Lada is actually a decent car... believe it or not.
For example, in Finland, kids often laughed at us for having such a piece of junk. But I tell you, their smiles would have frozen in the winter, if they had realized that most of the time the western cars froze during the coldest days and Ladas kept running even in the freeziest nights.
Plus, they're dirt cheap here. And performance isn't that bad either (yeah, my friend didn't believe when I said I had driven at 120 km/h along the freeway, but it was true... =)
Also, western cars look so boring. I once had a big pile of pictures of cars; I could tell Lada apart, but the others looked the same. Lada isn't pretty, but it has more space inside than what it looks like.
I've heard (from my Russian studies) that "Lada" is just the name name of the exported cars; The brand name in Russia is Tshikuli (or something like that). "Lada" means... well, my dictionary lists "lad" as "harmony" and "ladno" as "good", so I guess it's something positive. =)