The Lada Granta Sport is a 1990s throwback

Some elements of the 1990s have aged well. Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit, for example. Or The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Britpop is maturing rather nicely, too.

Others are best left in the 90s. Madonna’s cone bra; ‘The Rachel’ haircut; the Spice Girls – file them in the archives and bolt the door. Before setting fire to the closet.

This is the Lada Granta Sport. It wasn’t built in the 1990s – it’s very much a product of the new millennium. But trawl through the specification sheet and check out the photos and you’ll discover the Lada is as 90s as a Baywatch red bikini.

Take the styling. The Lada Granta Sport manages to make the compact saloon look vaguely alluring. Could this be the first genuinely appealing sporting Shatchback since the Renault 19 16v Chamade? Dare we suggest it’s like some kind of Eastern Bloc Impreza?

Lada Granta Sport rear

It gets better. The figures on the spec sheet would have warmed the hearts of young petrolheads in the early to mid 90s. A 1.6-litre 16v engine developing a 90s-tastic 118 hp, enough to propel this hunk of Eastern promise to 62 mph in 9. 5 seconds. Top speed: 122 mph.

To kids who have grown up on a diet of 200 hp+ hot hatches and turbocharged performance saloons, the Lada Granta Sport will sound a bit Limp Bizkit. But to PetrolBlog, it’s all a bit Dope.

Put it this way: you just know it will be terrific fun extracting every last horsepower as you wind your way along a B-road like the Moskva weaving its way through Moscow. Pure and useable fun, none of this only-fully-exploitable-on-a-track nonsense.

Write this off as a one tricky pony at your peril. Lada has splashed the rubles to create the world’s greatest performance Russian Shatchback. Upgraded brakes, stiffer suspension, improved steering and what appear to be delightfully aftermarket alloy wheels create the effect.

That said, the single exhaust pipe looks a bit naff considering the rear bumper allows room for two. At least pop down to Halfski and pick up a job lot of chrome exhaust trim for the opposite side. Maybe fit a Goodmans CD player at the same time…

Lada Granta Sport interior

Lada has managed to make the interior look vaguely inviting, with red stitching, sports seats and Granta Sport detailing helping to lift the gloom, whilst delivering the look of a lukewarm hatch from the 90s. There’s even a touchscreen infotainment system – in a Lada! Changing times…

And the price for all this Russian goodness? The small matter of 541,000 rubles, or £6,425. Yup, little more than the price of a Dacia Sandero Access. A 90s car for a 90s price – as Leslie Crowther might have said: come on down, the price is right.

But don’t take our word for it, because Lada has made some startling claims about the Granta Sport. For example:

“It is for those who are determined to succeed in life. The world of Granta Sport is full of drive, speed, negation of clichés. It is the world of a car that makes your life richer and brighter.”

You won’t read that in a Ford or Audi brochure any time soon. More’s the pity.

Lada Granta Sport seats

Amazingly, the Lada Granta Sport is available to buy in Germany, so we have visions of it hustling Porsche Panameras and Audi A8s in the outside lane of an autobahn, Scorpions cranked up to the max on the head unit.

It might sound like the name of an Irish sports broadcaster, but right now the Granta Sport is close to the top of PetrolBlog’s virtual shopping list. Sadly, some videos on YouTube show the Lada being out-dragged by all number of smaller-engined vehicles, so the signs aren’t great, but we sense the Granta is less about grunt and more about grins. Or something.

But if you happen to own a Lada Granta Sport, do get in touch. PetrolBlog is keen to discover the truth about this 90s throwback. Hot or not – Granta Sport owners, it’s over to you.

Lada Granta Sport UK

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ABOUT AUTHOR
Gavin Big-Surname
The chief waffler and founder of PetrolBlog in 2010. Has a rather unhealthy obsession with cars from the 80s and 90s, and is on a one-man mission to collect the cars nobody else wants. Also likes tea and Hobnobs.

