Geo Metro

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Geo Metro
97 Geo Metro.jpg
Manufacturer CAMI Automotive (1989–1994)
General Motors (1995–2001)
Body and chassis
Class Supermini
Predecessor Chevrolet Chevette
Chevrolet Sprint/Sprint Metro
Successor Chevrolet Aveo

The Geo Metro was a marketing and manufacturing variation of the Suzuki Cultus available in North America from 1989 through 2001 as a joint effort of General Motors (GM) and Suzuki. In the US, the Metro carried a Geo nameplate from 1989 through 1997, and a Chevrolet nameplate from 1998 to 2001. It evolved with the Cultus and its siblings over 13 years, three generations and four body styles: three-door hatchback, four-door sedan, five-door hatchback and two-door convertible—and was ultimately replaced in the General Motors lineup by a family of vehicles based on the Daewoo Kalos.


From 1985 through 1989, Cultus-derived models sold in North America—under the nameplates Suzuki Forsa, Suzuki Swift, Chevrolet Sprint, Geo Metro and Pontiac Firefly—were sourced from Suzuki's facilities in Japan. Beginning in 1990, all North American M-cars were produced at CAMI Automotive, a 50–50 joint venture between General Motors and Suzuki in Ingersoll, Ontario, Canada, although Japanese production continued to source Canada bound sedan models. CAMI never reached its intended Metro/Firefly/Swift capacity. [1] While at its peak, Canadian Swift/Metro/Firefly production reached more than 100,000 vehicles a year, the number fell to just 32,000 in 2000. [2] In response to the waning popularity of smaller automobiles in the North American markets, Chevrolet/Geo sold only 55,600 Metros in 1997, off from 88,700 the year before. [3] In a 2004 Autoweek article, Osamu Suzuki, chairman of Suzuki, called CAMI "a fishbone in my throat" because of its low production. [1]

Beginning in late 2003 as a model year 2004 car, the Daewoo Kalos, marketed variously as the Chevrolet Aveo, Pontiac Wave and Suzuki Swift+, effectively replaced the Metro/Firefly, although the Aveo is more of a Daewoo Lanos replacement as opposed to the Metro, the same time when Daewoo closed majority of its dealerships outside South Korea in 2002.

The Suzuki Swift was replaced by the Suzuki Aerio hatchback in 2002, although the Aerio also replaced the Suzuki Esteem.

Chevrolet Sprint

GM began marketing the first generation Cultus in North America as the Chevrolet Sprint. The car was also sold as the Suzuki Forsa, and as the Pontiac Firefly in Canada. The Chevrolet Sprint was sold only in the Western United States until 1986, when nationwide sales in the US commenced. in 1987, the "Metro" name first appeared on a model of the naturally aspirated Chevrolet Sprint: the "Chevrolet Sprint Metro."

First generation

1992 Metro convertible 1992 Geo Metro convertible 01.jpg
1992 Metro convertible

Production of the first Geo Metro models, equivalent to the second generation Suzuki Cultus, began at Suzuki's plant in Hamamatsu, Japan, in late 1988. In 1989, it debuted and replaced the Chevrolet Sprint in the United States. Canadian models continued with the Chevrolet Sprint and Pontiac Firefly nameplates, while the second generation Suzuki Swift replaced the Forsa nameplate. This generation was also marketed by Suzuki as the "Swift" in the United States. The Metro/Swift/Sprint lineup received a facelift, while the Firefly was temporarily discontinued. The first generation Metro was replaced by a rebodied model unique to the North American market.

Some preproduction models were handmade, and featured 5-digit odometers.

Second generation (1995–2001)

Second generation
Chevrolet Metro sedan.jpg
Also calledGeo Metro (1995–1997)
Chevrolet Metro (1998–2001)
Pontiac Firefly (Canada)
Suzuki Swift
Model years 1995–2001
AssemblyCanada: Ingersoll, Ontario
Body and chassis
Body style 3-door hatchback
4-door sedan
Layout Transverse front-engine, front-wheel drive
Platform M platform
Engine 1.0 L LP2 I3 (gasoline)
1.3 L L72 I4 (gasoline)
1.3 L LY8 I4 (gasoline)
Transmission 5-speed manual
3-speed MX17 automatic
Wheelbase 93.1 in (2,365 mm)
Length149.4 in (3,795 mm) (hatchback)
164.0 in (4,166 mm) (sedan)
Width62.6 in (1,590 mm)
Height54.7 in (1,389 mm) (hatchback)
55.4 in (1,407 mm) (sedan)

