth upholstery and a rear wash/wipe. A powerful heater is far more important to motorists in Minsk than air conditioning or a CD autochanger, remember. So, it's a basic car, but all the essentials are there. Just don't expect to jump out of a small Japanese car and into a Samara without a moment of shock. Interiors and seat upholstery, in particular, are hard-wearing but so must their occupants' posteriors be. Lada rear seats are well known for their ruggedness (like their home-market drivers). Conversely, the front seats are generally far too soft! As for the rest of the interior, there's very little in the way of gadgetry to go wrong and the dash is functional with a capital F, if unremarkable for any other reason.

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Scoring (subset of scores)

Category: Compact Family Cars

Performance
20%
Handling
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Comfort
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Space
50%
Styling, Build, Value, Equipment, Depreciation, Handling, Insurance and Total scores are available with our full data feed.

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