Suzuki Cultus

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Suzuki Cultus
Suzuki Swift 4door red vl.jpg
Manufacturer Suzuki
Production 1983–2003
Body and chassis
Class Supermini
Layout Transverse front-engine, front-wheel drive
Platform GM M platform
Successor Suzuki Cultus Crescent (Japan)
Suzuki Aerio Hatchback (United States and Canada)
Suzuki Ignis (Europe)
Suzuki Celerio (Pakistan)

The Suzuki Cultus is a supermini car produced by the Japanese manufacturer Suzuki from 1983 to 2003. It was first presented at the 25th Tokyo Motor Show, formally introduced to Japan in 1983 and ultimately sold in seven countries across three generations and marketed worldwide as the Suzuki Swift. An alliance formed in 1981 between GM and Suzuki (and Isuzu) allowed GM to market the Cultus as a captive import internationally under more than a dozen nameplates including the Geo Metro, Chevrolet Sprint, Pontiac Firefly and Holden Barina.[1] It was also known as the M-car within GM.

Offered across its lifespan in four body-style variations with engines from the Suzuki G engine family, the second generation Cultus still remains in production in Pakistan. The Cultus family of vehicles has been marketed in Asia, North America, South America, Australia, and Europe. While never formally marketed in New Zealand they were imported and sold on the secondary market.

The name "cultus" is Latin meaning "care" or "adoration."

First generation (1983–1988)[edit]

First generation (SA)
Also called Suzuki SA310/SA413
Suzuki Swift
Suzuki Khyber
Suzuki Forsa
Holden Barina
Chevrolet Sprint/Sprint Metro
Pontiac Firefly (Canada)
Isuzu Geminett (JDM)
Production 1983–1988
Assembly Kosai, Japan
Bogotá, Colombia (GM Colmotores)
Quito, Ecuador (Aymesa)
Nairobi, Kenya
Bekasi, Indonesia (Suzuki Indomobil Motor)
Pekan, Malaysia (DRB-HICOM)
Trentham, New Zealand (GMNZ)[2]
Body and chassis
Body style 3/5-door hatchback
Layout Transverse front-engine, front-wheel drive
Wheelbase 3-door: 2,245 mm (88.4 in)
5-door: 2,345 mm (92.3 in)
Length 3-door: 3,585 mm (141.1 in)
Export: 3,670 mm (144.5 in)
5-door: 3,685 mm (145.1 in)
Export: 3,770 mm (148.4 in)
Width 1,530 mm (60.2 in)
Export: 1,545 mm (60.8 in)
Height 1,350 mm (53.1 in)
Curb weight 620–750 kg (1,367–1,653 lb)

The first generation was a project begun by General Motors as the M-car. When they realized that the project was not going to be profitable enough, the entire unfinished design was sold to Suzuki in return for a five per cent stake in the company.[3] Suzuki completed the design and development work and put the car on sale from October 1983 in the Japanese market, as the Cultus. This is also why the car's design was such a natural fit in the General Motors lineup, with a clear GM corporate look.[3] The model was also exported worldwide by Suzuki and assembled by a number of General Motors franchises, often undergoing badge engineering. The first-generation Swifts all share the SA model code prefix and was Suzuki's first earnest entry into a class of car with larger dimensions and engines than of the kei class Suzuki Fronte. Three- and four-cylinder versions of the G engine family were available.


Early Suzuki Cultus with recessed lights (Japan) 
Holden Barina (MB) five-door with flush headlights 

Early export models were sold simply by the model code, SA310, the name shortly thereafter changed to a variety of names depending on the market. In Japan the car was always known as the Cultus. The SA310 initially featured leaf sprung rear suspension and was originally marketed with a 1.0-liter, three-cylinder engine. The SA310 had its European premier in southern Spain in late 1983.[4] The original model was available as the base GA, the GL, and the more expensive GLX models.[5] Only three-door versions were available for the first few years. The 1-liter turbo and a three-speed automatic transmission were introduced in Japan on the last day of May, 1984.[6] The turbo's power was raised to 80 PS (59 kW), and it received 165/70 HR12 tyres. In August the 10 cm (3.9 in) longer five-door body was introduced, as was the 1.3-liter four-cylinder version (SA413).[7]

Two headlight variations existed within the earlier models depending on market and level. The lower equipped were fitted with a recessed sealed beam rectangular light while others came with a panel-flush forwards swept glass unit. The drag coefficient value of an early model is Cd=0.38.[8] Before it entered the Australian market as the Barina in 1985, the local Suzuki importer sold it as a two-seat van with the "Swift" moniker, as they did not have the necessary quota allocation to bring it in as a passenger car.[3]


Three-door Suzuki Swift (Europe) 
Five-door Swift GA with updated headlights and full plastic bumper (Europe) 

