The Granta carries a base price of $7,500.

Lada has just started production of its entry-level Granta. It will replace the second generation of the Samara, a rather bland sedan that has been essentially unchanged since 1997.

To keep the cost as low as possible, the Granta is heavily based on the smaller Kalina hatchback. Only 30% of Granta parts are specific to the model.

Under the hood is an eight-valve 1.6 four-cylinder that spins the front wheels via a five-speed manual transmission. Lada's new sixteen-valve 1.4 unit is expected to be made available before the end of 2012.

Granta buyers will be able to choose between two trim levels. The first is called "standard" and carries a base price of $7,500, $400 more than Lada was shooting for when it was developing the car. For that price the Granta has to settle with black plastic bumpers, steel wheels and roll up windows.

The second trim is called "classic" and is much better equipped. For $8,500, customers get luxury features such as power steering, electric windows, ABS, a stereo, and power door locks.

A GPS system, side curtain airbags and ESP are on the options list.

As basic as this car may sound, it has already been a huge hit for Lada. The Russian automaker has announced that it has gathered about 20,000 orders, which accounts for roughly a fifth of next year's production.

Lada has not announced whether it will export the Granta to western Europe or not. However, a duo of track-modified Grantas will reportedly compete in two World Touring Car Championship races next year.