A new concept car displayed on Lada’s stand at the Geneva motor suggests that the company’s next-generation of cars will be a far cry from the old Communist-era Rivas and Samaras of the past.

The C is an aggressive-looking C-segment three-door hot hatch, powered by a two-litre petrol engine, and is the first fruits of Lada maker AvtoVAZ’s new alliance with Austrian contract manufacturer Magna Steyr, whose vehicle assembly customers include DaimlerChrysler and BMW.

The new platform will become the base for the next generation of production cars, which will be launched in the near future, according to Lada spokesman Denis Metalnikov.

MagnaSteyr has designed the platform, but AvtoVAZ’s own Russian designers have styled the C, which is part of a family of cars to be built on the platform, including a sedan, a five-door hatch, a compact MPV and a crossover.

All the vehicles will comply with stringent European emissions and safety regulations, and will be built at a new plant being set up on AvtoVAZ’s vast Togliatti factory which will be managed by MagnaSteyr, Metalnikov said.

Strong sales in Russia have kept Lada alive – the company still builds around 700,000 cars a year. And it exports its current models to left-hand drive markets in Europe: at Geneva it showed new variants of the Kalina small car, including a 1.6-litre GHTI version and a new estate body.

AvtoVAZ also has a joint venture with General Motors, building the Lada-developed Niva SUV and assembling SKD versions of the new Chevrolet Captiva.

And it is in talks with Renault about setting up another production line to build the Logan ‘world car’.