The cars we loved.
Isuzu has a long history of developing quirky interesting cars. It made up for what it lacked in a full line of passenger cars, by making distinctive and often technically innovative niche vehicles. The subcompact Stylus was the latest in a long list of distinctive compact cars that included the Impulse. conceived as the replacement for the dependable (but unloved) I-Mark sedan, it was also the basis for the sporty Impulse coupe.
The front wheel drive chassis featured tuning by Lotus in the top XS model with power coming from a 125 hp DOHC 1.8 l engine. Disc brakes and a 5 speed manual transmission were standard, along with along list of high-tech items that made the Stylus stand out in the crowded subcompact marketplace. The Stylus had a very sporty appearance even in it’s base trims, with a vented hood, integrated fog lights and front air dam. The car’s handling was in the top of it’s class, but refinement and overall value was below segment leaders like Honda and Toyota. Isuzu’s small dealer network meant that the Stylus was a very rare car in most parts of the country. In America, Isuzu was mostly associated with trucks, as its car lineup was no larger than two in any given year.
When the Stylus short run came to an end in 1994, there was no immediate replacement in the US market. In Japan and Europe, the Stylus was replaced by a rebadged Honda similar in size to the Civic and called the Gemini. It was far more refined than the previous Gemini (Stylus), but without the blessing of Lotus tuning, not nearly as fun to drive.