Replacing the old I-Mark, Isuzu's subcompact Stylus sedan arrived in late spring of 1990, as a late '90 model. In the same year,
Isuzu launched a sporty Impulse coupe, built on the same front-drive chassis. A 95-horsepower, 1.6-liter 4 cylinder engine went into the base S model,
with either 5-speed manual shift or a 3-speed automatic transmission. Stepping up to the XS sedan brought a 130 horsepower dual-overhead-cam engine,
as in the Impulse coupe. Only manual shift was offered in the XS. The Stylus S sedan had 13-inch tires, standard power steering, and front-disc/rear-drum brakes.
Power steering, all-disc brakes, 14-inch tires and a firmer Lotus-tuned suspension went into the XS sedan.
1991 Isuzu Stylus: No significant change was evident for the Stylus's second season.
1992 Isuzu Stylus: Although the base Stylus kept its 95-horsepower engine, the XS sedan got a new engine. A twin-cam, 1.8-liter 4-cylinder, making 140 horsepower, replaced the prior 130-horsepower, 1.6-liter powerplant. With the new engine, the optional automatic transmission was a four-speed unit rather than a three-speed.
1993 Isuzu Stylus: Isuzu's subcompact passenger cars changed little for 1993, before fading away. However, the sporty XS version already was gone. That left only a single front drive model for '93.
Road Test Evaluation
Their front-drive chassis might have been shared, but the Stylus sedan and the Impulse coupe were very different automobiles. Both suffered from insufficient low-end torque. Road and engine noise are bothersome, as is exhaust noise at high engine rpm.
The basic 95-horsepower engine is, quite simply, woefully short on power--especially with the 3-speed automatic transmission. It struggles to maintain speed on hills, though standing-start acceleration isn't bad- 12.4 seconds to 60 mph. Fuel economy is competitive- better than 24 mpg overall. An overdrive fourth gear for the automatic transmission would be needed to yield quieter highway running and better gas mileage.
The larger 1.8-liter engine introduced for 1992 offers the low- and mid-range torque that had been lacking in the 1.6-liter, so you don't have to rev above 4000 rpm to get at the usable power. Better yet, the added horsepower was not accompanied by undue torque steer--an undesirable condition in which the front tires of some powerful front drive cars are jerked to the side during hard acceleration.
In braking tests, the Stylus suffered abrupt rear-wheel lockup as well as disturbing front-end clunks and groans. Not the sort of thing one likes to hear when the need to halt is urgent.