1997 Subaru Justy GX 4WD 1.3 from UK and Ireland


Very good reliable little car, but a little thirsty


Very little has gone wrong with this car.

1 x rear wheel bearing noisy at 60,000 miles.

General Comments:

Excellent value with 4WD - used frequently for light towing across fields, and firm sand beaches. Very reliable in last 7 years. Car has been used as a good and adequate tow vehicle for small 16 foot boat and trailer. Also for builders trailer.

Very light body panels - dents easily.

Petrol tank and boot area are small due to rear drive axle. But rear seats fold down to give good space.

Best thing is it's completely reliable.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 3rd January, 2009

5th Jul 2009, 16:54

I agree with your comments, the Justy is a little flimsy and the fuel tank is way too small, but for all that I forgave mine everything the first time we had a heavy snowfall and my Justy ploughed through it when cars worth 10 times more got stuck.

7th Jul 2009, 19:14

Old school (84-95) Justys rock!


8th Jan 2010, 13:14

I agree, the old pre-95 Justys are very good - sadly I couldn't find one that wasn't a complete rot box, so bought the Swift shape one instead.

21st Nov 2012, 16:00

I wrote this original review. This Justy has now done 130,000 miles completely reliably. I also have now bought a second 1999 one with low miles, same model & colour. Without hesitation at the price, I would buy another. Great value secondhand!

Lots of people tend to knock these cars in the motoring press as being boring & outdated - ignore them, these are great, reliable, cheap secondhand motors that will go in all road conditions; snow, ice, mud, fields, beaches - very few other cars can compare, and not at the price.

You can pick up a good one now for less than £1000.00.


1997 Subaru Justy GX 1.3 petrol from UK and Ireland


Dated small car in a niche of its own


Battery died, but this is a wear and tear item; hardly a fault with the car - but there was an ominous knocking from the engine, which I originally thought was tappets. Turns out it's more serious than that, the little ends let go on number 3 cylinder so I changed the engine for a low mileage used one. I was disappointed, the original engine had done only 70000 miles with a full main dealer service history so this suggests a manufacturing defect. not good.

A further fault I believe is that access to the engine is far too tight. To change the engine it needs to come out from underneath, there is no room to get to the timing belt, access to the starter and alternator is VERY restricted, and if the long metal coolant pipe at the back of the block starts leaking, you will have a hell of a job getting it to seal.

General Comments:

I haven't had this car long, so this is based on my first impressions. It's not a bad looking car, although considering it's from the mid 90's, it's pretty dated in both styling and the way it drives, being based on the '80s Suzuki Swift.

I find the seats too small to offer adequate comfort on longer journeys.

The boot is tiny and shallow, due to the rear diff being underneath it, although with the rear seats down, you can fit a surprising amount of stuff in there; I carried a fridge freezer the other day.

Considering it's a small town car, the level of standard equipment isn't bad, with central locking, electric mirrors, twin airbags, power steering and cupholders.

The driving experience is similar to that of a Micra; slightly choppy ride due to the short wheelbase, with more roll on corners than you would think, although it's never actually let go when hard cornering.

Performance is best described as adequate - the engine needs to be worked to maintain quick progress but it will go if you need it to. and having lower gearing to cope with driving all four wheels, means that it revs too hard at motorway speeds, doing close to 4000 rpm at 70 mph. The car is also badly affected by crosswinds on the motorway, and tends to wander at speed courtesy of the light steering. It's great on the back lanes though - you really can hustle it along through the bends very well.

Economy is also disappointing; Suzuki G13 engines are greedy little buggers for their size, driven gently it won't do much more than around 35 mpg. If all this sounds negative, then it's because I am only comparing it to other vehicles that were available in '96 in the same price bracket. Think 106, Corsa, Saxo, Fiesta etc, and they all offer a much superior driving experience with better economy. You just have to weigh up how much you need the extra traction provided by the Justy's AWD system. I bought mine because we get bad snow in winter where I live, and that was because I couldn't find a first generation 3 cylinder Justy (these are great cars) otherwise it wouldn't have got a look in.

I can't help thinking that the car was not developed enough when fitted with the 4x4 system; it needs more power, higher gearing and stiffer suspension to be a suitable everyday driver.

However, the virtue of these little Justys is that they remain a very cheap and usually reliable small car, offering cheap insurance, tax and easy to park. You get the odd dealer trying it on in winter (like the joker asking 2 grand for a 97 Justy on eBay recently) but if you need something with extra traction, but don't want a lumbering gas guzzler like a Land Rover, Hilux, etc (my garage is tiny, hence the vehicle choice) then the Justy is worth a look - make sure you are happy with its driving experience before you buy though, and bear in mind it won't go everywhere a proper 4x4 will go, it has no ground clearance. Wet slippery grass, mud, snow etc would be the limit of its abilities. Mud plugger it's not. And DON'T buy one as an economy car!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 7th December, 2007

28th Mar 2009, 16:46

Quick update. We still have this car. We live up in the South Wales valleys, the little Justy proved its worth admirably in the snow last winter, even on standard tyres it's amazing in the snow, it just never got stuck.

8th Jan 2010, 13:17

Well, still have it! Still haven't got it stuck, despite all the snow - and it sailed through another MOT.

19th Sep 2011, 20:32

Still got it! It continues to provide sterling service as it approaches 100,000 miles. Performance and economy were improved quite dramatically by fitting Bosch super 4 plugs.

It's turned out to be one of the best cars we ever owned, it just keeps going.

16th Mar 2018, 14:27

I live in Switzerland and need 4WD to get out of the garage and up a slope. I did this for years using chains (don't they know about them in UK?) but little Subarus do the job perfectly - like 4wd Minis. Who cares what colour the interior plastic is - even what the car looks like? They don't break down - do 1000s and 1000s of km. Of course you've got to look after them - change the oil and filters and drive sensibly - why ever go above 3500, let alone 4000 revs. I'm certainly getting the modern version - a Suzuki SZ3.

1997 Subaru Justy LX 1.3 petrol from UK and Ireland


Nice little car, but expensive to fix!


When I bought the car there was a noise from the back which I thought was a wheel bearing. It was, but I didn't expect it to be exhaust & tyres aswell. This little lot set me back £400. The wheel bearing alone was £80 which was a shock!


The week after the battery has failed. I'm hoping it is just that - if its the alternator I won't be pleased!

General Comments:

Much newer instead than my older Justy (upgraded from 1993 car). Power steering helps a lot.

I prefer the styling on the other model - the new one looks very bland and the back is pretty horrid.

This model is permanently 4wd which is good, but it badly effects MPG - I used to get about 45 mpg from the old model. This new one I'm lucky to get 32.

Overall its pretty good, but I'm regretting buying it at the moment - with all the bills recently. I wish I'd bought a 106 instead.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 3rd May, 2006