In 1995, the second generation of the Sprint/Metro line in North America—which was the third generation North American "Cultus"—was introduced as a three-door hatchback and four-door sedan, using an adaptation of the longer wheelbase platform from the second generation Cultus for both body configurations. Also designed at GM's Design Center, it carried styling cues similar from the bigger Chevrolet Cavalier [4] and was built on the Suzuki developed M platform with Suzuki drivetrains. These models were marketed only in North America, carrying the nameplates Geo Metro (rebranded the Chevrolet Metro starting in the 1998 model year), Pontiac Firefly, and Suzuki Swift—and sourced only from CAMI Automotive. Thus this version was never sold as a Cultus, which was replaced by the Cultus Crescent in Japan. Production ended after model year 2001.

The Chevrolet Metro was used in the 17th Biennale of Sydney (2010) exhibition in an experiment made by Cai Guo-Qiang, a Chinese artist from Fujian, where nine Chevrolet Metros were suspended in the air through animation.

Comparison of Generation II/I 3-door hatchback interior dimensions:

Gen IGen II
Front Headroom (in.)37.8039.10
Rear Headroom (in.)36.5036.00
Front Legroom (in.)42.5042.50
Rear Legroom (in.)29.8032.80

The second generation Metro featured two engine options. The three-cylinder, 1.0-liter throttle body injected engine, still used on base models, was available for non-LSi models in 1997. The 1.0-liter became the last engine on a vehicle available in the US to use TBI. This generation also offered a revised 1.3-liter inline four-cylinder engine used in the Pontiac Firefly, with multi-point fuel injection (with hydraulic lifters and lash adjusters, and a 30,000-mile service interval). [5] The 1.3-liter inline-four engine offered 70 hp (52 kW), and was the same engine that had been in use in the Suzuki Swift (except for the GT models) in prior years. LSi models produced after 1997 featured the four-cylinder engine with a sixteen-valve head instead of the eight valves of the earlier design, yet was still a SOHC design.

It produced 79 hp (59 kW). Contemporary Suzuki Swifts were available with only the four-cylinder, and only as a hatchback. The hatchback body configuration featured a three-inch lower liftover height compared to the previous generation model. [5] Safety equipment included optional anti-lock brakes, safety cage construction with deformable front and rear crush zones and five structural crossbars engineered to spread side impact loads throughout the car's structure, [5] steel side impact door safety beams, [6] and daytime running lights (the second generation Metro was the second GM car to offer DRLs in the United States—the 1995 Chevrolet Corsica was the first)—and dual frontal airbags. The Saturn S-series had DRLs beginning in 1994

A new, one-piece instrument panel was mounted to one of the five crossmembers with a new, full seal filling the gap between the instrument panel and the dash. [5] The sedan and coupe chassis were 20% and 5% stiffer respectively than the previous generation 5-door and coupe Metros, [5] and at the time of its introduction, the Metro was the smallest car in the world to meet the impending 1997 North American side impact standards. [5] The revised sedan was also introduced in the United States, replacing the 5-door hatchback. This generation featured a coefficient of drag of 0.32. [6]

Its twins, Pontiac Firefly and Suzuki Swift featured the same redesign. At the introduction of this generation, GM arranged for a car carrier with 1995 Metros to drive to college campuses across the country. Local writers took a half-day seminar at "Metro University" with the head product planner and senior members of the engineering, assembly, and marketing teams. [5]

At the time this generation was introduced, 41 percent of Metro buyers were first-car buyers, 62 percent of the buyers were female, and the median age of a Metro buyer was 37. [5]

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) named this generation of Chevrolet Metro and Suzuki Swift as the top two gasoline-fueled vehicles within their Top 12 Greenest Vehicles in 1998 and 1999. ACEEE assigns a Green Score to each vehicle make and model sold in the US, based on the vehicles' exhaust emissions, fuel economy and other specifications. [7] [8] [9]

Solectria, a Massachusetts company, converted examples of the first and second generation Geo Metro to electric operation. Approximately 500 examples of 1996 and 1997 models were converted to electric operation—the bare vehicles were provided by GM without engines. Called the Solectria Force and Solectria EV, the converted vehicles featured 3 phase AC induction motors and regenerative braking. The battery pack consists of 13 Group 27 Decca Dominator Sealed Gel Lead Acid modules. [10]

1995–2000Suzuki SwiftN. America3
1995–2000 Pontiac Firefly Canada3/4
1995–1997 Geo Metro N. America3/4
1998–2001 Chevrolet Metro N. America3/4

3= 3-dr hatchback
4= 4-dr sedan


US second generation models received the following NHTSA's New Car Assessment Program ratings:

Test numbers indicate the chance of serious injury: 4 = 10–20%

Fuel economy

"As gas prices spike and consumers increasingly look for ways to get to work more efficiently, heavy media coverage has spurred interest in one particular old car: the Geo Metro."

