Car Nerd Reacts MotorWeek Retro Review '89 Sport Coupes 240SX Laser Probe
It is time for another reaction, video here to motorweek retro review and today is the 1989 nissan 240sx, the laser rs turbo and the probe gt. Now this one really means a lot to me, and this is why i selected it. I was out of high school at this time in college, so i would have been largely the market for this and uh. I love these cars. Ive driven uh, two of them almost three ill explain in a second, and you know what its kind of sad to me that these near sporty cheaper cars dont really exist in the market uh as they used to, and i i kind of lament their loss, but Uh at this time uh i love these. The 240 was fantastic, the probe was fun, the laser i never drove the laser, i did drive the mitsubishi, all wheel drive turbocharged version and it was a beast, although it was terrifying but all wheel drive – and i really like these cars now when i graduated and Was a young professional? I would have been perfect for one of these, but my new wife, her car died, i needed to replace mine and we ended up with a dodge neon and a jeep wrangler, because id rather have a two door wrangler than a sports car. So i never ended up owning one of these, but i have fond memories of them and a special place in my heart. So lets see what motorweek says about them.
From 1989 Music back in the early 70s, a whole new class of car was born, the automotive riders of the time, dubbed them super coops. They were downsized answers to americas, thirsty pony cars. Maybe you remember some of the names mercury, capri, opal, manta, mazda, rx3 and chevy vega gt. Well, those cars are gone, but there are plenty of modern equivalents. Todays coupe class is crowded with more cars than we can test at once. So we chose the three newest and most advanced. Our trio of sport. Coupes includes two japanese designed american built contenders. A sixteen thousand six hundred ninety eight dollar ford probe gt a fifteen thousand eight hundred twenty one dollar plymouth, laser rs turbo, along with an imported fifteen thousand four hundred. Seventy four dollar nissan 240 sx se each represents the new generation of design for sporty two plus two hatchbacks and all are in that sixteen thousand dollar range come on. I would buy something like this for sixteen thousand dollars. Tomorrow i mean thats. Just i im my wife has joked that my sense of what a car should be worth is rooted in the past, and i agree with her. Its set about 1988 actually – and i would buy one of these. But while the probe and laser are trendy front wheel, drive designs, the 240sx retains a rear drive chassis. The oldest of our young group is the ford probe gt introduced a year ago. It is built by mazda in flat rock michigan, while mechanically almost identical to mazdas own mx6.
It is very much a forward in character and appearance. Honestly, the mx6 looked so much better. It seemed narrower and longer, but it was a. It was a beautiful car. It really was, in my opinion, the probe i dont know what to say. Initially, it was kind of floated as a replacement for the mustang as the next generation, a evolution revolution of the mustang, a front wheel, drive platform based on a mazda, and luckily that never happened, but the ford well, i think it sold pretty well, was kind of Criticized for being designed for women that it was designed for womens heights and their nails and wearing heels when they drive it became kind of a girly car. I i know how that sounds today, but thats the reality of what it was 30 years ago. 35 years ago, when this was introduced, it was a really really good car that i, i dont think quite got a fair shake for that reason. Power, however, is all mazda complete with a turbo charger. This 12 valve 2.2 liter generates a healthy 145 horsepower. Its torque rating is the highest of our group at 190 pound feet. The second transplant is the work of mitsubishi and chrysler made by diamond star motors in normal illinois. This plymouth, laser rs turbo, is virtually identical to the eclipse gst and i think that looks fantastic, guys, honestly of the three of them and we havent even seen the 240.
I think that looks fantastic and, like i said i drove the mitsubishi version. Turbocharged all wheel drive, i think that looks great and when i talk about how chrysler had swagger and was coming out with some really good cars, i i think this is a good example. I i know its a mitsubishi, but that just looks good. I really think chrysler in some ways was a styling leader of the late 80s. This core looks fantastic. I love it turbo sold by mitsubishi. We judged its styling and overall appearance as the slickest of the three, while also the smallest car. In our group, its 2 liter engine is the most sophisticated along with 16 valves and a turbo. It includes an intercooler. The result is the match. Ups highest horsepower rating 190., the lasers torque rating of 142 trails, the probe substantially, so the horsepower and torque ratings between the probe and that laser were almost reversed from each other. You know 190 versus 140, 140 versus 190. Something thats really interesting, but lets see how it performs the nissan 240s xse is not made here, at least not yet, but it was designed to fit specific american requirements. Nissan felt that good road holding would be better served with the conventional rear, drive arrangement, also rear drive. Cars are cheaper to fix and that translates into lower insurance costs. Oh thank you nissan for thinking about that and thats a really really good. Looking car, the one big thing i remember about the 240, is it ended up being okay, i mean it was always in the shadow of the z cars.
