Poor Build Quality
Auto journalists have long criticized the Hugo for its poor build quality, so we decided to investigate this claim ourselves. As we examined the car, it quickly became apparent that it lived up to its reputation as a cheaply made vehicle. There were no plastic coverings to hide the unsightly parts of the seat belt and no glove box to hold any belongings. Instead, we were met with exposed hardware and a mysterious bulge that turned out to be an ashtray.
Furthermore, the speedometer needle was broken off, making it impossible to accurately gauge our speed. To make matters worse, the speedometer boasted an optimistic high number of 110 miles per hour, which seemed highly unlikely for a car like this. The vents in the car seemed to serve no real purpose, as they only revealed a mess of wires when we peered through them. It became clear that the car’s age, almost 35 years, had taken its toll on its quality.
Uncomfortable and Outdated
The next claim we wanted to put to the test was the comfort of the Hugo. Auto journalists had complained about the car’s lack of comfort and outdated features. As we settled into the seats, it was evident that these claims were valid. The seats were rigid and offered little support. The absence of modern amenities, such as air conditioning or even basic air vents, made the ride quite unpleasant.
Moreover, the Hugo lacked any form of sound insulation. The noise from the engine, combined with the rattling of loose parts, created an incredibly noisy environment. It felt as though we were driving inside a tin can, constantly bombarded by the sounds of the road.
One of the most important aspects of any car is its performance, and the Hugo failed to impress in this department as well. The engine struggled to provide enough power, especially when tackling uphill drives. The acceleration was sluggish, and the car took its own sweet time to reach a decent speed.
Not only was the performance lacking, but the steering and handling were also subpar. The car felt floaty and disconnected from the road, making it difficult and nerve-wracking to navigate even the simplest of turns. It was an unnerving experience, especially when considering the fast-paced nature of driving in a city like Los Angeles.
The Final Test
Despite all the flaws and negative reviews, we decided to give the Hugo one last chance by taking it on the scariest on ramp in LA. The true test of its performance and reliability would be whether it could get up to speed without jeopardizing our safety.
As we nervously approached the on-ramp, the car’s lackluster engine struggled to keep up. The acceleration was agonizingly slow, and our confidence in the car dwindled with each passing second. We held our breath as we merged onto the highway, hoping that the Hugo would prove us wrong.
Unfortunately, our hopes were shattered as we realized that the car was simply not cut out for high-speed driving. It struggled to maintain a consistent speed, and the steering felt unpredictable. It was a harrowing experience, and we were relieved when we finally reached our destination, unharmed but shaken.</
Unveiling the Worst Reviewed Car of All Time
As we embarked on our journey to drive the worst reviewed car of all time, we couldn’t help but feel a mix of curiosity and apprehension. Little did we know what awaited us in the depths of automotive history.
An Interior that Defies Time
At this point, I don’t know if judging it solely on the interior after decades is the best metric. However, we must acknowledge that the reason this car was so poorly built has a lot to do with its original cost. This thing was only four thousand dollars, which is around eleven thousand dollars today. It’s no surprise that corners were cut in its construction.
The car in question was the first and only Yugoslavian car that made it to the U.S market. Manufactured by a company called Curvina Zastava, which literally means red flag, one might assume that buyers would have seen the huge red flag hovering over this vehicle.
A Clone with Panel Gaps
In reality, the Hugo is a clone of the Fiat 127. Curvina Zastava licensed the design from Fiat and built their own version in the motherland. However, one thing that communist Yugoslavia did not have access to that Fiat did was purpose-built machinery. And that’s how you get panel gaps.
A Journey to Oahu
With our worst reviewed car ready to hit the road, we decided to take it to the beautiful island of Oahu. Known for its tranquil beaches, lush rainforest, and adrenaline-packed festivals, it seemed like the perfect location to put this car through its paces.
Motor Fest, happening on the island, brought together over 600 vehicles, ensuring that our automotive adventure would be one for the books. From tearing up the streets of Honolulu to getting muddy on a volcano or simply cruising along the beach with friends, there was no shortage of activities to test the capabilities of this ill-famed vehicle.
A Playlist for Car Enthusiasts
One of the highlights of Motor Fest was the playlist, featuring a series of unique campaigns celebrating all aspects of car culture. From vintage classics to electric supercars, the playlist had something for every car enthusiast.
But if you were a fan of donuts, then The Donut playlist would have captured your heart. Packed with thrilling donut-making displays, this playlist promised an exhilarating experience for those who love the smell of burning rubber and the screeching of tires.
