Motor World Review, August 1988
Model Year-In-Review Edition
(Znopresk has missed 2 rounds in a row and will be given a 1 point penalty to their overall competition RR. Also, due to the number of entries in Sport this time around, that category gets pretty brutal. The market is definitely oversaturated, working to the detriment of many.)
Best Entry-level Car – 1988
Everette Winthrop R4
Relative Rating: 100.00
A great car doesn’t have to be an expensive one. The Everette Winthrop R4 is a great example of careful design and manufacturing, delivered at an affordable price.
This 3-door hatchback combines versatility and grace with driving habits one might expect from a larger vehicle. Standard under the hood is one of our favorite engines this year, the 91 horsepower, 2.0 liter 4LAB-L20M. This is mated to a tried-and-true 4-speed manual transmission. Everette touts 28 miles per gallon combined in this configuration, and our testing resulted in numbers almost exactly on the mark.
The rear hatch opens quite high, with only a small lip to carry heavy loads over. The full-cloth seats lean and slide forward with the push of a lever, allowing easy access for rear passengers. The radio includes a cassette deck, which is a nice touch on such a simple car.
And one of the greatest shining spots for the Winthrop is its projected reliability. This platform has been around since 1980, with regular styling refreshes. Repair history data shows that the Winthrop is on top for reliability, and there’s no reason to expect that this year’s model will suddenly break that streak.
Best Upscale Car – 1988
PMI Usurper Sabre V8 Touring
Relative Rating: 100.00
PMI would like to remind everyone that the art of the V8 is not dead. At least not yet.
206 horsepower is stuffed under the hood of the Usurper Sabre, coming from a 5.0 V8 with throttle body injection. While not up to snuff with competitors in the fuel economy department, this motor does a far, far better job of going far than its ancestors.
The Sabre is a personal luxury coupe, designed with comfort and precision in mind. It gives drivers a smooth, confident ride, while wrapping them in upscale trappings.
Our test car came with premium pillowed woven cloth seats with adjustable lumbar support, a 4-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission, alloy wheels, and a full host of powered components. A digitally-tuned 4-speaker AM/FM stereo with cassette was also present, though we were a little disappointed that it didn’t come with equalizer controls.
In recent crash tests, the Usurper Sabre garnered high marks, near the top of its class. This adds to the overall value of the car; while it’s not the cheapest, it’s definitely well worth the money.
Best Sport Car – 1988
LMC Maladus M150
Relative Rating: 97.50
The LMC Maladus is the kind of sports car that you can have fun with and be proud of, as well as reasonably commute to work in (assuming your salary supports it, of course.)
308 horsepower and tight cornering easily fits the bill for the fun factor. The Maladus can wind up to 60 mph is just 5.5 seconds, thanks to meaty tires and a limited slip differential. And it passed our slalom tests with a brain-splattering 1.07g lateral. And on the street, the Maladus handles with confidence and ease not expected from a hardcore sports car.
A lot of times this kind of performance comes at the expense of the driver’s spine. But LMC equipped this cool beast with standard leatherette seats, power windows and locks, air conditioning, and a 4-speaker AM/FM/Cassette stereo, for when you need to blast a little Van Halen.
LMC’s structural architecture improvements also led the Maladus to get high marks on crash testing scores. Plus it’s surprisingly easy on gas, getting only 4 MPG less than a V6 equipped Ardent Sentinel.
Best Utility – 1988
Vermillion V100 TorqueFiend
Relative Rating: 100.00
Aptly named, the trim of Vermillion V100 we were given as a tester was, indeed, a torque fiend. 352 lb-ft to be exact. So what do you do with all of that grunt?
Well, if you’re a mature, responsible reporting outfit like us, there’s only one thing to do. Pull stumps out of the ground, just because you can. And boy, can it.
The V100 joins the fray with such vaunted names as Deer and Hunt and RCM (Formerly Dominion) in building a truck that is tough, durable, capable of going anywhere, and obscenely strong.
