The Isuzu Piazza, a small sporty 3-door liftback coupe (marketed as Isuzu Impulse in US and as Holden Piazza in Australia) was first introduced in 1980. It remained in production for two generation from 1980 to 1992. It was given the name Holden Piazza in Australia because it was sold there by Holden which was the local division of Isuzu’s parent company, General Motors.
It was launched as a rear-wheel drive and the first Isuzu vehicle widely sold in the United Kingdom.
The second generation Piazza was introduced as front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive (4WD) configuration. It led the basis for the Gemini Coupe (Geo Storm in United States).
In 2010, the numbers of registered Impulses were found to be 2,300 which make the Impulse a rare vehicle.
First Generation (1980-1990)
Giorgetto Giugiaro was assigned a duty to design a new sporty car in 1978 to take the place of 117 Coupe.
In September 1980, the first Piazza with rear-wheel drive configuration was launched in Fujisawa, Japan. It was powered by two engines, i.e. a 120 hp (89 kW), 120 lb-ft (163 Nm) 2.0 L SOHC I4 engine and a 135 hp (101 kW), 123 lb-ft (167 Nm) 2.0 L DOHC I4 engine. Both engines were mated to either a 5-speed manual or a 4-speed automatic transmission. A 180 hp (134 kW), 185 lb-ft (251 Nm) turbocharged SOHC I4 engine was added in the lineup in 1985. A wide range of trim levels were available for Piazza including Bella, XN, XJ, XE, XG Nero, and certain others. As for suspension, it was offered with three suspension tuning levels, i.e. standard, Irmscher and Lotus. It remained in production until 1990.
In 1983, the Piazza was launched in the United States as the Impulse. For the initial two year, it was equipped with a 2.0-L SOHC I4 engine delivering 90hp (67 kW) and torque of 108lb-ft (146 Nm). The turbocharged model with 2.0-L SOHC I4 engine generating 140 hp (104 kW) and 166 lb-ft (225 Nm) of torque was added in 1985. All the Impulses offered in US market came with a Lotus-tuned suspension which was based on revised sway bars, stiffer dampers and recalculated spring rates.
Second Generation (1990-1993)
The second generation Impulse was based on General Motors’ second generation R-body ‘world car’ platform. This 3-door hatchback was launched in 1989 as 1990 model year under Impulse XS name. Available in front-wheel drive configuration, it was equipped with a DOHC 1.6-L (1588 cc) I4 engine producing 130 hp (97 kW). As for suspension, it featured a MacPherson struts with a rigid trailing arm on front, while on rear it used a multilink suspension with Nishiboric passive steering.
The 1991 model year came as Impulse RS and equipped with a 160 hp (119 kW) turbocharged engine and four-wheel drive configuration. The drivetrain offered front and rear viscous differentials and center helical differential. In 1991, Isuzu also released a wagonback version equipped with normally aspirated 1.6-L engine.
The turbo model was withdrawn in 1992 and the base engine was also substituted with a 1.8-L (1809 cc) engine. The engine offered the same bore but longer stroke because of taller engine block. The engine was capable of generating 140 hp (104 kW) and 125 lb-ft (169 Nm) of torque.