Forget the jokes; Lada Samaras are seriously cheap, if, admittedly, not overly cheerful. They were imported here between 1987 and 1997 and throughout that period, improvements and developments were continuous at a time when so much else in Russia seemingly became worse.
The Samara has never pretended to be anything other than inexpensive and pretty basic transport for people who don't care too much about impressing the neighbours. These cars are bought by people who want something that's cheap to own, built to last and not stuffed full of gimmicky luxuries like electric windows, central locking and power steering, not to mention airbags. Yesterday's technology then - usually reliable if a little basic.