1989 Subaru Justy GL II 1.2 petrol from UK and Ireland


Awesome go-anywhere go-kart!!!


Synchromesh started to wear on 2nd gear.

Seats too soft for a car with such grip - needed Recaros.

Otherwise, never put a foot wrong.

General Comments:

This car is the best handling small car on the market - I used drive mainly on the twisty, mud covered roads of Mid Wales where the 4WD was used regularly too.

We had stiffened suspension and mud & snow tyres on all wheels, so the grip was incredible in dry and wet.

Performance from the 3 cylinder engine was mighty - enough to see off any Fiesta/Nova/Metro with same engine size, but low gearing helped to protect my licence by making anything over 85mph too noisy!

A bit on the small side, but could take 2 mountain bikes and weekend kit with a squeeze.

Definitely the most fun you'll ever have from a 1.2 - has anyone made a WRX version yet...?

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 24th July, 2001

1989 Subaru Justy 4 x4 GL 1.2 from North America


It's a good little car!


The drive line breaks you have to buy the whole drive line and not just a U-joint. Dealer item only. 489.00 is way too high and no one knows what you are talking about when trying to get parts, they say left or right? Come on man, it's a 4x4, I need the drive line.

General Comments:

This little car is a good little car if you could get parts easier when something goes wrong.

I do like it a lot.

It's fun to drive, really haven't had a lot of trouble with it.

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

Review Date: 16th May, 2001

1989 Subaru Justy GL 3 cylinder from North America


Tricky to maintain, but it really goes the distance!!!


Transmission began downshifting too quickly at 121,000 miles. Could have been repaired, but parts were not available at a reasonable price and rebuilt transmission had to be found.

All electrical components, including the alternator, had to be replaced around 100,000 miles.

Brakes seem to wear quickly but never completely fail when you really need them.

Heat shields tend to bend easily when unskilled mechanics reach for the oil filter, which will cause an unpleasant noise, but no running problems.

Car is unusually small and may feel like it's blowing in the wind.

It is very difficult to find parts for this car and nearly impossible to find any mechanics with experience working on a Subaru Justy. However, the car is extremely predictable and if there is a problem, it will behave the same way every time until it is fixed and you will know what to expect.

General Comments:

The best diagnostic tool for this car are the warning lights on the dashboard - they have proved accurate 100% of the time, even when mechanics insisted that "the lights don't mean anything, it's just a bad sensor on the warning light itself making it light up".

Maintaining this car can become frustrating, though not prohibitively expensive, due to it's relative rarity. However, it has rock-solid rack & pinion steering that adds a level of precision rarely found in newer cars. Combining that with its abnormally small size, almost any hazard can be avoiding by steering around it without losing control, though it does require some arm muscles.

The bumpers seem to be indestructable, having survived a collision with a small deer, among other things (the deer did not survive).

The car does not have an airbag, which makes it very desirable to short women who feel airbags are too risky.

Perhaps most importantly (at least for a car this age) I have been told the engine is designed to go for 250,000 miles and it seems like that might actually be the case. The engine was checked at 121,000 miles and I was told it's in very good condition.

I drive this car about 500 miles per week, and people are amazed that I get that kind of mileage out of it. It only broke down once in the year and a half that I had it, and that was when it needed a new alternator.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 18th October, 2000

7th Dec 2000, 23:20

I've had great luck with my engine. Over 300,000 KM and it hasn't been touched. Only regular oil (synthetic) and filter changes. It only uses a litre of oil between 5000 KM oil changes. Not bad considering I drive it full bore most of the time.

14th Aug 2002, 13:06

Update to my review of my 1989 Subaru Justy, October 18, 2002:

Had a rebuilt transmission put in shorty after writing that review. It died with 200 miles left on it's 4000 mile warranty. The transmission place refused to honor the warranty, because they said my engine would destroy any new transmission put into it. A lawyer who was also a mechanic told me they WERE obligated to give me another transmission, but only one that would last the 200 miles on the warrantly. Furthermore, if I didn't put about $600 into the engine, it would ruin the transmission anyway.

Since the likelihood of finding a decent EVCT transmission was very slim (if you don't know what that it, you don't wanna know), and the engine needed work, AND I inherited a car from my father around the same time, I decided that the end had come for my Justy. That was in late Janaury of 2001.

Now it is August of 2002 and the car I inherited from my father is (a giant, old, ugly '83 BMW 733i) is overheating and leaking oil everywhere it goes, and has to be disposed of (not sold, DISPOSED OF). What do you think I'm trying to get? Another Subuaru, of course! But this time around I'm hoping for a Loyale - that way I can have many of the same features (love that rear wiper blade and cushy interior) as my Justy had, but without the irreplacable experimental ECVT transmission.

I could not recommend a Justy to anyone knowing what I know now about the ECVT transmissions - except to a collectable with multiple cars, for whom money and reliability is not an issue. If it's your only way of getting around, forget it - cars with ECVT transmissions ceased to be sold in the U.S. in 1994, and the only models were the Subaru Justy and one kind of Nissan. They DID serve their purpose in terms of being extrodinarily clean cars - a Justy CAN'T flunk an emissions test. But people didn't like the way ECVT's transmission slow acceloration, and it was discontinued. You just can't get another one, so if the transmission goes your Justy is history.