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.
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!