Zastava Yugo 45, 55 and 65 (1980 – 2008) Review

Zastava Yugo 45, 55 and 65 (1980 – 2008) At A Glance


+Boxy little hatchback with plenty of 1980s appeal, far more appealing than most Eastern Bloc alternatives, some parts shared with Fiat

-Rusty, flimsy, dreadful gearchange and heavy steering, loses some of the magic of the small Fiat it was based upon

The Yugo 45 arrived on the UK market at the beginning of 1984, just as the supermini market was undergoing a revolution - leaving it left behind, most notably by the 1983 Fiat Uno, which was clearly a product of a younger, more advanced generation. The ItalDesign-styled hatchback, based heavily on Fiat 127 running gear was developed in Italy, but ended up being built in Yugoslavia and sold all over the world - including the USA. Engine range mirrored that of Fiat, so it was offered in 903, 1116 and 1301cc forms. Being based on the 127 and assembled in Yugoslavia meant that this supermini was seriously cheap - and even in the most well-equipped guises, it undercut entry-level mainstream rivals by quite some margin. It was only offered in two body variations - the standard three-door hatchback, and a two-door convertible version, available with power hood.

But the Yugo was cheap for a reason - it was flimsy and poorly made, and despite the promise of plenty of the 127's joie de vivre, the 45 and its more powerful cousins failed to excite buyers. In the UK, sales of the pert little hatchback were steady throughout the 1980s, but in 1991, and with the Balkan War in full swing, imports ceased, with the final few examples being sold for a bargain basement £2999, making it by far Britain's cheapest new car. In the USA, it was also the cheapest car you could buy at $3990, but the Americans saw it as a joke, and failed to buy it in big numbers. But in its home market, the Zastava Koral as it's known there, remained in production until 2008.

Link to Owners Club