The model was refreshed and upgraded in June 1986. The leaf springs of the rear end were replaced by coil springs, the front end (forward of the steel body) was remodelled with a more forward swept grill and headlights, the dashboard was remodelled, and the windscreen was now caulked in place (rather than being held with a molded seal as in the earlier model). The 1.0- and 1.3-liter were slightly detuned while the turbo model gained fuel injection and now produces 82 PS (60 kW) (JIS net), while the more powerful twin cam GTi model also arrived.[9]


A Suzuki Swift GTI showing model specific fog lights 

In June 1986, Suzuki introduced the flagship GTi (AA33S) model with both styling and performance upgrades over other models. It was originally available as a manual three-door hatch only, although later a five-door version called GXi was added. The GTi was one of the first Suzuki to feature electronic fuel injection on its G13B high performance twin cam engine. This new engine has 1298 cc thanks to a shorter stroke (75.5 mm, down from the previous 77 mm), fuel injection and 97 PS (71 kW) in the Japanese market. The front brake system was also upgraded to a larger diameter disc.

Interior updates included velour highlighted door cards and seat trimming. A red theme across the dashboard displays, carpet and seat roping was standard as was a centre console. Electric adjustable mirrors were also added.

Exterior styling upgrades included a model specific molded spoiler, side skirts and a bumper bar incorporating fog-lights.[10] The rear suspension was also entirely different from lesser versions.

International markets[edit]

Market Make & Model Year Body[a] Notes
Australia Holden Barina 1985–1988 5
Australia Suzuki Swift 1985–1988 3/5
Canada Pontiac Firefly 1985–1988 3/5
Canada Chevrolet Sprint 1985–1991 3/5
Colombia Chevrolet Sprint 1986–2004 5 Manufactured at GM Colmotores, Bogotá, Colombia
Indonesia Suzuki Forsa 1985
with 970cc F10A four-cylinder (SA-410)
Japan Suzuki Cultus 1983–1988 3/5 Initially marketed as the SA-310
USA Chevrolet Sprint 1984–1988 3/5
N. America[b] Suzuki Forsa 1985–1988 3/5
New Zealand Holden Barina 1985–1988 3/5 [2]
New Zealand Suzuki Swift 1985–1994 3/5
  1. ^ 3=3-door hatchback; 5=5-door hatchback
  2. ^ Sales began in Hawaii, Guam, N. Marianas and in western U.S. states.

Beginning in 1985, Cooper Motor Corporation (CMC) of Nairobi, Kenya, also assembled the SA310.[11]

Japanese market designations

  • 1983~1988 AA41S
  • 1986~1988 A43S, AB43S, AA53S, AB53S, AA33S, AB33S, AA43V

North America[edit]

Suzuki Forsa[edit]
Suzuki Forsa

It was marketed in Ecuador, Chile, Canada and the U.S. from 1985 to 1988 – with Suzuki offering the supermini with either a carbureted 1.0-liter inline-three cylinder or fuel injected 1.0-liter inline 3 cylinder turbocharged engine.

An undetermined number of Forsa superminis were imported to Hawaii and Puerto Rico and some of them have found their way to the U.S. mainland. The EPA lists the 1985 Forsa model as the Suzuki SA310 (the original JDM name for the Cultus, Forsa and Swift), no listing for 1986, and both the Forsa and Forsa Turbo for 1987 and 1988.

In 1984, Suzuki and General Motors announced they would sell rebadged models of the Suzuki Cultus in North America as Chevrolets and Pontiacs, with Suzuki selling their own version as the Forsa.

Chevrolet Sprint[edit]
1986 Chevrolet Sprint 5-door, showing older headlight style (US)

In 1985, GM began marketing in North America as the Chevrolet Sprint, reusing the name from a previous GMC vehicle. The Chevrolet Sprint was sold only in the Western United States until nationwide sale was begun in 1986. Sprint consumers had a choice of ER, Base, and Turbo models. In Canada, the car was sold as Suzuki Forsa and Pontiac Firefly. Firefly marketed in FE, Turbo, and Base models. GM continued to market the Chevette until 1987 alongside the Sprint. In the United States, the Chevrolet Sprint label was dropped with the introduction of the Geo Metro (second-generation Cultus), but it continued to be used for a while longer in Canada.

The "Sprint" and "Sprint Metro" differed in their engines, though both were computer controlled carb systems. From 1985 to 1988, the carbureted 1.0-liter 3-cylinder engine used a hemispherical head design. Later, fuel injection required the cylinder head for 1989 be redesigned to add the additional cooling required, reducing gas mileage.

The Sprint was originally offered in parts of the western US for the 1985 model year; subsequently Chevrolet marketed the Sprint across North America. All models were initially three-door hatchbacks. Starting in 1986, a five-door hatchback version was offered, called the Sprint Plus. That year, another model called the Sprint ER was offered that included a few extra features, such as an "upshift" light to indicate the ideal speed to shift to the next highest gear on manual transmission models. Although air conditioning was offered in all years, the three-speed automatic transmission wasn't offered until 1986. All models featured front-wheel drive and 12-inch wheels.

