Borrowed one a while back, remarkably capable 4x4. Diff locks as standard etc. When they first came out they were ahead of their time; coil springs, properly thought out and very supple wishbone front end. The best of both worlds really. The interior is getting a bit dated by today's standards. Not great on long tar drives but that's never stopped Defender owners so why should it stop you? Its size makes it an ideal greenlaner; its toughness is proven every January... There's always someone in a Niva who makes it to the finish of the Dakar (wherever that may be) in the marathon (unmodified unsupported) class.
If you don't mind the wait for a RHD or if LHD is no problem it's worth popping over to France and buying new. The latest 1.7i with LPG and power steering sells for a little over £5000 NEW after a minimum trade in they're offering. It's against EU law for a dealer to refuse to sell RHD in a LHD country, don't know why but there you are.
I was warned about the early 5spd versions when I was looking for a 2nd hand one; the 5th is an add on and weak, also the transfer case has a tendance to detach itself from the floor (yes that's what they said) of the cab. I've looked under a new one recently and it's attached to a chassis strut now.
Go for it! Since Lada pulled out of UK they're probably hard to resell, but you'd lose 5 grand on a bigger 4x4 anyway, so why not keep it till it dies, which could be a good long while.