1982 in motoring
1982 in motoring includes developments in the automotive industry throughout the year 1982 by various automobile manufacturers, grouped by country. The automotive industry designs, develops, manufactures, markets, and sells motor vehicles, and is one of the Earth's most important economic sectors by revenue.
British Leyland began the year with two new vehicles in their extensive armoury - the Triumph Acclaim and Austin Ambassador. Both cars were spacious and competitively priced. The Acclaim was a Ford Escort competitor that offered a more up-to-date and solid package than the ageing Austin Allegro. The Acclaim was derived from the Japanese Honda Ballade. The Ambassador was a heavily reworked version of the Princess, and offered the hatchback bodystyle which was considered too downmarket for the original 1975 car. However, it carried over the Princess's virtues of good ride and handling as well as a spacious and comfortable interior. Equipment levels were also good, and the asking price was competitive.
British Leyland also revived the famous MG marque, a year after the last MGB was sold. The MG Metro 1300 was a sporty version of the standard Austin hatchback with a more powerful 1.3 petrol engine which was capable of 100 mph. British Leyland also expanded the Metro range with the introduction of a luxurious Vanden Plas version.
This year also saw the sell-off by British Leyland of the Coventry Climax forklift truck and specialist engines business into private ownership.
The end of 1982 also saw the end of Austin Allegro production after a decade. It was replaced by the Maestro, which did not go on sale until the new year.
After 20 years on sale, for most of which it was the best selling car in Britain, the Ford Cortina ceased production. Its successor was the aerodynamic Sierra, a range of hatchbacks and estates which quickly earned the nicknames "salesman's spaceship" and "jelly mould" due to their futuristic styling. Underneath, however, the Sierra differed little from its predecessor. 1.3, 1.6, 2.0 and 2.3 petrol engines were carried over from the Cortina although the car rode on a new rear wheel drive platform with independent rear suspension. There was the added option of an economical 2.3 diesel unit sourced from Peugeot and a 5 speed gearbox became available.
Citroën introduced a new medium-sized hatchback and estate range which replaced the long-running GS - the BX. It was aimed directly at the new Ford Sierra, and was cleverly designed to include plastic body panels which combat the threat of corrosion as well as boosting fuel economy. The engine range started with a 1.1 litre petrol, which was unusual in this size of car and was only to be sold in certain European markets. The BX range's top engines were 1.9 petrol and 1.9 diesel units, with the diesel (turbo or non-turbo) offering exceptional levels of refinement. It was launched on the contintent in September 1982 but British sales didn't begin until the following summer.
Audi further strengthened its already healthy reputation as a producer of quality, upmarket cars with the launch of the all-new 100. It is a well equipped, comfortable and solid executive saloon with an aerodynamic bodyshell. The four-door saloon (no longer with a two-door variant) is joined by the five-door Avant estate car. Equipment levels on the standard 100 models are generous enough, but the upmarket 200 has specification levels to rival the likes of the BMW 7 Series in the higher sector.
BMW have bolstered their already-impressive model range with the launch of the new 3-Series, a stylish new range of two- and four-door saloons which are direct competitors for the Audi 80. The range kicks off with the 316, a 1.8 engined model which offers hardly breathtaking performance but still has impressive rear-wheel drive ride and handling. Topping the range is the 323i, which is capable of around 130 mph and has superb handling to match. Build quality is also very good, though such an exclusive car does not come cheap.
Another new model has rolled off the production line at BMW. This time it's the new 5-Series, which is in reality little more than a reworking of the original model. It is a well-equipped, stylish, well-built, comfortable and exclusive large saloon that gives the Bavarian firm a true competitor for the Audi 100, whether you're looking for economy in the shape of the slightly underpowered 518 or ultimate performance in the form of the ultra-quick M5. As with all of BMW's products, it is not cheap, but you get more for your money at these premium prices.
Volkswagen has launched a heavily restyled Scirocco, though it maintains the original front-wheel drive chassis of the original 1974 MK1 Golf based model. The mechanical design and engines are very much the same as before, but the new bodyshell is substantially different. It has been criticised in some quarters as lacking the flair of its predecessor, as has the questionable ride quality.
1982 has not been a particularly busy year for Fiat, the only significant change to its extensive model range being a facelift for the long-running 132 range which has also seen it given a new name - Argenta. The new car differs little from the old one; spacious and comfortable interior and big boot, but very little in the way of visual or driver appeal.
Lancia expanded its range by launching the Prisma - a four-door family saloon. Though based on the chassis of the Delta and Fiat Ritmo hatchbacks, it is in reality nearer in size to cars in the Ford Sierra and Opel Ascona (Vauxhall Cavalier) sector. It uses the same mechanical design and engines as the Delta, but is aimed more at the mainstream market instead of buyers with an eye for excitement.
September saw the launch of the Opel Corsa, a small front-wheel drive hatchback. General Motors announced its intention to import the car to Britain from April 1983 as a Vauxhall, where it would probably replace the ageing Chevette.
Nissan has finally made a move to front-wheel drive for its Sunny range. The model will be badged as a Datsun in Europe - though it is expected that all Datsuns will soon be rebadged as Nissans - and as the Nissan Sentra in America, and is expected to perpetuate the long-running Sunny hallmarks of low running costs, competitive pricing and excellent reliability. A new entry-level model in the Nissan range is to go on sale next year. The Cherry was re-positioned as a hatchback in the mould of the Volkswagen Golf, with 1982 seeing the Cherry's old position in the supermini market filled by the Micra (sold as the March in certain markets), although the Micra will not be available to European buyers until the summer of 1983.
Daihatsu has made its foray into the Escort/Golf sector with the new Charmant, a four-door saloon which is based on the current Toyota Corolla. It is sold alongside the compact Charade, which competes with the likes of the Austin Metro and Ford Fiesta.