Turbocharged versions of the 1.0-liter three-cylinder engine were available in the Turbo Sprint in both the United States and Canada. Colors were limited to white and red for the Turbo Sprint. Naturally aspirated models' color choices were:

  • Red
  • Silver metallic
  • Blue metallic
  • Light Brown metallic (discontinued after 1987)
Chevrolet Sprint Metro[edit]

In the 1988 model year, the naturally-aspirated hatchback was named the Chevrolet Sprint Metro. Production of the first Geo Metro models began at Suzuki's plant in Hamamatsu, Japan.


The name "Chevette Sprint" was considered before calling the Colombia model (first generation) the "Chevrolet Sprint"—to distinguish it from the Opel knock down kits imported to Brazil.[12] When presented on 7 October 1986, the Sprint caused a sensation.[12] Slight modifications were made in 1987, including increasing the wheel sizes from 12" to 13" and the Sprint remained in production virtually unchanged til 2004 – with a total production of 70,848.[12]

See: 1985 US Chevrolet Sprint commercial
See: 1988 Colombia Chevrolet Sprint commercial

Second generation (1988–2003)[edit]

Second generation (SF)
Suzuki Swift (second generation) (front), Kuala Lumpur.jpg
Also called Suzuki Cultus Esteem
Suzuki Swift
Geo Metro
Pontiac Firefly
Maruti Suzuki 1000/Esteem (India)
Holden Barina
Chevrolet Swift (Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela)
Suzuki Forsa II (Ecuador)
Chevrolet Sprint (Canada)
Subaru Justy (Europe)
Suzuki Amenity (Indonesia; HB)
Suzuki Esteem (Indonesia; Sedan)
Changan Suzuki Lingyang (China)
Suzuki Margalla (Pakistan)
Production 1988–2003
1999–2015 (China)
2000–2016 (Pakistan)
Assembly Kosai, Japan
Ingersoll, Ontario, Canada
Chongqing, China (Chang'an Suzuki)
Bogotá, Colombia (GM Colmotores)
Quito, Ecuador (AYMESA)
Esztergom, Hungary
Gurgaon, India
Bekasi, Indonesia (Suzuki Indomobil Motor)
Pekan, Malaysia (DRB-HICOM)
Karachi, Pakistan,
Valencia, Venezuela (GM Venezolana)
Body and chassis
Body style
Layout Transverse front-engine, front-wheel drive
Wheelbase 2,265 mm (89.2 in) (3-door/conv.)
2,365 mm (93.1 in) (5-door/sedan)
Length 3,745 mm (147 in) (3-door/conv.)
3,845 mm (151.4 in) (5-door)
4,095 mm (161.2 in) (sedan)
Width 1,575 mm (62.0 in) (3/5-door)
1,590 mm (62.6 in) (sedan/conv.)
Height 1,350 mm (53.1 in) (3-door)
1,380 mm (54 in) (5-door/sedan)
1,340 mm (52.8 in) (conv.)
1989–1991 Suzuki Swift GA 3-door hatchback (Australia)
1992 Suzuki Swift GL sedan (Australia)
Suzuki Lingyang China
Suzuki Lingyang facelift China

The second generation, introduced in Japan in September 1988, followed by their European debut at the Brussels Auto Salon in October.[13] Some say it was designed at GM's Technical Center in Warren, Michigan, USA,[citation needed] and GM did designate it the GM M platform. (Personal interviews with GM Proving Grounds [Milford, Michigan, USA] Technicians indicate that the car was never seen at the Proving Grounds during the development period, thus casting doubt on a Warren design.) The chassis, engines, and drivetrains were developed by Suzuki, The second generation offered new styling and four wheel independent strut suspension. A turbocharged version remained fairly popular in Canada, which was the only export market for the version.

It was available with a 1.0-liter three-cylinder with a power output of 53 hp (40 kW), a 1.3-liter four-cylinder, and later a 1.6-liter four-cylinder (for the sedan only). The higher powered Cultus/Swift GTi had an improved G13B engine which featured hollow camshafts, stronger web casting on the engine block, a better flowing intake manifold (the prior generation intake manifold had its shape compromised to fit into the engine bay), and its ECU now had electronic control over ignition timing. It now put out 100 hp (75 kW) of power. The GTi also featured all wheel disc brakes.

