Car of the Week: Geo Metro
The Geo Metro was born of a union formed in 1981 between GM and Suzuki (and Isuzu) allowing GM to market the Suzuki Cultus as a captive import internationally under more than a dozen nameplates including the Geo Metro, Chevrolet Sprint, Pontiac Firefly and Holden Barina. Geo models were manufactured by GM in joint ventures with three Japanese automakers. The Prizm was produced at the GM/Toyota joint-venture NUMMI assembly plant in Fremont, California, and the Metro and Tracker were produced at the GM/Suzuki joint-venture CAMI assembly plant in Ingersoll, Ontario. The exceptions, the Spectrum and Storm, were entirely manufactured by Isuzu in Japan. Geo Metro convertibles and early Geo Trackers were built by Suzuki in Japan.
Born to compete against the cheap econo-boxes that were the Ford Festiva and Renault LeCar, the closest we have come in the states since production ended in 2001 would be the Chevrolet Aveo, which may as well be a reskinned Metro.
The original Suzuki Cultus was sold in North America as the Chevrolet Sprint from 1985-1988 before becoming the Metro. Geo was a marque of small cars made by General Motors as a subdivision of its Chevrolet division from 1989 to 1997. Its original slogan was “Get to know Geo.” Formed by GM to compete with the growing small import market of the mid 1980s, the line continued through the 1997 model year, after which the remaining models were given the Chevrolet name. In the 1990’s consumer interest in the economy compact market faded, and the last vehicle of the former Geo line, the Tracker, was discontinued in 2004. This also murdered Saturn. In Canada, another import marque, Asüna, was introduced in 1992 to provide Pontiac-Buick-GMC dealers access to a similar range of import vehicles.
But back to the Metro. The first generation was offered in three and five-door hatchback models as well as a 4-door notchback sedan that was only sold in Canada. In 1990, a convertible was available but was phased out after 1993. Metros came in three trim levels: XFi, Base or LSi. The XFi’s engine has less horsepower than the base and LSi and achieved startling gas mileage 53 MPG (city) 58 MPG (highway). All of the Metros at this time had three cylinder engines with a 5-speed manual or 3-speed automatic transmission. The convertible is also the only first-generation Metro to offer an airbag. In 1995 the Metro was redesigned with a more modern appearance and offered a 70 hp four-cylinder engine, standard dual airbags and optional anti-lock brakes. A four-door sedan replaced the five-door hatchback. The XFi did not return for 1995 and only the base and LSi models were offered. The three-cylinder engine remained in the base hatchback. In 1998 the Metro, now branded as a Chevrolet, was revamped one last time. It was given minor re-styling, improved headlamps, and improved four cylinder engine, now producing 79 hp in an 1800 lb car. The 2000 model year was the last for the Metro hatchback and the three cylinder engine. All 2001 models were four-door sedans that were sold to fleets only. The 1991 MSRP for the Metro was $6750. Gas mileage is in the mid to high forties. The Chevrolet Spark is basically the modern equivalent of this, but much worse.
Hope you learned something. Drop a comment for what car to do next. Thanks! Car with hoodscoop in gallery is a Pontiac Firefly.