The Geo Storm is a sport compactcar manufactured by Isuzu that was sold in the United States by Geo from 1990 through 1993. The same vehicles, with minor variations, were sold in Canada in the 1992 and 1993 model years only. The Storm was intended to be a budget car with the look and feel of a sports car. It can be considered to have replaced the related Geo Spectrum, which was sold in hatchback and sedan, although it was only sold in two-door hatchback and station wagon forms.
The Geo Storm was a rebadged version of the sporty, second generation Isuzu Impulse minus some of that car's more expensive features. The Storm was sold in Japan as the PA Nero and related Gemini Coupe, Impulse. The Storm lacked the Impulse's Lotus-tuned suspension as well as the Impulse's optional turbocharger and all-wheel drive drivetrain. Although they were essentially the same car, sales of the Storm were much stronger than those of the Impulse—indeed, the Storm sold better than most small GM cars of that era. Slow sales of the Isuzu version doomed the Storm when the Isuzu Impulse was canceled, the Geo Storm derivative had nothing to be built from, meaning both cars were discontinued in 1993. The Storm was replaced by the Geo Prizm for Standard hatchback in the same year as Storm discontinued and The wagonback Model was replaced by Pontiac Vibe in 2002 the Prizm and Vibe was built at the NUMMI plant. For The GSi hatchback Model was replaced by GM Delta platform based Chevrolet Cobalt SS in 2004 The Cobalt SS was built at the Lordstown Assembly in Lordstown, Ohio. As of 2010, there were only 40,300 Storms registered for road use.
Canada received the Storm in 1992, and was offered as base and up-level GSi "Sport Coupe" models (which were fastback-hatchbacks), and, somewhat confusingly, the "Hatchback" model (i.e. the "wagon" body style), which only came in base trim.
The most common body style for the Storm was a three-door hatchback. The 1990 and 1991 hatchbacks were produced in two trim packages, but all Storms shared front disc and rear drum brakes and had an anti-sway bar to tighten the front suspension. The base model was priced at $10,390, and the GSi was $11,650 .USD
1992 Geo Storm Wagonback
Rear view of a 1991 Wagonback
The base model's SOHCinline-four engine produced 95 hp (71 kW) and had a 9.1:1 compression ratio. The more powerful 1990–1991 GSi used a 1.6L DOHC engine that produced 130 hp (97 kW) and had a 9.8:1 compression ratio. The GSi package also included driving lights, a spoiler, a rear anti-sway bar, and a transmission with a gear ratio that was slightly better for acceleration than the base model's manual transmission.
For 1991 and 1992, customers had the option of purchasing a two-door station wagon body style, also called a wagonback. The base price of the station wagon was $11,450, and it was never offered with the stronger GSi engine. The station wagon was marketed as a "hatchback" and the normal Storm – a more traditional hatchback – was marketed as a "coupé".
In 1992, the Storm was restyled to have a smoother front fascia without the pop-up headlight covers on earlier models. The 1992–93 base models retained the same engine, features, and price that were on the earlier car, with slight interior changes such as different stereos, revised rear speaker locations, and interior trim and upholstery. The GSi version from these years cost considerably more ($13,645–14,560) but this price included a larger 1.8 L 140 hp (104 kW) engine.
The Japanese were also offered the Geo Storm version of the Piazza, called the Yanase-Isuzu PA Nero, which was exclusive to Japanese dealerships called Yanase Co., Ltd. under special arrangement, a dealership that sold GM products in Japan.
1990 Geo Storm GSi hatchback in autocross
Modern sport compacts have faster acceleration and better handling, but the performance figures for the Storm were quite respectable for an economical compact car from that era. Autoweek's 1990 review of the Storm was titled "Slick, Quick And Inexpensive", and described the car as "a good performer" that "handles better than the average new car." When Road & Track compared ten sport compact cars they said the Storm had "the highest skidpad rating (0.85 g), sticks like pine tar to the autocross course, is second-quickest through the slalom and stops shorter from 80 mph (130 km/h) than many highly respected sports cars".
Skid pad test figures ranged from 0.81 g to 0.85 g, meeting or exceeding those of the Mazda RX-7 convertible.Sport Compact Car listed the Storm as number three in their "Top Ten of 1992".Hot Rod Magazine's Jeff Smith drove a Geo Storm that was set up for SCCA Super Production racing and declared it to be "every bit as demanding and fun" as racing a Trans-Am series car.
The Storm sold well and was popular with owners, despite getting mixed reviews from automotive magazines. The body styling was "mildly controversial". Kevin Smith of Car and Driver used phrases like "Planet Zarkon" and "space-capsulish" to describe the body, which he listed as one of the best and worst features of the Storm.AutoWeek said that college-aged people tended to "shower the Storm with attention", but that baby boomers tended to "think that at best, the Storm is unusual looking, at worst, odd."
The shape of the body was not the only thing automotive journalists criticized. The engine was described as a "buzzbomb" or "just plain noisy". A few reviewers disliked the suspension, saying the Storm has "above average body lean and needs more rebound control". Some complained about the small cargo area, visibility and the absence of headroom for backseat passengers.
Other aspects of the Storm were more popular with magazine test drivers. Many praised the wide power band of the engine. AutoWeek said, "It revs quickly and easily. Running up to the 7600 rpm redline can be a delight."Automobile Magazine liked the handling, saying, "It's a delight to negotiate twisty...roads with its firm yet compliant suspension."
Year to year changes
1991: A "hatchback" (station wagon/wagonback) model was added, other than that, the Storm carried on unchanged.
1992: All three models of the Storm received a new headlight cluster (with narrow sealed-beam halogen headlamps also seen in that year's Pontiac Grand Prix GTP), tail lights, and front clip. Base models received a new rear bumper treatment. Instrument panel and gauge graphics were also slightly revised. The GSi version received a new spoiler and a larger DOHC engine which offered 10 extra hp.
1993: The wagonback was dropped, and the center console was fitted with a double-DIN radio. The hp rating of the base model dropped from 95 to 90 because of a camshaft redesign to allow more torque, creating a peppier engine.
Overall, there were six versions of the Storm; the GSi, station wagon and base models were all produced with both the original flip-up lights design and with the smoother look of the 1992 to 1993 model years.
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^ abGeo Storm Hatchback. (evaluation). Phil Berg. Car and Driver v36.n10 (April 1991): pp165(2). (836 words)
^ abcdefSlick, Quick and Inexpensive, Autoweek, April 16, 1990 (includes their own review, as well as quotes from owners and from the staff of other magazines like Motortrend, Car and Driver, and Automobile magazines.)
^ abcd"Little squirts: ten sporty point-and-shoot cars for a price that won't soak you. (includes related rating information from six reader/testers) (Evaluation). Kott, Douglas. Road & Track 44.n9 (May 1993): 56(12).
^"Top Ten of 1992; #3 Geo Storm". Alan Paradise. Sport Compact Car. August 1992. P. 27-28.
^The Bonsai GTs. (comparison test of the Nissan NX2000, Geo Storm GSi and Mazda MX-3 GS) (includes article on the retirement of the Honda CRX) (evaluation). Richard Ceppos. Car and Driver v37.n5 (Nov 1991): pp112(7). (1941 words) From Professional Collection.
^"Eleven for thirteen. (quality sports cars under $13,000) (evaluation)." Smith, Kevin. Car and Driver 35.n12 (June 1990): 46(13)