In June 1989 Suzuki introduced their first three-box sedan since the discontinuation of the Fronte 800 in 1969. Sold as the "Cultus Esteem" in Japan, it was also available with a larger 1.6-liter engine never offered in the hatchbacks. Suzuki facelifted the Cultus in 1991 for the 1992 model year. The update involved the relocation of the rear license plate to the rear bumper from in between the tail lamps. The gap vacated by the license plate was filled in with either a black plastic panel or translucent red perspex panel integrating with the tail lamps. At the front, Suzuki revised the bumper's airdam, and inside, the interior was substantially re-designed.[14]

All Swifts got a redesigned front and rear fascia as well as a new dashboard. GS sedans received power steering and new hub caps. The 1.0-liter three-cylinder engine received a new cylinder head assembly: the engine of the previous generation used the same block and corresponding components but featured a head with valves in a V-formation straddling a single camshaft with rocker arms on shafts, whereas now the cylinder head assumed a much slimmer profile, owing to the valves now being in a vertical, inline configuration, actuated by inverted buckets also serving as hydraulic valve lash adjusters, all underneath a single overhead camshaft.

The first European-built model was a "Suzuki Swift" manufactured in September 1992 in Esztergom, Hungary. Updates in 1996 followed, and model year 2000 modifications included a version fitted with the same Suzuki four-wheel drive system that had been available in the Japanese market and badged as the Subaru Justy. The last modifications were made on the European Gen II from model year 2002 but only for the Hungarian market. The production of the three-door models ended in September 2002. In the same year, in December, the four-door sedan version was also discontinued. The last variation available was a five-door version, which was offered until March 2003.

In Ecuador, the local plant Aymesa assembled some versions of this vehicle. The three-door version was called Suzuki Forsa II, while the four-door sedan version was badged Chevrolet Swift. Production of the sedan ended about 1996, while the hatchback version continued to being produced until 1999 or 2000 and it was badged as Chevrolet Forsa in latter years. It was imported to Colombia from 1991 until 2004, where it was called the Chevrolet Swift.[12]

Production of the Cultus in Pakistan ended in late 2016, with sales ended on 1 February 2017. Chinese sales by Chang'an ended in early 2015. In Japan, the Cultus was gradually replaced by the slightly larger Cultus Crescent, sold as the Baleno in Europe and as the Esteem in North America.

A Suzuki Swift of this generation was used as a weapon in the 2009 attack on the Dutch Royal Family.

Names in different markets[edit]

Nameplate Market Body
2-dr Cv 3-dr HB 4-dr Sd 5-dr HB
1988–1994 Holden Barina[a] Australia X X
1989–1994 Geo Metro / Chevrolet Metro[b] N. America X X X X
1989–1994 Pontiac Firefly Canada X X X X
1989–1994 Suzuki Swift N. America X X
1989–1998 Suzuki Cultus Japan X X X X
1989–2004 Suzuki Swift[c] Europe X X X X
1990–1994 Maruti 1000 India X
1991–2004 Chevrolet Swift Colombia[d] X X
1994–2007 Maruti Esteem India X
1995–2003 Subaru Justy[c] Europe X X
1999–2015 Changan Suzuki Lingyang China X
2000–2016 Suzuki Cultus[e] Pakistan X
  1. ^ MF, MH: only generations of 'Cultus-derived' Barina
  2. ^ Geo branded models in US after 1989, in Canada after 1992.
  3. ^ a b Manufactured at Magyar Suzuki
  4. ^ Imported to Colombia.
  5. ^ Manufactured at Paksuzuki.

Maruti 1000[edit]

Maruti 1000
Maruti Esteem facelift version, Pune.jpg
2004–2007 Maruti Esteem
Manufacturer Maruti Suzuki
Also called Maruti Esteem
Production 1990–2007
Engine 970 cc F10A I4
1298 cc G13BA I4
1298 cc G13BB 16V EFi I4
1527 cc TUD5 diesel I4
Transmission 5-speed manual
3-speed automatic
Wheelbase 2,365 mm (93.1 in)
Length 4,075 mm (160.4 in)
4,095 mm (161.2 in) (Esteem)
Width 1,575 mm (62.0 in)

The Maruti 1000, made by Maruti Udyog was a sedan-type car produced in India between October 1990 and 2000. The car is a rebadged Suzuki Cultus/Swift and was introduced in October 1990 (although Maruti had been showing the car since 1989). With a large waiting list for all Maruti cars, a computerised lottery was used to decide who got a chance to buy a Maruti 1000.[15] This was remarkable as the car was considered a luxury vehicle at the time, hard to conceive of from today's (or a foreign) viewpoint – but in 1990, when it was released, its purchase price was high enough that it was out of reach for more than 99.5% of India's population.[16] It sold at Rs. 381,000. A period commentator even accused the 1000 of being a project "by the elite for the elite.[16]

1998-2002 Maruti Esteem

The car came with a 970 cc engine whose output was just 46 hp and proved underpowered for a car that weighed 825 kg (1,819 lb).[17] This outdated engine was also installed by Suzuki in the Cultus/Swift range for a few other developing markets.

