Considered as a rare vehicle from the 80s, the Isuzu Impulse was sold and produced in the United States from 1981 to 1992. In other parts of the world, such as in its home country Japan, the Impulse was known as the Isuzu Piazza. On the other hand, this model was sold under General Motors’ Holden division in Australia. To know more about this vehicle, below is a quick look at the changes and transformations that this 3-door liftback coupe underwent through the years.
Design and development: 1978-1979
The design and development of the Isuzu Impulse began in 1978 under the supervision of Giorgetto Giugiaro of Italdesign. He was given the task of creating a replacement for the Isuzu 117 coupe—a vehicle which he also designed. The prototype for the Impulse was first showcased at the 1979 Tokyo Motor Show and it was dubbed the “Ace of Clubs.” It was a three-door hatchback that looked very unique with its distinct wedge-shaped design. The prototype received positive reviews and Isuzu started its production shortly after with only minor revisions done to the concept car.
First generation: 1980-1990
The Isuzu Impulse was first released in Japan as the Isuzu Piazza in 1980. Upon initial release, this rear-wheel drive vehicle was powered by either a 2.0 L SOHC MPFI I4 engine or a 2.0 L DOHC MPFI I4 engine. It also made available with a 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic transmission. In 1984, a turbocharged SOHC I4 engine was added to the lineup while the DOHC engine was eventually dropped.
Three years after its release in the Japan, the Piazza reached the United States where it was introduced as the Isuzu Impulse. The American release was furnished with a 2.0 L SOHC I4 engine, which could churn out up to 90 hp and it was made available in two trim levels—Turbo and non-turbo. Two years after, a turbocharged engine was released while a 4ZC1 turbo engine appeared in 1987. In 1988, the Impulse received several upgrades inside and out. For instance, the model was equipped with a bigger rear spoiler and fixed headlights were also added. The non-turbo engine, on the other hand, was dropped and it was replaced with a 2.3 L SOHC I4 engine that could produce up to 110 hp.
Second generation: 1990-1993
Released in 1990, the second generation Isuzu Impulse was created based on the second generation of General Motors’ R-body world platform. The 3-door Impulse XS hatchback was a front-wheel drive vehicle powered by a 1.6 L DOHC I4 engine that could churn out up to 130 hp. Its front and rear suspension was equipped with MacPherson struts and its rear suspension utilized Nishiboric passive steering. The Impulse RS was released the following year and it was an all-wheel drive that was equipped with a turbocharged engine. In the end over 13,000 Impulse units were produced and over 2,300 of these are currently registered, making it extremely rare.