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Moscow show: Lada unveils its XRAY vision

Welcome matte: The Lada XRAY’s brown colour scheme may turn a few stomachs but its matte finsh and striking looks will turn heads at the Moscow motor show.

Evoque-like XRAY SUV concept proves Russian brand Lada has sights on bright future


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31 Aug 2012

LADA sought to silence car industry comedians with its striking XRAY SUV concept at this week’s Moscow motor show, debuting a bold new design direction for the oft-ridiculed Russian brand.

The XRAY also serves to communicate the newfound confidence of Lada parent company AvtoVaz to forge its own path as within the Renault-Nissan Alliance, which is working toward taking a controlling interest in its Russian subsidiary by 2014.

The XRAY is the creation of British-born Lada chief designer Steve Mattin, who last October moved to the Russian firm from Volvo, where he oversaw the design of the S60 sedan and XC60 SUV.

Before Volvo, Mr Mattin worked for 17 years at Mercedes-Benz, where he was responsible for designing the original A-Class hatchback, and 2001 folding hard-top SL roadster.

Nissan vice president Andy Palmer today told GoAuto that AvtoVaz remained an autonomous entity within the Alliance but with a focus on becoming viable again after its rescue from the brink of collapse by the French-Japanese conglomerate in 2008.

He said AvtoVaz was not being told what to do, so if it wanted to expand exports into developed markets such as Australia with modern products like the XRAY, the Alliance would not stop it.

However, Mr Palmer said the Lada focus was on the growing Russian market, where Renault, Nissan and Lada want to raise their combined share – most of which is accounted for by Lada – from 30 per cent to 40 per cent.

According to reports in the Russian media, new-generation Lada products will start to emerge in 2015 – and any SUV based on the XRAY will be a huge step up from the agricultural Niva off-roader.

AvtoVaz will have access to Renault-Nissan technology but is no stranger to going it alone with concepts, having previously contracted Austrian firm Magna Steyr to develop underpinnings for the stillborn C hatchback concept unveiled at the 2007 Geneva show.

According to Russian publication Auto Review, the XRAY is purely a styling exercise, a full-scale model built around a steel frame chassis by the illustrious Vercarmodel studio in Turin.

Vercarmodel is a prolific producer of high-profile motor show-stoppers with a back catalogue including the five concepts unveiled by Lotus at the 2010 Paris show, the Alfa Romeo 4C, Toyota FT-86, Porsche 918 and Kia GT.

The two-door XRAY, features a Range Rover Evoque-like coupe body shape and an X-shaped grille tipped by the headlights and fog lights – a design feature said to preview the face of all future Lada products.

That grille shape gives the XRAY the first letter of its title – also said to indicate its crossover vehicle type – while the rest stands for recreation, activity and youth.

It is 130mm shorter than a Nissan Dualis at around 4200mm long, with a Dualis-like 2600mm wheelbase.

Lada chose to retain the brown exterior colour scheme it used with the Subaru XV-like C-Cross concept displayed at Moscow in 2008, but the XRAY has a matte finish.

Naturally for a concept it rides on huge two-tone alloy wheels but rather than the usual ultra-low profile tyres that usually adorning show cars, its wheel arches are filled by realistically chunky rubber suitable for rough roads.

The XRAY reportedly has steering and can move under its own power, but its electric motor – supplied by old-fashioned lead-acid batteries – provides a top speed of just 8km/h and enough range to drive on to the Moscow show stand for its reveal.

Compared with the smoky-windowed C-Cross concept, the XRAY lives up to the connotation of its name as it is possible to see inside.

Peering through the windows reveals a luxurious, leather-lined, two-tone beige and brown cabin with Audi-style pop-up infotainment display and rotary controller.

Lada also used the Moscow show to debut its El Lada electric vehicle with 150km range and 130km/h top speed.

Based on the Kalina hatchback, the EV will initially be used as taxis in some parts of Russia.

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