5 comments

  1. July 13, 2016
    antonio

    I’ve drove a Lada Granta Sport a few years back! In Russia no less. And here is what I wrote at the time…

    A sporting Lada may sound like an oxymoron to some, but it’s finally become a reality. Launched in April of this year, the Lada Granta Sport is a sporting variant of the Russian manufacturer’s best-selling car – inspired by an FIA World Touring Car Championship campaign spearheaded by Britain’s James Thompson.
    The main thing to note about this car, before you even sit in it, is the price: the equivalent to around 11,000 Euros in Russia. That actually makes it nearly double the price of the base Granta, but for that you get a series of upgrades, both cosmetic and mechanical.
    The important thing is a power upgrade to the 1.6-litre engine (derived from the older unit fitted to the Priora) that boosts the output from 98 horsepower in the base Granta to 120 in the sport version, and some closer ratios to the five-speed gearbox. This gives you a 0-100kph time of 9.5 seconds and a top speed of 197kph: just a fraction slower than a Mini Cooper.
    Not just that but you also get some suspension modifications, notably stiffer dampers and springs (currently Russian-made but due to be upgraded to Eibach when the facelift model comes along next year), a bodykit, some 16-inch alloy wheels and proper tyres (Yokohamas fitted as standard) as well as interior improvements: sports seats, with natty trim that matches steering wheel, handbrake and gear lever. Although all Russian cars end up so covered in road dirt that it’s hard to tell, there are a surprising variety of colours on offer too: we like a pearlescent deep blue that the Russians romantically call ‘Odyssey.’
    Set off on your own odyssey with the Granta Sport, and all things considered, it’s a pleasant surprise. A big inconvenience is the lack of seat height adjustment, but you can’t make the omelette of a cheap car without breaking the eggs of expense. No seat height adjustment is a characteristic inherited from the Granta base car, but personally I had rather they spent the money on that than on the driver and passenger seat warmers, for example. Equally, if I lived in Novosibirsk, I might see it very differently.
    Progress is brisk but not particularly sophisticated, yet there’s a strong argument for saying that this should be the legitimate hallmark of a no-frills GTI. Thompson, our tame racing driver, agrees. “It’s very much a back to basics car,” he says. “It’s just fun: something that you can thrash, but you definitely have to drive it yourself.”
    That might be a polite way of describing the new adventures in torque steer you experience when putting the power down, although the lamentable state of most Russian roads isn’t going to help with that. Once you get going you can cheerfully rev for as long as your eardrums can stand it before snapping on to the next gear. Lada already installs extra soundproofing for the Granta Sport during its production process (hand-built on a separate line to the main phalanx of Grantas) but for some people it might not be enough.
    The only really big disappointment with the Granta Sport is the brakes. They bring the car to a stop effectively enough (helped by a relatively light 1160-kilogram kerb weight) but there’s no proper feel to them at all, and as a result this doesn’t inspire confidence in a country where sudden stops are a common occurrence. Moves are already afoot to address this however, with a new specification of brake material planned for the next upgrade.
    The Granta Sport makes do with the standard steering rack, and this is another area of improvement for the future. But it all has to be seen in the context of that price tag, and for the moment there’s nothing out there comparable when it comes to performance for the money. And they’ll even throw in some genuine motorsport pedigree for free. Sadly there are no immediate plans to bring it to the UK, but Lada isn’t ruling anything out in the future…

    Reply
    • July 13, 2016
      Gavin Big-Surname

      This is brilliant. Kind of confirms what I thought it would be like and I’m pleased to say you haven’t dampened my enthusiasm for the car.

      Rather envious that you managed to get a drive in one!

      Reply
  2. July 16, 2016
    Ben

    This is really what Dacia need to do with the Sandero!

    Reply
  3. July 20, 2016
    Chris S

    The Granta Sport claims to be “a car that makes your life richer”. My experience of car ownership is that they make your life poorer – especially around MOT time.

    Still, I like the idea of having a car that will negate my cliches… I’ve been meaning to have my cliches negated for some time but have never got around to it…

    Reply
  4. July 24, 2016
    Andy t

    Am exx gitlfriend bought a white 1988 lada samara 1300 it looked OK and wasn’t a bad drive either all be it a little slow my point being I finally think there maybe a serious market for lada again with there latest venture I’d certainly be interested in a demo in one if it came to the UK

    Reply

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