Maruti Esteem[edit]

In 1994 an upgraded version of this car, with a more powerful 1.3-liter engine, was released with new looks and the new name Maruti Esteem. Initially,the car looked very similar to the Maruti 1000, except it had an extra cluster of lights at the back. The first model had a 65 hp (48 kW) carburetted engine but this was replaced by a 85 hp (63 kW) fuel injected 16-valve unit in 1999. This proved to have one of the highest power-to-weight ratios in the under two-liter class, and helped the Esteem reach considerable success in Indian auto racing, where it is still popular in rallying. There was also a limited series of the sportier VXi, with 91 hp (68 kW). The Maruti 1000 remained in production until 2000 and was eventually discontinued due to low sales.

As more competitors appeared on the Indian market, the Esteem's sales began to drop. It subsequently underwent a series of price cuts towards the end of its life, and in 1998 received a full facelift which included a new grille, new tail lights and new head lights. Several new colours were also released. In 2002, another minor change was made when the chrome grille was replaced by a mesh grille. Another facelift took place in July 2004, consisting of new lights and bumpers, as well as the addition of a spoiler, and were borrowed from the Chinese "Changan Suzuki Lingyang" (Antelope) version of the Swift sedan.[18] The new version also received clear lense tail lights and new wheel covers, while new colours were introduced again.

The Esteem was also available with a 1527 cc Peugeot TUD5 diesel engine as well, at a slightly higher price. The models offered in the mid-2000s were:

  • LX (base model/manual-steering)
  • LXi (power steering, from April 2002)[19]
  • VXi (sportier, with 6 more horsepower)
  • AX (automatic transmission)
  • D (diesel base model, equivalent to LX)
  • Di (diesel with power-steering)
2004-2007 Maruti Esteem VXi

The 1.3-liter (74 mm (2.9 in) bore by 75.5 mm (3 in) stroke) 16-valve SOHC engine has a compression ratio of 9.0:1 and makes 85 hp (63 kW) at 6000 rpm and 105 Nm (77.4 ft·lbf) of torque at 3000 rpm. The same engine was later used by the then upgraded Maruti Gypsy King, Maruti Versa and the Maruti Suzuki Swift. The Peugeot-sourced TUD5 1.5-liter (77 mm (3 in) bore by 82 mm (3.2 in) stroke) eight-valve engine had a compression ratio of 23.0:1 and made 57 hp (43 kW) at 5000 rpm and 96 Nm (70.8 ft·lbf) of torque at 2500 rpm. The Esteem received a minor facelift in 2004 and production ended in November 2007, with the car being replaced by the new Suzuki Swift DZire.

North America[edit]


1989–1991 model year Suzuki Swift 3-door (US)

Following limited 1985–1988 sales of the Forsa, the nameplate was changed to Suzuki Swift. The Swift was available as a three-door GTi and five-door GLX hatchback. Designed by General Motors, the design echoed that of the contemporary Chevrolet Cavalier and Pontiac Sunfire.[20] A four-door sedan followed in 1990 – imported from Japan. For Swifts in North America, the 1.0 liter three-cylinder was only available in Canada where it was sold from 1992 to 1994. In 1990, the GLX was dropped; an inexpensive GA 3-door was added as were GA, GL and GS four-door sedan. At the same time, the GTi name was changed to GT because of an out-of-court settlement with Volkswagen of America over their similarly named GTI. The Swift nameplate moved on to separate from the Cultus, eventually being placed on the North American "third generation" model.

The Swift featured a 993 cc inline three cylinder engine producing 55 hp (41 kW). The G10 engine weighed 63 kg (139 lb) and was the same as used in the Geo Metro and other North American iterations. Other engine configurations included a carbureted or fuel injected SOHC eight-valve 1.3-liter G13. Trim levels included the 1.0 GA and the 1.0 GL. The GA model included plastic wheelcovers, four-speed gearbox and cloth trim. The GL model included more equipment such as a five-speed gearbox, alloy wheels, a sunroof, and air conditioning in some markets.

With the first generation, Suzuki marketed the Swift GTi with the G13B engine – a DOHC 16 valve, 1.3-liter, in-line four-cylinder engine with an aluminum block and cylinder head, forged steel crankshaft and connecting rods, and cast aluminum high compression pistons (10:1 compression ratio). Its power output is 101 hp (75 kW).

The second generation received a modest restyle and other production changes in 1992, including changes to the bumpers, tail lights and interior. GT/GTi versions were equipped with larger sway-bars, and the camshafts were now solid. Production for the North American market ended in 1994. From 1995 onward, the redesigned North American-exclusive Suzuki Swift was built at CAMI Automotive, receiving all the modifications of its Pontiac and Geo/Chevrolet siblings – only ever available in the three-door body style, however.


