Good student car or temporary cheapo
Alternator failed twice in 1 winter. It seems to burn out during slow driving in snow. It is mounted on the hot side of the block and receives little airflow.
Muffler rusted off around 50K. Replaced with a 15$ glass-pack I found on sale. Just 2 clamps and some wire to the stock hanger.
CV joints were beginning to tick after 60K miles.
Factory pale blue paint chipped easily and allowed surface rust on rear wheel wells. During my senior year in high school, I took a body shop vocational class just to fix the looks. We painted it gloss black #1. Then it looked real nice with brushed stainless wheel covers.
Factory speaker openings only fit pip-squeakers. I just put full-sized home speakers in the back; the 45° hatch reflected the sound perfectly. Thrift stores rock.
It was my first car, a hand-down from my Mom. It was the LS hatchback mid-level package. No AC, PL, or PW, just AT, rear wiper, and sunroof (which never leaked BTW). The ventilation blow-through was actually really good because the 1/4 windows flip open.
After I replaced the rusted muffler with a glass-pack I bought on sale, the car was no louder than with a good muffler because the exhaust pipe and catalytic converter are restrictive enough to muffle all noise.
The 1986-90 carbureted 1.5L mitsu was a total slug. This car accelerated in 23 seconds 0-60 mph. Full throttle, fresh tune. If I remember correctly it was rated at ~63 hp.
Guel mileage was terrible for such little power: 24/29 mpg. That's with a 3-speed automatic.
The engine is very noisy when it gets spinning, as in poorly balanced. Still, I got a speeding ticket going almost full-blast 67 mph in a 55 zone. It became an oil guzzler after ~45K miles, though it never smoked.
Overall the car stayed pretty tight, despite driving on packed-snow washboard 6 months a year (in Alaska). It grew a little surface rust on 1/4 panels which I fixed.
I'd say it is an excellent first car for a young driver because the controls are intuitive and simple, and it won't run away even going downhill. sSpeaking of which, the absolute maximum downhill speed it attained was ~90 mph.
Comfort was the weak point - stiff suspension. A little help came from replacing the rear shocks with junkyard parts off a base model. I don't remember if it was older or newer.
I convinced my Mom to sell it because the CV joints started to tick faintly at 60K. So I did the full 60K service and away it went.
They are dirt-cheap nowadays. Personally, I would buy a pre-'91 Precis/Excel only if I was in a bad transportation crunch, and only as a temporary solution. Yhe late-period MPFI models were far superior.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 4th August, 2008