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Moscow show: New Chevrolet Niva laid bare

Out from the cold: The near-production concept modernises the Niva but is said to retain the compact 4WD wagon’s legendary off-road ability.

Chevrolet uncovers near-final Niva light SUV with strong Australian development ties

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Chevrolet logo28 Aug 2014

CHEVROLET has lifted the covers off its near-production Niva concept at the Moscow motor show, presenting a rugged compact off-roader that was fabricated in Australia and sculpted by former Holden designer Ondrej Koromhaz.

As GoAuto reported exclusively ahead of the show, General Motors turned to the fabrication team at Holden’s Port Melbourne design centre – one of only two such facilities in the GM world – to build the vehicle, which is dubbed a “next generation concept”.

The redesigned model is set to enter production in Russia in the first half of 2016 under GM’s joint venture with AvtoVAZ, the company behind the Lada brand and the classic Niva that has been conquering difficult terrain around the world, including Australia during the 1980s and ’90s, for almost four decades.

GM has had a hand in Niva’s production since 2002, and the new version will be a truly international effort, with design and engineering input from around the world.

Perhaps best known for sculpting the current Holden Barina and Chevrolet Sonic/Aveo, Czech-born Mr Koromhaz rose to prominence with his work on the 2004 Torana TT36 concept and the previous VE Commodore and is currently based at the GM International Operations design centre in Shanghai, China.

He was the lead designer for both the exterior and interior of the Niva concept, while GM says that Italian design house Blue Group Engineering and Design “provided support throughout the engineering and development process”.

GM-AvtoVAZ’s Russian engineering team was also involved to ensure the new-generation Niva was not a typical road-oriented SUV but would “fit 100 per cent to Russia’s rough climate and road conditions”.

Full specifications, including the platform underpinning the new Niva, are still to be divulged, but GM says the next-generation concept pays tribute to the “true off-road character of the Chevrolet Niva” with its high ground clearance, large 16-inch wheels and 235/70 BF Goodrich Mud-Terrain T/A tyres, underbody skidplate, winch, snorkel, roofrack with spare wheel (adding to the tailgate-mounted spare) and a row of four spotlights.

A 1.8-litre petrol engine is used, offering 30 per cent more torque than the current 1.7-litre four-cylinder, and combines with a five-speed manual gearbox and full-time four-wheel-drive system with low-range gearing and a differential lock.

Official figures show that today’s Euro 4-compliant 58kW/127Nm 1.7-litre unit takes as much as 19 seconds to reach 100km/h from standstill and has a top speed of 140km/h. The 10.8L/100km combined-cycle fuel economy is also well behind modern standards for such a compact model.

Similarly, the interior design takes the Niva up to a higher standard, with GM pointing to features such as power mirrors and door locks, “modern safety systems” and fully integrated infotainment. The concept also features gauges for compass, outside temperature and inclinometer.

The current Niva rests on a 2450mm wheelbase and measures 4056mm long, 1800mm wide and 1690mm high.

The concept is understood to be slightly bigger, though it remains in the light-sized SUV class in which the Holden/Chevrolet Trax – built on GM’s Gamma II platform – currently competes.

“With the ‘Next Generation Chevrolet Niva’, GM-AvtoVAZ joint venture will offer customers new possibilities thanks to innovation, improved quality and progressive design,” said GM-AvtoVAZ managing director Jeffrey Glover.

“Even though this concept demonstrates a more aggressive stance, visitors to MIAS will immediately recognise the practicality and functionality of the design.

“The final street vehicle, which comes to market in just under two years, will also have a level of refinement and versatility to make it every bit as welcome in urban environments and big cities.

“This will be a truly all-in-one car that is designed to be practical in day-to-day-life, yet provides drivers off-road capabilities to allow an escape to realise their passions and hobbies far beyond city borders,” he said.

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