The second generation Cultus was sold as the Geo Metro in the US and Canada, and as the Pontiac Firefly in Canada (and the Middle East), and as the Chevrolet Sprint in Canada. Unlike the four-cylinder Swifts, General Motors-badged units usually featured the 1-liter G10 engine, with a turbocharged version and a larger 1.3 available in some Canadian market versions. In 1990, production began at CAMI Automotive, where all remaining Metro models with the exception of convertibles would be produced.

G10: 1.0 L3
In the United States a single engine was available from 1989 through 1994: a 1.0-liter I3 engine. Rated at 60 hp (39 kW), the engine achieved 38 city, 45 highway mpg[citation needed] per the revised 2007 EPA mileage standards. The detuned 49 hp (37 kW) engine in the XFi, introduced in 1990, is optimized for high mileage. It combines a shorter duration cam, leaner fuel map, two ring pistons, and a higher final drive gear model to achieve 43 city, 51 highway per the revised 2007 EPA mileage standards.

As per the first generation, a turbocharged variant of G10 was also available in the Canadian Pontiac Firefly from 1989 to 1991. It was no longer available in the US market, however.

G13: 1.3 L I4
Canadian Metros had the 1.3-liter engine available as an option beginning in 1993 in the three-door GSi model, and as standard equipment in the sedan (exclusive to the Canadian market at the time: American market Metros were not available in a sedan bodystyle until 1995).

Geo Metro

Only available as a hatchback (later also a convertible) in the United States, the Canadian market also received Japanese-built four-door sedans. Canadian sales of the Geo Metro only began in 1992, after the demise of the Asüna brand. For 1990, the Metro's second model year, Geo introduced the Metro LSi models, which included an automatic transmission, air conditioning and a stereo with cassette player. Geo also introduced the frugal XFi model, featuring a lower powered economy-tuned version of the three-cylinder engine, a higher final drive gear ratio, and certain deleted interior amenities (e.g., the passenger mirror). It thereby achieved 43 city, 51 highway per the revised 2007 EPA mileage standards. XFi made up less than 10% of Metro sales.[21] A little bit later, the Japanese-built convertible model debuted, available in LSi trim. In 1991, GM increased convertible production and added paint options. In 1992, the Metro received a facelift with new hubcaps, exterior modification and new interior controls.

In 1993, both LSi hatchbacks and the convertible were discontinued. Automatic door locks, which deploy after the car reaches a speed of approximately 8 mph (13 km/h) were introduced this year. In 1994, five-door hatchback production ended. In 1994, Geo dropped the XFi model.[22]

Under its Geo Metro US badging, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) judged the 1.0L Geo Metro/Suzuki Cultus as the leading gasoline-fueled vehicle within their Greenest Vehicles list of 1998 and 1999.[23][24][25]

Partially because of the renewed interest in the Metro/Cultus due to rising fuel costs, the July 2009 issue of the US Car and Driver included a 1998 Metro/Cultus 3-door hatchback among vehicles tested for fuel efficiency alongside two hybrid models: the 2010 Honda Insight and 2010 Toyota Prius models. During a 600-mile long, mixed driving conditions, route. While notably lacking in modern conveniences and weighing considerably less, the Cultus/Metro tied in first place with the Prius for best overall fuel economy at 42 mpg‑US (5.6 l/100 km).[26]

Chevrolet Sprint

The Sprint badge continued to be used in the Canadian market until the Geo brand was introduced in 1992. Unlike its American counterparts, the Canadian Sprint remained available with the 1.0 liter turbo engine.

Canadian Chevrolet Sprint three-door, circa 1990
Pontiac Firefly

Introduced for 1989, the Firefly was also available as a convertible and as a four-door sedan from 1990 until 1991. All hatchbacks were manufactured at CAMI, while convertibles and sedans were sourced from Japanese production. The Firefly was not marketed for the 1992 and 1993 model years when the 1993-only "Asüna" brand introduced the larger 1992 LeMans to replace the Passport Optima and the pre-facelift Firefly.

In 1994, the Firefly returned with a facelift following the demise of the Asüna brand, available as a hatchback and a sedan. It was short-lived, being replaced by the third generation for the next year.

US second generation models received the following NHTSA's New Car Assessment Program ratings:

  • Front Impact, Driver: 3/5 stars Safety Concern: High likelihood of thigh injury
  • Front Impact, Passenger: 3/5 stars

See NHTSA Test Results: 1994 Geo Metro


1990–1991 Holden Barina 3-door (Australia) 
1990–1991 Chevrolet Sprint convertible (Canada) 
1989–1991 Pontiac Firefly 3dr hatchback 
1994 Pontiac Firefly 3dr hatchback 
1991–1998 Suzuki Cultus 3-door, 1.0-liter (Japan) 
1991–1998 Suzuki Cultus 3-door, 1.0-liter (Japan) 
Suzuki Swift 1.6 sedan (Europe) 
1994 Suzuki Swift Cino (Australia) 
1994 Suzuki Swift Cino (Australia) 
Subaru Justy, circa 2000, a second generation Cultus derivative manufactured at Magyar Suzuki, Hungary. 
1992–1994 Geo Metro sedan 
Geo Metro 5-door, 1992–1994 
1992 Geo Metro convertible 



The Suzuki Cultus developed through generation two in Japan, and was superseded by the Cultus Crescent—a larger offspring of the Cultus.