The Worst Reviewed Car of All Time
We recently had the opportunity to drive what is widely regarded as the worst reviewed car of all time. The Zostova, a car that clearly spared no expense in its mediocrity.
As we entered the car, we couldn’t help but notice the lack of attention to detail. The metal stamping was lackluster at best, and the interior was bare bones. It was clear that this car was designed to be nothing more than a cheap commuter vehicle.
Dreadful Ride Quality
As we began driving, we quickly understood why this car received such terrible reviews. The ride quality was nothing short of dreadful. The moment we hit a bump, the car shook violently, as if an air compressor was running in the back seat. It was a disconcerting experience, to say the least.
Aged and Noisy
The noises coming from the car were enough to make anyone question its reliability. With every turn of the wheel, there were strange creaking and groaning sounds. It was as if the car was desperately pleading for mercy. Perhaps it was an inevitability of its age, but it certainly did not inspire confidence.
Faulty Fuel Gauge
One particularly concerning issue we encountered was the faulty fuel gauge. The gauge displayed that the tank was empty, despite it being filled to the brim. It was yet another indicator of the lack of attention to detail in the car’s production.
Full Throttle Experience
Despite its flaws, we decided to give the car a full throttle experience. As we pressed down on the accelerator, we were met with a lackluster response. The car struggled to pick up speed, leaving us questioning its power and performance capabilities.
A Lot to be Desired
Overall, our experience driving the Zostova, the worst reviewed car of all time, left a lot to be desired. From its subpar ride quality to its noisy and unreliable nature, it was clear that this car failed to meet even the lowest expectations.
As we completed our test drive, we couldn’t help but feel perplexed by how a car of this caliber ever made it onto the market. It served as a reminder that sometimes, cutting corners and sacrificing quality in the name of affordability can only lead to disappointment.
So, if you ever come across a Zostova on the market, our advice would be to steer clear and opt for something a little more reliable. Trust us, your driving experience will thank you.
The Unexpected Hugo
I will give it that we didn’t feel it here. We go, “it’s not that bad, yeah.” You know what, honestly, the ride comfort is good for the driver, not the car.
A Car Out of Place
Yeah, Americans ended up hating the Hugo, but here’s the thing – it was never meant for the U.S market. It was a complete fluke that it ever made it to our shores. In the first place, the Hugo was made in a developing country coming out of isolation and produced solely to mobilize the average person for Yugoslavians. It symbolized freedom and livelihood. It meant they could go to their Grandma’s house two towns over.
Why? I think it’s unfair to compare it to cars like the Volkswagen Golf or the Honda Civic, even though we’re gonna do that later. Those cars were built under optimal conditions in countries that were thriving at the time. And if anything, the Hugo should be compared to cars like the Volkswagen Beetle or the Piaggio ape. These cars were utilitarian vehicles that empowered the Everyman and fit perfectly into the industrial machine like a cog, helping build up countries’ economies after war.
Handling and Braking Woes
Now, let’s test this Hugo’s handling and braking. On paper, the Hugo has all the buzzwords that you’re looking for in a car from the 80s – disc brakes, rack and pinion steering, independent suspension. But just because they have all those features does not mean they’re executed very well, as Edmund said, when they reviewed an ’89 Hugo.
The Performance and Handling
The Hugo is a disappointing ride, to say the least. Its sluggish acceleration and lack of grip make for a frustrating driving experience. To make matters worse, the steering requires an absurd amount of effort. It’s as if you have to physically throw your whole body into every turn just to stay on the road. It’s not exactly the type of workout you sign up for when getting behind the wheel of a car.
Unpredictable Direction Changes
One of the most unsettling aspects of the Hugo is its unpredictable handling. The car seems to sail all over the road, making it difficult to maintain a stable path. It’s particularly unnerving when you let off the gas and then resume acceleration, as the car tends to change direction without warning. This kind of behavior is not only disconcerting but also potentially dangerous. It’s hard to trust a vehicle that can’t even maintain a consistent trajectory based on throttle inputs.
One of the widely reported complaints about the Hugo is its transmission. Among all the components that require precise machining, the transmission is critical. Unfortunately, it won’t be long until owners start experiencing problems with theirs. The shifter itself is floppy, suggesting poor build quality, and the shifts are clunky and uneven. The combination of sticky throttle and high idle further adds to the frustration. It’s a recipe for transmission woes waiting to happen.
The Marketing Hype
Despite its glaring performance issues, the Hugo sold remarkably well. And much of the credit goes to Malcolm Brooklyn, the mastermind behind the car’s marketing. You may recognize him as the Canadian guy who previously made waves with the Brooklyn SV1. Brooklyn’s marketing prowess managed to create a frenzy around the Hugo, successfully capturing the attention of the masses. The car became almost a cult icon, with kids enthusiastically dubbing it the “Brooklyn SV1.”