Oh, and don’t tell anyone, but we may have brought a few George Strait cassettes and played them on the stereo while we were being “responsible” out in the woods.
Best Engine – 1988 - TIE
Everette 4LAB-L20M and Deer&Hunt 4.3L V6
(+5% relative rating bonus for D&H, no bonus for Everett due to already having a max rating)
This year we have a tie for best engine.
First is the 4LAB-L20M from Fenton/Everette. This 2 liter 4-cylinder is our favorite small motor out of the bunch this year. Putting out 91 HP and 111 lb-ft of torque, it does a good job of powering the Winthrop R4, and keeping fuel costs down through efficiency. As well, it looks to be a motor that will give many years of reliable service.
The second choice is Deer and Hunt’s 4.3 liter V6, from their SuperCoupe. With 183 horses and 227 lb-ft of torque, it’s a good choice for the car. Throttle response is smooth, and long-term testing shows it to be among the most reliable option available.
Sedan Class Reviews
Kimura Avina BXi
Relative Rating: 95.45
“…good, reliable gas-sipper. We preferred the Everette, though, because of the Kimura’s somewhat cramped and cheap-feeling interior…”
Pros: Low purchase price, good fuel economy, great reliability
Cons: Poor comfort, poor drivability
Maesma Celento Tz 2.0
Relative Rating: 93.18
“…for a bargain-basement price, you get a safe, easy to maintain vehicle. The fuel economy is pretty abhorrent for an inexpensive commuter, however, and it’s not as comfortable as our top pick either…”
Pros: Low purchase price, low maintenance cost, high drivability
Cons: Poor reliability, poor fuel economy, mediocre comfort
Rado Superior 191A Value
Relative Rating: 97.73
“…the level of comfort and quality in the Superior shows just how far Rado has come from their embarassing roots. Road manners do leave something to be desired, however…”
Pros: High reliability, best in class comfort, reasonable fuel economy
Cons: Poor drivability
Upscale Class Reviews
Ardent Silver Sentinel
Relative Rating: 92.75
“…one of the best performing premium sedans you can get (our tester was the only one in the group equipped with a manual transmission), and fuel economy is good to boot. Unfortunately the aging platform leads to some safety concerns, and Ardent’s image doesn’t exactly stand up to the “premium” moniker…”
Pros: Great fuel economy, great performance, lowest in class purchase price, best in class reliability
Cons: Poor safety, poor drivability, low prestige
Erin Berlose Vox 2.8
Relative Rating: 91.30
“…very comfortable sedan powered by a silky-smooth 2.8L straight-6. Its steep starting price and lack of distinguishing features makes us wonder about the value…”
Pros: High comfort, high safety, low maintenance cost
Cons: Poor drivability, poor fuel economy, mediocre value
RCM Regal LXI Touring 4WD
Relative Rating: 95.65
“…delightful, cloud-like drive wrapped in leather. It’s easy to see with the detail in material that was put in why the Regal has such a high sticker price…”
Pros: Great drivability, high comfort, best in class safety
Cons: Highest in class purchase price, high maintenance cost
Grehet Mytheme Road
Relative Rating: 89.86
“…the only car in the group whose track performance is better than the Ardent’s, and done so with an automatic transmission. However, the interior is just not comfortable for long trips, and there are concerns with long term reliability…”
Pros: Great performance, prestigious model, good drivability
Cons: Poor reliability, poor economy, high maintenance cost
Deer and Hunt SuperCoupe
Relative Rating: 97.75 (after bonus)
“…very well matched V6 engine and advanced, electronically controlled transmission. This personal coupe shines in many areas, though it’s not as comfortable as we’d like, and reliability tests show it to be on par with the Grehet Mytheme…”
Pros: Engine of the Year, very sporty, prestigious model, good drivability, low purchase price
Cons: Poor reliability, poor comfort, poor economy
Olympus Libra LX
