1989 Merkur XR4Ti 2.2 turbo from North America


Good car, if you can afford the repair bills

General Comments:

Car had a pinhole in the fuel line, which spewed onto the engine and started a fire. This damaged the car permanently.

Any little fix is going to cost you an arm and a leg. I needed a new blower motor for the heater - simple, cheap part. Not on this car! 6 hours of labour and $400 of parts later I had heat again.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 10th August, 2010

20th Jan 2012, 16:17

I find that hard to believe when most of the parts on these are easily found at junk yards and on eBay. Do yourself a favor and fix it yourself, or find a someone who can do it in your driveway. Any time you take ANY car to a dealer or "professional" repair shop, they will screw you. With some TLC, these cars are awesome, just don't expect Joe Blow's brakes and chicken joint to cut you a deal.

1989 Merkur XR4Ti 2.3L turbo from North America


A very good, under-appreciated car


Brake discs warped (2x)

Pilot bearing failed (2x)

Front left wheel bearing failed.

Motor mount bolt broke.

Rear CV joint boots torn.

2nd gear synchro weak.

TFI module (ignition) failed 2x.

Turbo oil line failed at about 50K miles.

Tachometer and fuel gauges- intermittent failures due to cold solder joints.

General Comments:

I consider the pilot bearing, oil line, and TFI module failures as the only real problems since the pilot bearing replacement required transmission removal (covered by the warranty, fortunately), the TFI failure stopped the engine dead in its tracks, and the oil line could have been disastrous had it not happened just as I pulled into the driveway at home.

The build quality is good overall and the leather interior is unique in that every panel of the seats is made from leather- not just the seating surfaces. The leather is now 17 years old, and aside from the driver's seat which shows some surface cracking after so many years, the remaining seats could almost pass for new.

Handling is decent, but the car is really under-tired. The stock rims are just 5.5" wide and 195 width tires just aren't wide enough for a 3,000 pound car. The stock front suspension is soft, but replacement KYB GR2 shocks firm things up nicely. Overall balance is understeer, but the turbo can balance things out nicely. There is a fair amount of roll, but overall it handles well.

Ride is nicely firm (once the front shocks are replaced) - comfortable and well controlled.

Engine-wise, the power is very good- once the turbo wakes up at 3,000 rpm. Below that, there's not much "oomph". Waiting for the turbo to spool up can be a bit frustrating, but, particularly in the lower gears, when it does come on boost, the difference is amazing.

The transmission is a little notchy, but is very positive. My second gear synchro is weak, even though I don't rush the gear change.

Carrying capacity is amazing for a relatively short, rear-wheel drive car. Rear seats are roomy and well contoured, and fold 60/40. Once folded, a five foot bathtub will fit inside, although you won't be able to close the hatch completely.

After 17 years, the paint has held up very well as has the engine and turbocharger. I've used synthetic oil since 10K miles and have had no engine or turbo problems. Rattles are few, and the car still feels pretty "tight". The dash is not cracked, the carpet is wearing well, and as mentioned previously, the leather is holding up very well.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 2nd April, 2006

31st Dec 2006, 10:15

Can you please just tell me how many were made? I'm thinking about 3 thousand? Gene nelson -nelson6449@sbcglobal.net.

1st Feb 2008, 04:10

I just purchased a 1988 Merkur for $200. I didn't and still don't know what it is. I drove it home and am surfing the internet to find out what is sitting in my driveway. I haven't done a compression check on it yet, but it's not leaking any oil and no oil burn. However it does appear to be running rich as it's blowing out a little bit of black smoke. Anyone want to share their thoughts with me? What did I get myself into? I bought it sight unseen for my 16 year old son to drive to school.