In , the Hugo’s reputation as the worst reviewed car of all time is well-deserved. Its subpar performance, unpredictable handling, and troublesome transmission make for an overall disappointing driving experience. Yet, thanks to the marketing genius of Malcolm Brooklyn, the car managed to find a surprising level of success in the market. Despite its flaws, the Hugo remains an example of the power of effective marketing and the influence it can have on consumer perception.
How the Hugo Became a National Joke
You go Mania and people were legitimately psyched about the Hugo before it became a national joke. Put it tonight, 140,000 Hugos were sold in the U.S., but if this car was so bad, why’d they bring it over here in the first place.
Well, it turns out that a bunch of unlikely events lined up perfectly to help this car hit the U.S. market. It may seem really weird now, but in the mid-1980s, capitalism-obsessed, Reaganized America loved communist Yugoslavia, why? The heck is that? Well, because Yugoslavia had kind of broken away from the USSR’s influence, while Russia boycotted the 1984 Olympics right here in LA, Yugoslavia said heck that and sent a bunch of athletes.
Then they hosted the Winter Olympics that year in Sarajevo, but this was just part of the equation. Fiat had just pulled out of the U.S. market, which meant that it wasn’t a conflict of interest for the Hugo being based off of the Fiat 127. A Czech immigrant living in LA named Miroslav Keffert had the idea to ride this pro-Yugoslavia wave and imported three cars for the LA Auto Show in 1984. The No Frills display got a lot of attention, most importantly from one Malcolm Brooklyn.
Acceleration as the Biggest Standard for Performance
The second and last test of our Hugo is one of the biggest standards for performance, and that’s acceleration. The manufacturer claims it could go 0 to 60 in 14.3 seconds, which is horrible even then. But some reviewers clocked in at more like 18 seconds.
Underwhelming Performance and Unreliable Features
The driving experience in the Hugo was underwhelming, to say the least. The car struggled to pick up speed, making merging onto highways a hair-raising experience. The engine was weak, and the acceleration was lackluster, causing frustration for any driver hoping for a smooth ride.
On top of the poor performance, the Hugo had a plethora of unreliable features. The transmission was prone to failure, leaving drivers stranded on the side of the road. The brakes were also a cause for concern, with some reviewers reporting difficulty in stopping the car efficiently. These issues made the Hugo far from being a reliable daily driver.
The Lack of Comfort and Safety
Another area where the Hugo falls short is in terms of comfort and safety. The seats were uncomfortable and lacked proper support, causing backaches for passengers on longer trips. The interior design was also lackluster, with cheap materials that felt flimsy and uninspiring.
In terms of safety, the Hugo fared poorly as well. It lacked many of the standard safety features that were becoming commonplace in other cars of the era. Crumple zones were virtually non-existent, and airbags were unheard of. This lack of emphasis on safety was a major drawback for potential buyers.
The Legacy of the Worst Reviewed Car of All Time
Despite its numerous flaws and abysmal reviews, the Hugo managed to garner a cult following of sorts. Its notoriety as the
The Disappointing Engine
When we first set our eyes on the Hugo, a few things immediately caught our attention. One of them was the hood scoop, which gave the car a more aggressive and sporty look. However, upon closer inspection, we realized that the hood scoop was nothing but a deception. Rather than channeling air to the engine, it led to an air box attached to the firewall. Disappointment washed over us as we discovered that the real intake for the carburetor was a flimsy tube.
As we delved further into the Hugo’s engine, we found another perplexing feature. Behind the air cleaner, there was a large cavity big enough to store the spare tire. It was a peculiar choice to place the spare tire there, but it only added to the oddities of this car. On closer examination, we noticed that the jack was still tucked away inside. A sense of unease enveloped us as we questioned the reliability of such a design. Trusting our lives with this car seemed out of the question.
A Blast from the Past
Curiosity got the better of us, and we pondered about the engine that powered this disappointing vehicle. To our surprise, the engine lurking under the hood was a 1.1-liter inline, four-cylinder. It seemed outdated considering the era it was introduced in. While new cars were embracing fuel injection technology, the Hugo clung to a single carburetor beneath the air filter.
Uncovering the history of the Hugo, we discovered that its engine design was already over a decade old when it debuted. To add to the mix, the car itself was built on a foundation that was over 20 years old. It became clear that the Hugo was already starting at a disadvantage in an era where technological advancements were rapidly pushing the boundaries of automotive engineering.