Relative Rating: 92.75
“…superb road manners and fuel economy. The engine is a touch underpowered, however, and the biggest thing holding it back is the projected reliability…”
Pros: Great drivability, great fuel economy, high comfort, high safety
Cons: Worst in round reliability, underpowered engine
Sport Class Reviews
ACA Traveller STO
Relative Rating: 82.14
“…in a crowded field, the Traveller fails to distinguish itself in any positive way beyond above average reliability. Its high cost and poor comfort are, however, quite notable…”
Pros: Good reliability
Cons: Poor comfort, high purchase price, mediocre stats
Keika Katana 2400
Relative Rating: 94.05
“…it should be illegal to have this much fun, yet the Katana is perfectly road legal. It’s very affordable, too…”
Pros: Excellent performance, lowest in class purchase price, low maintenance cost, outstanding fuel economy, great reliability
Cons: Poor safety, poor comfort, poor drivability
Epoch M50 Turbo
Relative Rating: 83.33
“…being inexpensive and quirky just isn’t enough to forgive the M50 for its glaring deficiencies when stacked up against the competition…”
Pros: Low purchase price, good comfort, good fuel economy, low mainenance cost
Cons: Worst in class drivability, poor reliability, tepid performance, poor cornering
Sinistra Sunbolt XR-300
Relative Rating: 90.48
“…unique rear-engine Sinistra departs radically from what we’re used to seeing from them. It makes a decent alternative to the LMC Maladus, but we found some flaws when comparing the two…”
Pros: Great performance, great handling, good fuel economy, good safety, good drivability
Cons: High purchase price, high maintenance cost, poor reliability, poor comfort
Caliban Type SC TO
Relative Rating: 85.71
“…just doesn’t have the value or charm of the Keika Katana, although its everyday road manners are a bit better…”
Pros: Good drivability, great cornering, great performance, good reliability
Cons: High maintenance cost, mediocre economy, worst in round comfort, poor prestige, poor safety
TSR Angel S
Relative Rating: 80.95
“…the first sports car we’ve seen from TSR that’s affordable to the Average Joe. Unfortunately, its release comes at a poor time, with the floodgates of sports cars have opened…”
Pros: Good drivability, good fuel economy,low maintenance cost
Cons: Lackluster performance, poor reliability, poor comfort, unable to distinguish itself from competition
Bogliq Nihilist Empower 700AE
Relative Rating: 82.14
“…Bogliq triest its hand at becoming a sports car superpower with a 7.0 liter V8 in a sleek coupe. The bid unfortunately doesn’t work, as Bogliq’s usually reasonable pricing just isn’t there…”
Pros: Great performance, prestigious model, high sportiness
Cons: Very high purchase price, poor fuel economy, poor reliability, poor drivability
Sakura Deva Turbo 200
Relative Rating: 94.05
“…the car that will be dreamt of by teenagers and corporate executives alike. That’s right, the Deva Turbo has exceeded a previously unheard of barrier of 200 MPH in top speed trials…”
Pros: Ludicrous speed, extreme prestige, good drivability, great safety
Cons: Extremely expensive to purchase and maintain, abhorrent fuel economy (subject to US gas guzzler tax), poor reliability
Relative Rating: 76.62 (after penalty)
FIXTURE VIOLATIONS: No rear side markers, no aerial for radio
“…for an entry-level sports car, there are numerous better options. Even its low price can’t save it…”
Pros: Low purchase price, low maintenance cost, good fuel economy
Cons: Lackluster performance, poor drivability, poor comfort, poor cornering, poor reliability
Utility Class Reviews
IP Brigadeer VIP 4x4
Relative Rating: 93.83
“…high-class off-road capacity. We imagine owners of the Brigadeer might want a deluxe yurt for camping excursions. The good news is the Brigadeer can easily carry one…”
Pros: Good drivability, very comfortable, best in class economy, good offroad, good utility
Cons: High purchase and maintenance cost, poor reliability