The mini Justy gets you where you`re going, though perhaps not as quickly as a lot of bigger cars with more powerful engines.
But if you`re looking for one of those Point A-to-Point B machines, Justy certainly rates a notice well ahead of the Yugo.
Introduced in January, 1987, the front-wheel-drive Justy is upgraded for 1988 with optional, on-demand four-wheel-drive.
That means going from A to B even if the pavement is packed with snow or covered with water. All you need do is engage four-wheel drive by pushing the button in the gearshift knob. Justy is a high-mileage commuter vehicle that doesn`t have to be garaged when the snowplows are out.
We faced neither deep packed snow nor rain-soaked pavement to test the four-wheel-drive capability of the Justy. But at least ride and handling on dry roads weren`t harsh or unruly, as sometimes is the case with four-wheel drive.
One thing to keep in mind, however, is that the Justy wasn`t raised to allow added ground clearance for four wheeling. We`d stick to the roads and not head for many sand dunes in a four-wheel-drive Justy.
Power is supplied by a 1.2-liter 3-cylinder engine, with 3 valves per cylinder, teamed only with a 5-speed manual transmisson. The 5-speed was smooth, but cold starts with the 3-cylinder were sometimes finicky and required an extra crank.
Subaru won`t add an automatic to its mini Justy lineup until the `89 model year, when it introduces a continuously variable transmission, or CVT.
With a belt-driven CVT, there`s an unlimited number of gears. The transmission shifts automatically based on vehicle speed as it follows the command of your foot on the accelerator pedal. One of the side benefits of CVT is that it eliminates typical automatic transmisson creep or crawl at a stop light. With CVT, the vehicle stands still while idling. However, Subaru is adding an electronic “hill holder“ to the CVT so that those idling at the top of an incline don`t roll backwards. More on CVT later.
The Justy is built on a 90-inch wheelbase and is only 139.2 inches long. It tips the scales at only 1,785 pounds. The tank holds 9.2 gallons, and the EPA rating is 37 m.p.g. city/39 highway, despite a respectable 0 to 60 m.p.h. time of 11.4 seconds from the 3-cylinder engine.
Interior room is good up front but a bit of a squeeze in back, where the seats fold down to allow for more cargo capacity in this hatchback. Justy is not a long-distance hauler if the load is people.
One annoyance could be fixed quickly if Subaru would put a rubber cover on the painted metal accelerator pedal. With only 6,300 miles on the odometer, the pedal looked as if it had 50,000 miles of wear, since the paint had worn off.
There are base DL, upgraded GL and sporty RS Justy versions. We drove the GL, which includes as standard equipment all-season radial tires, AM-FM electronically tuned stereo radi o, tinted glass, rear-window wiper/washer and defroster, remote control driver`s mirror, bodyside moldings, front and rear mudguards, digital clock, intermittent wipers, visor vanity mirror and coin tray. Air is a $685 option.
Base price of the GL is $6,966. With four-wheel drive, it`s $7,666. The base DL starts at $5,866 but isn`t available with four-wheel drive. The RS starts at $8,066, and four-wheel drive is standard.