US News, 2008 [11]

In North America, the Metro received increased interest as a used car in 2008, by virtue of its fuel mileage and rising fuel costs. [11] [12] [13] [14] [15] [16]

Partially because of the renewed interest in the Metro, the July 2009 issue of Car and Driver included a base model 1998 Chevrolet Metro 3-door hatchback among vehicles tested for fuel efficiency alongside two hybrid models: the redesigned Honda Insight and Toyota Prius models. Car and Driver yet jokingly ridiculed the Metro's age and equipment, docking seven points from its overall score for its lack of amenities and mentioning that it was originally sold brand-new without hubcaps. Regardless, the Metro tied the Prius for best overall fuel economy at 42 mpgUS (5.6 l/100 km). The vehicle finished third overall behind the Insight and Prius. [17]

The vehicle is often used as a test-bed to field various fuel efficiency technology, such as the 2007 university based Cornell 100+ MPG Team. [18]

Related Research Articles

Geo was a marque of small cars and SUVs marketed by General Motors as a subdivision of its Chevrolet division from 1989 to 2004. However, for the 1998 model year, the Metro, Prizm, and Tracker were sold as Chevrolet until their discontinuance in 2001, 2002, and 2004, respectively. In this sense, Geo existed until 2004, even with the Geo nameplate being dropped in mid-1997. Its original slogan was "Get to know Geo" and commercials often featured the song "Getting to Know You" from the musical The King and I. Formed by GM to compete with the growing small import market of the mid 1980s, the Geo nameplate continued through the 1997 model year, after which the remaining models were marketed under the Chevrolet name. In the 1990s consumer interest in the economy compact market faded, and the last vehicle of the former Geo line, the Tracker, was discontinued in 2016. In Canada, another import marque, Asüna, was introduced in 1992 to provide Pontiac-Buick-GMC dealers access to a similar range of import vehicles.

Rebranding (automobile) Changing badges of the same car

Rebranding in the automotive industry is a form of market segmentation used by automobile manufacturers around the world. To allow for product differentiation without designing or engineering a new model or brand, a manufacturer creates a distinct automobile by applying a new badge or trademark to an existing product line.

Chevrolet Citation Motor vehicle

The Chevrolet Citation is a range of compact cars that was produced by the Chevrolet division of General Motors. The first Chevrolet sold with front-wheel drive, a single generation of the Citation was sold from the 1980 to 1985 model years, succeeding the Chevrolet Nova. The model range was offered in three body styles: three-door and five-door hatchbacks and a two-door notchback coupe.

Chevrolet Aveo (T200) Motor vehicle

The Chevrolet Aveo (T200) is the first generation of the Chevrolet Aveo, a subcompact automobile from the Chevrolet division of the American manufacturer General Motors, launched in 2002, developed by the initially independent South Korean manufacturer Daewoo, later GM Korea. It was originally marketed as the Daewoo Kalos and prominently marketed as the Aveo. The model received the T200 internal codes during the car's development. The T250 code was designated for the model's facelift.

Subcompact car American definition to indicate an automobile with a class size smaller than that of a compact car

Subcompact car is an American classification for cars which is broadly equivalent to the B-segment (Europe) or supermini classifications, and smaller than a compact car.

Holden Barina Motor vehicle

The Holden Barina is a subcompact automobile sold between 1985 and 2018 by Holden in Australasia. Each of the six generations have been badge-engineered versions of various General Motors vehicles, namely Suzuki Cultus, Opel Corsa, and Daewoo Kalos. Barina is an Australian aboriginal word meaning "summit".

Suzuki Swift Subcompact car produced by Suzuki

The Suzuki Swift is a subcompact car produced by Suzuki. The Suzuki Swift is classified as a B-segment marque in the European single market, a segment referred to as a Supermini in British isles. Prior to this, the "Swift" nameplate had been applied to the rebadged Suzuki Cultus in numerous export markets since 1983 and became its own model since 2004.

