In the 1970's, several experimental models of hatchback and two-door sedan were created in USSR. ZAZ-1102 Tavria, a 3-door hatchback released in 1987, was the first model of the range. It features independent McPherson struts suspension at the front and torsion beams at the rear. The watercooled MeMZ-245 I4 engine was a major shift forward from aircooled V4 used in former models.

The 1102 acquired the Tavria name in 1989. It was chosen in an internal factory contest and resembles Tauric, the ancient Greek name of Crimea.