It worked for the Koreans, now the Russians are doing it. If you want to crack the ultra-competitive European automotive market, you first have to head-hunt a designer from one of the premium brands, and set him up in a design studio.
So that's what AvtoVAZ, best known for its rugged Lada series of small all-wheel drive vehicles, has done, recruiting former Mercedes-Benz and Volvo designer Steve Mattin.
And this is the first of his efforts for them to be shown in public - the Lada X-Ray crossover concept, on display this week at the Moscow motor show.
Of special interest is the front treatment, with headlights and bumper forming a well-defined “X”, which AvtoVAZ says will be a defining feature of all future Lada models.
Inside, the X-Ray is as ultra-modern as you would expect from somebody who learned how to style car interiors at Gothenburg, with a smooth, coherent and deceptively simple dashboard layout featuring the latest in high-tech infotainment gadgetry, leather-trimmed seats and plush carpets.
Officially, there are no plans to put the X-Ray concept into production, but expect to see a lot of this design DNA show up when the Niva replacement debuts around 2015.