Chevrolet Tracker (Americas) Motor vehicle

The Chevrolet Tracker, formerly the Geo Tracker, is a mini SUV produced for Chevrolet and Geo by CAMI Automotive in Ingersoll, Ontario. Although appearing as a compact SUV, the Tracker was actually certified as a Light truck due to its off-road capabilities. The Tracker was produced under many brands in several different editions and in many countries.

Geo Prizm Compact car sold under the Geo brand

The Geo/Chevrolet Prizm was a compact car derived from the Japanese domestic market Toyota Sprinter, itself a version of the Toyota Corolla. General Motors refers to the development as the S-car. Produced from 1988 to 2002, the Prizm was sold exclusively in the United States and succeeded the 1985–1988 Chevrolet Nova, which was also derived from the Sprinter.

GM M platform Motor vehicle platform

The GM M platform was the designation used by General Motors for the platform that underpinned the first, second and third generation Suzuki Cultus and its offspring.


Asüna was a captive import automobile marque created in 1992 for sale in Canada by General Motors as a counterpart to Geo. It was one of two successors to the Passport marque, which had a similar intent.

Suzuki Cultus Supermini car

The Suzuki Cultus is a supermini car produced by the Japanese manufacturer Suzuki from 1983 to 2003, and it is now a rebadged Suzuki Celerio in Pakistan since 2017. It was first presented at the 25th Tokyo Motor Show, formally introduced to Japan in 1983 and ultimately sold in seven countries across three generations and marketed worldwide as the Suzuki Swift. An alliance formed in 1981 between GM and Suzuki allowed GM to market the Cultus as a captive import internationally under more than a dozen nameplates including the Geo Metro, Chevrolet Sprint, Pontiac Firefly and Holden Barina. It was also known as the M-car within GM.

Daewoo LeMans Motor vehicle

The Daewoo LeMans is a compact car, first manufactured by Daewoo in South Korea between 1986 and 1994, and between 1994 and 1997 as Daewoo Cielo—a car mechanically identical to the LeMans, differentiated only by its modified styling cues. Like all Daewoos preceding it, the LeMans took its underpinnings from a European Opel design. In the case of the LeMans, the GM T platform-based Opel Kadett E was the donor vehicle, essentially just badge engineered into the form of the LeMans, and later as the Cielo after a second more thorough facelift.

Chevrolet Spark Motor vehicle

The Chevrolet Spark is a subcompact hatchback city car produced by General Motors's subsidiary GM Korea.

Suzuki G engine Motor vehicle engine

The Suzuki G engine is a series of three- and four-cylinder internal combustion engines manufactured by Suzuki Motor Corporation for various automobiles, primarily based on the GM M platform, as well as many small trucks such as the Suzuki Samurai and Suzuki Vitara and their derivatives.

GM Colmotores

GM Colmotores is a car company based in Bogotá, Colombia. Established in 1957 as Fabrica Colombiana de Automotores S.A. (Colmotores), they began manufacturing, under license, British Austins. In 1965, Chrysler Corporation took a 60% stake in the company, which manufactured Chrysler cars under license until 1979. In 1979, General Motors took control of the company, purchasing a 77.4% stake.

Holden New Zealand Limited, named until 1994 as General Motors New Zealand Limited, was a subsidiary of General Motors of Detroit and distributes General Motors' motor vehicles, engines, components and parts in New Zealand.

Chevrolet Cruze Compact car marketed by GM from 2008-2019

The Chevrolet Cruze is a compact car that has been made by the Chevrolet division of General Motors since 2008. The nameplate has been used previously in Japan, for a version of a subcompact hatchback car produced under a joint venture with Suzuki from 2001 to 2007, and was based on the Suzuki Ignis.

Chevrolet Aveo Motor vehicle

The Chevrolet Aveo is a subcompact car manufactured since 2002, marketed worldwide in 120 countries under seven brands. The second generation Sonic began with the 2012 model year and was also marketed as the Aveo; production ended in October 2020.


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  14. "The Geo Metro Rides Again, Sort Of". Business Week, Jim Henry, June 2, 2008.
  15. "All Hail (or Mourn) the Geo Metro". The New York Times, The Lede, June 10, 2008, Mike Nizza. June 10, 2008. Archived from the original on January 4, 2013. Retrieved May 24, 2010.
  16. "Gas costs have drivers thinking smaller, older". Mercury News, Linda Goldston, May 20, 2008. May 20, 2008.
  17. "2010 Honda Insight vs. 2010 Toyota Prius, 1998 Chevy Metro – Comparison Tests". July 2009.