R.A-S.H: The Yugo 45/55


Hello, and greetings from Mistley. Welcome to the seventh outing for Rusty’s Archive of Showroom Hyperbole.

One criticism that might reasonably be levelled at this series is the higher than average level of snarkiness that I direct at the material I’m supposed to be objectively discussing. Well, I assure you that the level of snark I dole out has a proportional relationship with the amount of spin that the manufacturer applies to his publicity material.

Ergo; Bullshit Detected  ≥ Snark.

Sometimes, though, a subject presents itself which is lower hanging than the very fattest, juiciest fruits. Snark is barely even necessary when a car and its brochure is almost self-ridiculing. Time, then, for the Zastava Yugo.


“Everything a new car should be”.

Ok, we’ll let the first one go.

“Up to the minute design isn’t the only thing that sets the Yugo apart from the crowd. Advanced engineering gives responsive handling and crisp performance.”

I’m not going to say anything. I’ll merely allow time for the gravity of the above two sentences to sink in.

OK, I am going to say something. No, no I’m not.

“Put any Yugo through it’s paces and you’ll soon discover you’re driving one of the best all-rounders on the road today.”

Well, to be honest this isn’t even a lie;  at least if we assume they’re talking about comparisons within an extremely strict set of budget parameters, and excluding second-hand cars. Infact, they’re not saying  the best, anyway. Could be tenth best, or thousandth best. Clever writing.

“First class travel, wherever you go”

OK, what kind of cheap-arse airline do you fly?

“The special order GL version adds a sporty finish, with a comprehensive array of features including alloy wheels, low profile tyres, front air dam, rear spoiler, near side exterior mirror, twin fog lamps, rear mudflaps and digital clock”.

This was quite a mouth-watering array of bits ‘n bobs, and a digital clock is a noble feature indeed for your budget car in 1985.

Alas, the main problem faced by this brochure was the inescapable fact that the Yugo 45 (and Koral that arose from it) was basically a thinly disguised Fiat 127, a car that had been produced since dinosaurs roamed the earth. The 45GL, and throbbingly up-engined (1.3 litre) 55GLS were the top-spec models and hence wore the aforementioned trinkets.


But it was a bit cruel to dress such a humdrum (if quite honest and unpretentious) machine in such a gaudy get-up. The spangly plastic addenda; wheelarch extensions, side skirts and “aerodynamic” appendages did nothing but weigh the car down and peel off in the automatic car wash (a friend of mine’s parents had one when I was at school, and that was exactly what happened to it). It was silly and unconvincing, in the same way that my Grandmother wouldn’t fool anybody if she turned up at the commonwealth games wearing a Nike leotard.

The whole brochure reads as a paean for the easily-led. Many an elderly, impressionable or naive personage could be quite merrily taken in by a publication that plays the emotions by claiming:

“..First past the flag on speed, performance, good looks and sheer indomitable spirit”.


And they were masters of context. Witness their expert use of an excerpt from an Autocar review:

“Performance is right up to expectation”.

I’d quite like to have a go in one of these; I’ve only ever sat shotgun. But if it never happens, well, at least I own the brochure.

<Disclaimer:- All photos were taken by the author and are of genuine original manufacturer publicity material, resting on the bonnet of a 1998 Audi A4, before the snow proved too much. All copyright rights remain in the possession of the manufacturer, who currently don’t really exsist so we can pretty much say as we like>

About RoadworkUK

RoadworkUK is the online persona of Gianni Hirsch, a tall, awkward gentleman with a home office full of gently decomposing paper and a garage full of worthless scrap metal. He lives in the village of Moistly, which is a safe distance from London and is surrounded by enough water and scenery to be interesting. In another life, he has designed, sold, worked on and written about cars in exchange for small quantities of money.


  1. “What makes Yugo everything a new car should be” – And they show a picture of a steering wheel and an engine. Yes, I agree, every car should have those. That's setting the bar awfully low though.

  2. I'm a bit intimidated by the level of manliness needed to contend with the sporty and opulent GLS. Not to mention being able to push it up all the hills around here.

  3. Wait wait wait, what's this Yugo 3 & 5 series that looks like a thinly disguised '81 Toyota Tercel?
    Ironically, you can get a new Lada Niva in the UK with that blanked out side window. UK registrars call it a "van" and give you a tax break if used for commercial purposes.

  4. The 3- and 5-series? Cool. Yugo really was the Balkan BMW.
    The 7-series was presumably the Yugo Florida.

  5. “Everything a new car should be”.
    Ok, we’ll let the first one go.
    Hooniverse owes my employer a new keyboard…

  6. You need the proper context, while the Yugo was risible in comparison to a Peugeot 205 or Honda Civic, it was a major step up from a Trabant.

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