We use cookies on whatcar.com to improve your browsing experience and to provide you with relevant content and advertising, by continuing to use our site you agree to this. Please see our privacy policy for more details. Continue

What Car? says

2 out of 5 stars

For The Justy is the only four-wheel-drive supermini (of a certain age) you can buy

Against Ride and refinement are poor, the boot is tiny

Verdict Only good if you really need four-wheel drive

Go for… Five-door

Avoid… Three-door

Subaru Justy Hatchback
  • 1. Look out for any sign of a cracked cylinder head, which means a costly full engine rebuild
  • 2. Rust can take hold easily, so look out for bubbling under the paintwork
  • 3. Check for uneven tyre wear, which can indicate suspension or steering faults
  • 4. Check for faults with the four-wheel drive system, as it can be costly to repair
  • 5. The interior is plasticky, and the four-wheel-drive hardware robs the rear cabin and boot of space
advertisement

Subaru Justy Hatchback full review with expert trade views

Superminis and 4x4s are two areas of the market that don’t often cross over. There’s a good reason for this – it gives rise to cars such as the Subaru Justy.

True, in slippery conditions, the standard four-wheel drive is a boon, but on Tarmac there are plenty of better superminis that are far more talented, and will cost you less.

The Justy is based on the old Suzuki Swift, and that doesn’t give it the best of starts. There’s plenty of grip, but the handling is poor and the ride is even worse. To cap it all, the small engine offers only mediocre response, and refinement isn’t good.

The interior is plasticky, too, and the four-wheel-drive hardware robs the rear cabin and boot of space. It’s not particularly cheap, it’s not particularly well equipped and it’s not much to look at. If you don’t need four-wheel drive, don’t touch it with a bargepole.

Trade view

Martin Keighley

Small hatch with poor fuel consumption. Still quite a following. Values steady due to rarity

Martin Keighley
Valuations expert,
What Car? Used Car Price Guide

You only have one choice to make, because there are three- and five-door variants available. Neither is particularly spacious, but the five-door is marginally easier to load passengers into. It also has central locking, while the three-door doesn’t.

No matter how many doors you have, though, the car will be a 1.3 GX. The engine is the same as the 1.3 in the Suzuki Swift, and gives 67bhp. However, where this is tolerable in the Swift, the added weight of all that off-roading hardware in the Justy means the car is slower, noisier and less economical. It’ll take you around 14 seconds to get to 60mph, and while this isn’t too unrealistic in terms of time, getting there will be a very noisy affair.

The sole GX trim provides only basic kit. You’ll get power steering, electrically adjusting mirrors, an immobiliser, twin front airbags, split folding rear seats and a radio cassette, but that's pretty much it.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Very specific market for these and needs to be a five door to sell

James Ruppert
Used car guru

In comparison with similar cars of the day, it is expensive to run. Four-wheel drive never comes cheap, even when it’s in a car as small as this.

The Suzuki Swift, for example, is mechanically identical to the Justy, apart from the four-wheel drive. The big difference is that you can pick up a Swift much, much cheaper than you can a Justy.

The extra weight of all that gear also has a big impact on fuel economy. Where the Swift returns a very reasonable average of 47.9mpg, the Justy can only manage a comparatively paltry 40.9mpg.

You’ll pay a group 6 insurance premium, the same as you will in the 1.3 version of the Swift, but this isn’t particularly competitive when compared with other cars in the class.

Servicing will be cheaper than the Swift, though, because it needs to be looked at every 12,000 miles, rather than every 6000 for the Suzuki.

Trade view

Martin Keighley

Small hatch with poor fuel consumption. Still quite a following. Values steady due to rarity

Martin Keighley
Valuations expert,
What Car? Used Car Price Guide

Very few of these cars were sold – for very good reason – so despite the Justy’s age, it’s hard to build up a detailed picture of how reliable they are going to be. However, one thing we have noticed from owners’ reports is that the engine’s cylinder head can crack, which can be a very costly fix because it means a full engine rebuild.

The Swift sold more units, so we have more idea of the areas of concern with this car. Since the two are largely identical, some lessons can be learned. Rust can take hold easily, so look out for bubbling under the paintwork. The steering and suspension need regular upkeep as well, so check for uneven tyre wear and unusual noises from underneath.

Bear in mind, though, that if anything goes wrong with the Justy’s transmission, the fact that it’s four-wheel drive will probably mean an abnormally high repair bill.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Very specific market for these and needs to be a five door to sell

James Ruppert
Used car guru
Haymarket Logo What Car? is brought to you by Haymarket Consumer Media
What Car? is part of Haymarket Motoring
© Haymarket Media Group 2014