The second generation was introduced in 1988 with similar dimensions and but redesigned to make better use of the cargo area and cabin space. Like its predecessor, the new Cultus was available as a 3- or 5-door hatchback, and was powered by G-series engines from 1.0 to 1.3 liters. However, this last one had adopted an SOHC 16-valve arrangement, with standard fuel injection. Power was 58 PS (43 kW) and 82 PS (60 kW), respectively. For the first time, 4WD was optional on the larger engine.

The Cultus GTi was now much more powerful, reaching 115 PS JIS (85 kW) with updated version of the previous GTi engine: the G13B engine that had higher compression pistons (11.5:1 compression ratio), tubular exhaust headers, a tubular intake manifold, larger camshafts and a reprogrammed ECU. Some models of the Cultus GTi were also available with all-wheel drive.

More well outfitted versions were the Cultus Ellesse (which included automatic air conditioning, central locking, power windows and adjustable steering wheel) and the Esteem, a sedan version. The Esteem featured a larger 1.5-liter engine, capable of reaching 91 PS (67 kW), and it was available with optional 4WD. The equipment was the same as the Cultus Ellesse.

In 1992, Suzuki introduced a two-seat convertible, based on the hatchback body – and dropped shortly thereafter.

  • 1988~1998 AA34S,AA44S,AB34S,AB44S
  • 1992~1993 AK34S, Cultus Convertible

Cultus Crescent[edit]

The Suzuki Cultus and Cultus Crescent were two distinct but related models sold in Japan by Suzuki – with the Cultus Crescent eventually superseding the Cultus. The Cultus Crescent was introduced in the Japanese market in 1995 sharing the same platform and many components from the Cultus – although with a chassis stretched by 10 cm (4 in) and featuring completely different styling.

The Cultus Crescent was available initially in two body variants, a three-door hatchback and a four-door saloon. In 1996 Suzuki introduced the Cultus Crescent Wagon, Suzuki's first station wagon (excluding kei cars). In 1998, the base Cultus/Swift was taken off the market in Japan, and Suzuki consequently dropped the "Crescent" name. The larger model was now simply called Cultus, and received new front end styling. The 1.6-liter 4WD variant was extended to the rest of the lineup, but not the 1.8-liter engine, which was only available in the other bodies other than the wagon in export markets. The Cultus remained in production in Japan until 2002, after a year of overlapping with its replacement, the larger and entirely new Aerio.

Production of the Cultus began in other countries and was available in developing markets such as India as the Maruti Suzuki Baleno till production ceased in 2007 to make way for the Suzuki SX4. Elsewhere internationally, the larger Cultus Crescent was marketed as the Suzuki Baleno and Esteem.

See also: Suzuki History of Cultus


1997–2003 European market "Subaru Justy", built in Hungary

Assembly also commenced in India (Maruti Suzuki), Hungary (Magyar Suzuki), Pakistan (Pak Suzuki), and China (Chang'an Suzuki). When production began at Magyar Suzuki of the Suzuki Swift in 1992, Suzuki invested $230 million in capital for the new company and flew each of its Hungarian workers to Japan for training in its production methods.[27] Notably, 5-door models of the second generation (under the nameplate Cultus) were manufactured in Pakistan until late 2016. Production of the second generation four-door sedans were manufactured occurred in China until 2015.

"Mk" nomenclature[edit]

Mk nomenclature varies by region, emphasizing local marketing distinctions, restylings, and market adaptations

North America:
Mk1 – 85–88 (Boxy body) — Corresponds to First generation
Mk2 – 89–91 (Round body + Boxy dash) — Corresponds to Second generation
Mk3 – 92–94 (Round body + Round dash)— Corresponds to Second generation (first restyle)
Mk4 – 95–97 (Guppy mouth) — Corresponds to Third generation Metro/Firefly/Swift
Mk5 – 98-01 (Razor mouth) — Corresponds to Third generation Metro/Firefly/Swift (first restyle)

Mk1 – '86 to '88 — Corresponds to First generation
Mk2 – '88 to '92 — Corresponds to Second generation
Mk3 – '92 to '96 — Corresponds to Second generation (first restyle)
Mk4 – '96 to '01 — Corresponds to Second generation (second restyle)
Mk5 – '01 to '02 — Corresponds to Second generation (third restyle)

Mk1 – SA310 / SA413 (1984–86).[28]Corresponds to First generation
Mk2 – SF310 / SF413 / SF416 (1989–92)[28]Corresponds to Second generation
Mk3 – SF310 / SF413 / SF416 (1993–99)[28]Corresponds to Second generation (first restyle)

Mk1 Introduced March 1984, the SA Swift was front wheel drive, with a solid axle and drum brakes on the rear, with front disc brakes.