A Worthy Contender?
With the knowledge of the underwhelming engine and outdated design, we questioned the suitability of the Hugo as a reliable and efficient vehicle. It seemed like a relic from a different time, struggling to keep up with the demands and expectations of modern drivers.
The undeniable truth was that the Hugo was not a car that could compete with contemporary offerings. Its lackluster performance, unreliable build quality, and outdated features made it a difficult recommendation for anyone in search of a reliable, comfortable, and efficient vehicle.
In the world of automobiles, some cars stand the test of time and become legends, while others fade into obscurity. The Hugo, unfortunately, falls into the latter category. Its poor reputation and lackluster design will forever be etched into the annals of automotive history as a cautionary tale of what happens when a car fails to evolve with the times.
The Hugo: A Car Out of Time
The Hugo, a car whose reputation precedes itself, arrived in the United States with great anticipation. However, it quickly became apparent that this vehicle was far behind its time. In fact, the last carbureted engine to be sold in the United States was back in 1990 with the Subaru Justy, making the Hugo a relic in comparison.
An Unfortunate Choice
Reliability is a key factor when it comes to automotive reviews, and while carbureted engines can be dependable, this was not the case with the Hugo. This car, built in a communist country on the verge of collapse, was bound to face numerous challenges.
Time to Hit the Road
Setting off for a freeway test, the anticipation is palpable. With a heads-up display speedometer in place, the plan is to measure the 0-60 acceleration. As the pedal hits the metal, the numbers start climbing – 29, 30, 33, 36, 38, 40. The effort intensifies, reaching 41, 45, and finally 55 mph. The struggle is real, and the loud crunching noises from within the car suggest that all is not well.
A Breakdown in Progress
Nerves begin to fray as the time ticks on – 35.3 seconds to be exact. An unfamiliar noise adds to the growing sense of unease. The situation becomes even more dire as the car starts to overheat, nearing the red zone on the temperature gauge. It becomes clear that a cooling-off period is necessary, but the car refuses to shift gears. The shifter is stuck, resulting in a frustrating and potentially dangerous predicament.
With less than a mile covered, disaster strikes. The Hugo breaks down completely, leaving its occupants stranded on the side of the road. The reliability of this car has proven to be a major concern, with its performance falling far short of expectations.
Despite being heralded as the worst reviewed car of all time, the Hugo’s legacy lives on. Its shortcomings and the frustrations experienced by those who dared to drive it serve as a reminder of the importance of research and thorough testing before investing in a vehicle.
The Ill-Fated Journey
The day started with a sense of excitement and anticipation. We were assigned the task of test-driving the worst-reviewed car of all time – the notorious Hugo. Little did we know what awaited us on this ill-fated journey.
Availability and Reliability
The first major hurdle we encountered was the scarcity of Hugos. These cars were almost extinct, but our team managed to track down three of them. That in itself was a feat, considering their reputation. However, fate had a different plan for our intended adventure.
Unreliable from the Start
As we embarked on our journey, it became apparent that the Hugo’s legendary unreliability was more than just hearsay. Within a mere ten minutes of filming, our car broke down. It was a stark reminder of the vulnerability of this infamous vehicle.
The Dark Days of Manufacturing
To fully understand the Hugo’s calamitous reputation, one must delve into the manufacturing conditions of its time. The final years of Yugoslavia witnessed subpar quality control and abysmal working conditions in communist factories. Oversight was lacking, and the end result was a lack of consistency in the production process. Such circumstances inevitably led to a swarm of unreliable parts, rendering the Hugo a ticking time bomb on wheels.
A Comparison of Reliability
If reliability was the measure of a car’s worth, the Hugo certainly fell short. It paled in comparison to reputable brands such as Honda, Toyota, and Nissan, which provided reliable alternatives in the 80s. These vehicles, starting at $5,800 or $16,000, offered a dependable and worry-free driving experience. In contrast, the Hugo was plagued with constant breakdowns and mechanical failures.
A Glimmer of Hope
Amidst the gloom and disappointment, there was a beacon of hope – the Honda Civic. This vehicle, in its own way, filled the void that the Hugo aimed to occupy. It provided a no-frills commuting experience but with superior reliability. The D6 engine in the EF Civic surpassed expectations, offering not only impeccable reliability but also more horsepower than two Hugo engines combined. It was a testament to the superior engineering and manufacturing standards of Honda.
A Lesson Learned
In the end, our experience with the worst-reviewed car of all time left us perplexed and slightly apprehensive. The Hugo’s journey was marred by a legacy of unreliability and dismal manufacturing conditions. It served as a cautionary tale, reminding us that quality control and oversight are crucial in the automotive industry.
