1992 in motoring
||The examples and perspective in this article deal primarily with the United Kingdom and do not represent a worldwide view of the subject. (February 2012)|
1992 in motoring includes developments in the automotive industry that occurred throughout the year 1992 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.
Despite being criticised as lacklusture by the motoring press, the latest version of the Ford Escort was Britain's best-selling car during 1992. To bolster its chances of maintaining pole position, Ford has given the Escort a mild facelift which has seen the introduction of some impressive new 16-valve fuel-injected "Zetec" petrol engines, while the 1.8 diesel has received a turbocharger. A similar facelift has been given to the Orion saloon version. All models have at least one airbag as standard, with most of the range having a passenger airbag and others also having anti-lock brakes.
Vauxhall's Cavalier was Britain's second-best selling car in 1992, and for the third year in succession it was the best-selling car in its sector. To strengthen its position in the face of an upcoming new rival from Ford, Vauxhall has facelifted the Cavalier range and boosted its safety levels to include a driver's airbag on all models, as well as a passenger airbag and anti-lock brakes being available on most of the range.
Rover announced coupe and cabriolet models of its popular 200 Series hatchback, with a new Honda Accord based saloon, the 600 Series, due on sale in the spring of 1993, with the aged Montego saloon finally due to be discontinued at that stage, although there was still no set date for the end of Montego estate or Maestro production.
Nissan has launched an all-new Micra mini-car range to replace the nine-year-old original model. Powered by 1.0 and 1.3 16-valve petrol engines, the Micra is built at the Sunderland plant in England and is the first Japanese product to be voted European Car of the Year. The original Micra was hugely popular in Britain thanks to its ease of driving, solid build quality, cast iron reliability, competitive asking price and low running costs. The new Micra appears to have all of its predecessor's qualities, boosting its chances of achieving more success in Western Europe.
A year after launching its latest version of the Civic, Honda has further strengthened its model line-up by launching an all-new version of the larger Accord. It is powered by 1.8, 2.0 and 2.2 petrol engines, and is available as a four-door saloon. Honda's venture with Rover continues next year with the launch of the 600 Series, which will be based on the same bodyshell as the Accord but will use Rover's own engines.
Renault has ended production of one of the world's longest-running cars – the R4 – after 31 years in production, the last six of which were in Argentina. Its place as Renault's entry-level model is taken by the entirely new Twingo, a three-door compact hatchback which is comparable in size to Fiat's new Cinquecento. But it promises class-leading interior space thanks to its innovative one-box design which allows for a spacious interior within a compact bodyshell. The only disappointing thing about the Twingo is the fact that most of its mechanicals are derived from the 20-year-old R5, which is still in production in Slovenia two years after the launch of its successor, the Clio.
Meanwhile, Renault has also revitalised the executive end of its range by launching the ultra-modern Safrane, a large hatchback which replaces the R25 as Renault's competitor to the likes of the Ford Granada Scorpio and Vauxhall Carlton/Opel Omega. It is a stylish, comfortable, well-equipped and spacious car which has a strong advantage over many similar-sized rivals by having a hatchback bodystyle.
A year after the launch of its award-winning MK3 Golf, Volkswagen has further strengthened its range with the addition of the Vento – the saloon version of the Golf. It replaces the Jetta, but unlike its predecessor is more of a car in its own right, rather than a booted Golf. Like the Golf, however, it is available with a strong range of petrol engines (1.6, 1.8 and 2.0) as well as an impressively refined and economical 1.9 turbo-diesel. There will also be 2.8 VR6, which with a top speed of around 140 mph is easily a competitively priced alternative to a BMW 325i.
Mercedes-Benz has upgrades its SL range with a few styling tweaks as well as the replacement of the six-cylinder 3.0 engine with two new 2.8 and 3.2 V6 units, both of which have the same power output as the original smaller engine. There is also an exceptionally powerful 6.0 V12 engine which joins the already excellent 5.0 V8 that was previously the range-topping model.
The Fiat 126 has finally ceased production after 20 years and has been replaced by the Cinquecento. Like the 126, the Cinquecento is a three-door entry-level hatchback with a competitive asking price and low running costs. Unlike its predecessor, the new offering has front-wheel drive and a front-mounted engine. And it is also a far more modern looking design than the 126. It carries over the 126's slow but economical 700cc engine, but also makes use of a 900cc unit which is capable of more than 80 mph.
Alfa Romeo has called time on 75 production after six years and replaced it with the all-new 155, a four-door sports saloon which is marketed as a competitively-priced and distinctive looking to a BMW 3-Series. The latest Alfa beats most of its rivals when it comes to value for money, and is at least a match when it comes to visual appeal and ride quality. But whether it can match the best of its competitors in terms of build quality, reliability and refinement is a different matter.
Production of the long-running 740/760 and 240/260 ranges will soon cease at Volvo, as the all-new 850 range of saloons and estates have now gone on sale. The new range, all with five-cylinder engines, is designed to compete with the likes of the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class. It offers better value for money than the established class-leaders, as well as having front-wheel drive instead of the customary rear-wheel drive. Some versions will also be available with four-wheel drive, including the 155 mph range-topping "R" version.