With the massive range of compact four-wheel drives out there, you could be forgiven for thinking that every possible niche had already been filled. But you'd be wrong, because little known Russian brand UAZ is out there filling a gaping hole in the market: Soviet-style stripped back design with the Hunter.

Hunter buyers are offered a choice between two equally exciting engines. For people who want petrol power, there's a 2.6-liter motor putting out a fearsome 94 kW (128 hp) and 209 Nm. If that doesn't sound like much it's because, er, it's not, especially considering the petrol powered Hunter weighs in at 1,845 kg (4068 lb). Still, it's enough to shoot it to a top speed of 150 km/h (93 mph).

If you're keen on diesel power, UAZ offers up a 2.2-liter engine with 84 kW (114 hp) and 270 Nm between 1,800 and 2,800 rpm, enough for a top speed of 135 km/h (85 mph).

The power is put down through a part-time four wheel drive system and a five-speed manual gearbox.

It's not as if either is a firecracker, then, but that's not really the point.

Perhaps more relevant is the car's fuel economy. There's no new European Drive Cycle testing here, but UAZ does claim the petrol car uses 11.5 L/100 km (24.5 mpg) at 90 km/h (56 mph). The diesel is marginally more efficient, using 9.5 L/100km (29 mpg) at 90 km/h.

There are three trim levels available on the Hunter, ranging from the entry level Dymos with its 16-inch alloy wheels to the Trophy model, which sets itself apart with extra underbody protection for the gearbox, transfer box and steering linkages. In between is the Victory series, packing a special khaki color and graphics down the side of the car to celebrate its heritage.

As you'd expect of a car that looks like the Hunter, it's not sitting on a space-age suspension system. Up front, there's a dependent coil setup, while the rear axle sits on leaf springs. The brakes are similarly agricultural, with drums at the rear and discs up front.

So exactly who will be buying one? Well, the car's stripped back simplicity and 500 mm wading depth make it perfect for people looking for rugged dependability in developing countries.

UAZ doesn't offer up a list price online, but it does have distributors based in Mongolia, Laos, Czech Republic, Nicaragua and Vietnam.

Source: UAZ

View gallery - 7 images