  • Models: GA, GL, GC, GLS and GTI.

Mk2 New rounder body shape with mechanicals similar to the SA model and the solid rear axle replaced by a trailing arm setup.

  • Models: GA, GL, GTi 3-door hatchbacks; GL and GLX Sedans, with 4WD available between 1990–91.

Mk3 Remodeled interior, revised front and rear bumper fascias. New rounded dashboard.

  • Models: GA, (later replaced with the City Car), the Cino, GL and GLX Sedans, and the GTi


In 1992, Nobuhiro Tajima used a heavily modified twin engined Cultus in the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb.

A Suzuki Swift GTi driven by Mark Brame and Henry Draper won the 1992 Yokohama 6-Hour for Production Cars at the Winton circuit in Victoria, Australia on 29 November 1992.[29]


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  4. ^ Jongeneel, Jeroen (24 December 1983). "Rijden met: Suzuki SA 310" [Test Ride]. Autovisie (in Dutch). Hilversum, Netherlands: Folio Groep B.V. 28 (26): 62. 
  5. ^ Verhelle, Tony (1984-07-05). "Gedetailleerde Test: Suzuki SA310 GLX" [Detailed Test]. De AutoGids (in Flemish). Brussels, Belgium: Uitgeverij Auto-Magazine. 5 (125): 117. 
  6. ^ 自動車ガイドブック [Japanese Motor Vehicles Guide Book 1984/1985] (in Japanese), 31, Japan: Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association, 1984-10-20, p. 112, 0053-840031-3400 
  7. ^ Automobile Guide Book 1984/1985, p. 113
  8. ^ Jongeneel, p. 63
  9. ^ 自動車ガイドブック [Japanese Motor Vehicles Guide Book 1986–'87] (in Japanese), 33, Japan: Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association, 1986-10-20, p. 119, 0053-870034-3400 
  10. ^ Modern Motor, November 1986
  11. ^ Mastrostefano, Raffaele, ed. (1985). Quattroruote: Tutte le Auto del Mondo 1985 (in Italian). Milano: Editoriale Domus S.p.A. p. 225. ISBN 88-7212-012-8. 
  12. ^ a b c d "Historia del Chevrolet Sprint" (in Spanish). Retrieved 12 June 2008. 
  13. ^ Mastrostefano, Raffaele, ed. (1990). Quattroruote: Tutte le Auto del Mondo 1990 (in Italian). Milano: Editoriale Domus S.p.A. p. 984. 
  14. ^ "1992 Suzuki Swift Hatchback". Edmunds. Retrieved 16 October 2011. 
  15. ^ Chrysler, Mack (March 1991). "See a Maruti 1000? Buy it, quick!". Ward's Auto World. 27 (3). pp. 82–83. ISSN 0043-0315. 
  16. ^ a b Thomas, J. W. (13 January 1990). "No Place for This Project". Economic and Political Weekly. Mumbai, India: Sameeksha Trust. 25 (2): 67. 
  17. ^ Quattroruote: Tutte le Auto del Mondo 1992 (in Italian). Milano: Editoriale Domus S.p.A. 1992. pp. 458–459. 
  18. ^ Rathore, Deepesh; Swarup, Tilak (6 July 2004). "Exclusive: India: Maruti updates the Esteem". Arog Ltd. Retrieved 20 September 2013. 
  19. ^ "New Esteem model launched". India Business Insight. 12 April 2002. Retrieved 3 September 2013. 
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  21. ^ J.J. Gertler. "Little Big Man, First Look: 1995 Geo Metro". Retrieved 10 June 2008. 
  22. ^ Matthew L. Wald (12 November 1995). "Economy Champs Get the Cold Shoulder". The New York Times. 
  23. ^ "The 12 Greenest Vehicles in 1999". ecomall. 1999. Retrieved 23 December 2015. 
  24. ^ O'Dell, John (18 February 1999). "Guide: It Isn't Easy Being Green". The LA Times. Retrieved 23 December 2015. 
  25. ^ "Guide to green cars, trucks released". CNN. 19 March 1998. Retrieved 23 December 2015. 
  26. ^ Phillips, John (July 2009). "2010 Honda Insight vs. 2010 Toyota Prius, 1998 Chevy Metro – Comparison Tests". Car and Driver. Archived from the original on 10 October 2012. Retrieved 23 December 2015. 
  27. ^ "Company History: Suzuki Motor Corporation". Retrieved 12 June 2008. 
  28. ^ a b c "Suzuki Swift History in Australia". Retrieved 1 August 2008. 
  29. ^ Paul Ellis, Big effort from little men, Australian Auto Action, 11 December 1992, page 34

External links[edit]