Despite its notoriety, the Hugo taught us valuable lessons about the importance of reliability and the significance of reputable manufacturers. It reinforced our belief that behind every successful car, there lies meticulous engineering and stringent quality control.
The SI was eleven thousand dollars new in 1991
Back in 1991, the SI was priced at a whopping eleven thousand dollars. This was more than double the price of the Hugo, but it promised to deliver power and reliability that would put it head and shoulders above other economy cars of the time. We were curious to see what exactly made the Hugo so terrible, so we took it for a spin.
A broken rubber piece
During our drive, we discovered that a simple rubber piece holding the shift linkage to the transmission had broken. Of course, an old rubber piece is not expected to last forever, but it was surprising how such a small part could render the car useless. And to add insult to injury, this little piece cost only ten dollars. However, in the grand scheme of things, spending money on a car like this might not be the wisest investment.
A fair Shake
Despite its reputation, we truly wanted to give the Hugo a fair shake. While it’s certainly not a great car, we felt that perhaps people had been too harsh on it back in the 80s and 90s because it was such a novelty. But as we drove it, our skepticism grew. It became clear that this was not just an over-hyped vehicle – it truly lived up to its worst reviewed car of all time title.
Worse than the Reliant Robin
Sure, the Reliant Robin may not technically be considered a car. But even with that disclaimer, the Hugo managed to surpass it in terms of sheer awfulness. The creators of the Reliant Robin may have tried their best, but it was clear that the Hugo did not make a good car.
Where to learn more
If you’re interested in learning more about the Hugo, we actually did an episode on our History Podcast, Past Gas. As the number one automotive podcast in the world, we dive deep into the intriguing stories behind some of the most notable cars in history. Additionally, there’s a Wheelhouse video we did a couple of years ago that delves into the specifics of this particular vehicle.
The Initial Encounter
As we embarked on our journey to test-drive the infamous “worst reviewed car of all time,” we couldn’t help but feel a sense of trepidation. The rumors and negative feedback had created a cloud of uncertainty around this legendary vehicle. With every step closer to the car, our apprehension grew.
Aesthetics and First Impressions
The exterior was a mishmash of worn-out panels, rusty doors, and faded paint. Its appearance alone suggested years of neglect and abuse. The odd assortment of colors only added to its awkward charm. It was clear that this car had seen better days, and yet, it exuded an almost mysterious allure.
Opening the creaky driver’s door revealed an interior that mirrored its dilapidated exterior. Torn seats, broken dashboard, and a strong musty odor filled the air. It was a time capsule, preserving the essence of a bygone era. With bated breath, we prepared ourselves to buckle up and take this relic for a spin.
The Ride of Unease
As we turned the key, the engine coughed to life reluctantly. The cacophony of rattles and groans became the soundtrack of our voyage. The car lurched forward, signaling the beginning of a truly unique experience.
The steering wheel fought against every attempt to maneuver, as if it possessed a mind of its own. Each pothole felt like a small earthquake, reverberating through our bones. The deafening engine noise engulfed us, drowning out any possibility of conversation. We couldn’t help but question our sanity as we continued along the bumpy road.
A Journey Through Time
Driving this car felt like stepping into a different era. Its vintage features and lack of modern conveniences served as reminders of how far automotive technology had progressed. With no air conditioning or power steering, we had to rely on manual techniques of the past.
As we roared down the road at a snail’s pace, the car’s quirks became more apparent. The windows refused to roll down, leaving us in a stifling, claustrophobic environment. The radio emitted nothing but static, further isolating us in our time capsule. It was an automotive purgatory, suspended between the past and present.
An Unexpected Revelation
Despite its numerous shortcomings, the worst reviewed car of all time possessed a certain charm that was hard to ignore. It forced us to slow down, to appreciate the simpler aspects of driving. The lack of modern luxuries became a gateway to connecting with the essence of the vehicle.
Although the ride was uncomfortable and the car tested our patience, we couldn’t help but feel a sense of respect for this automotive underdog. It symbolized an era of perseverance, where cars were built to last rather than to impress. While the world around us raced forward, this car served as a reminder of a bygone era.
In , today’s video offers an in-depth look at our experience with the worst reviewed car of all time. Despite its high price tag back in 1991, the Hugo failed to deliver on its promises of power and reliability. While it may not be the absolute worst car ever made, it certainly stands out as the worst car we have ever driven. So, if you’re looking for a vehicle to avoid, the Hugo should be at the top of your list. Make sure to subscribe and follow us on social media for more automotive content.