So its kind of a you know, fake competitor, not i dont even know how to phrase it. It was just kind of you know the cheap performance version thats what all of these were, but the 240. The big thing i remember was when car and driver did a review of the 240 one of the generations and they said they liked everything about it. The the style, the drive, the ride, the handling, but the engine needed to be updated and then nissan redesigned it and changed everything except for the engine, but still a good car. Just never quite lived up to its potential insurance rates for sporty cars are skyrocketing, especially for younger buyers, premiums jump at the mere mention of 16 valve turbocharged engines. The nissan has only 12 valves and no turbo, but it has the largest displacement at 2.4 liters. Its 140 horsepower nearly matches the probe, and it has more torque than the laser 152 pound feet. The chassis of our trio have many similarities, all front suspensions use mcpherson struts, however, while the probe and nissan have independent, rear suspensions. The laser uses a twist beam derived from the mitsubishi galant gs. Sport sedan all three use disc brakes at each wheel, although our probe gt is the only one available with anti lock brakes as for utility. Each cars hatch covers a large cargo bay with a formidable liftover height. Each also has child sized rear seats that fold down. For additional cargo room, the probe has the most usable space.
The laser has the least our tests covered a week of touring some 1500 miles down the eastern seaboard and back again, much of our time. The first day was spent on interstate 95, the main route for anyone traveling between maine and florida for long distance travel. Our team felt the probe and nissan 240sx both delivered a smooth compliant highway ride. However, the seats in the 240 lack the kind of back support. You need for hour after hour behind the wheel. The seats in the laser are supportive, but its shorter wheelbase passes along too many expansion joint jolts. We ventured off i 95 to reach our overnight. Stop the seaport city of wilmington north carolina, where we spent the next morning visiting one of the major tourist attractions of the tar heel state, the uss north carolina battleship memorial love me some wilmington guys, i got to admit uh, not surprising. The ford rides a little more softly, a little bit better for longer drives the laser less so in the nissan kind of splits that difference uh, not a big surprise. There honestly, and i think well see that once we get to the track, you know right now. Ive got my preference based on my previous experience with these cars, but what ive watched up to this point? Ive got a favorite whats yours curious. The uss north carolina was the first battleship commissioned after the bombing of pearl harbor, with nine 16 inch guns and displacing up to 45 000 tons.
The north carolina carried out nine shore bombardments and earned 12 world war ii battle stars permanently moored at wilmington since 1961. The ship has been lovingly restored to her former glory. Visitors are able to venture far above and below the main deck of this huge vessel, nicknamed the showboat. For us, it was an intriguing look back into our parents past and a time that for more and more americans seems like ancient history on the road again by noon. We headed down coastal highway 17 through myrtle beach and charleston south carolina and on to savannah georgia, where, once again, we set up our test equipment at roebling road raceway. When it came to pure acceleration, we expected the laser to fare best. We were not disappointed with loads of torque steer 0 to 60 miles per hour took 7.1 seconds. This is a slower result than our january laser test. When 35 degree weather allowed the intercooler to have more impact, but the laser was still faster than the probe gt at 7.8 seconds and seconds ahead of the nissan 240sx at 9.4 seconds brakes got a major workout at roebling. Here the probe gt took center stage, stops from 60 average to a short 121 feet. Thanks to the abs, there was no lock up and all stops were straight. Brake fade on. The road circuit was also the least of the group. The laser stopped in the next shortest distance 132 feet here. Lockup was a problem when you got on the mushy pedal too hard high speed laps also took a quick toll producing lots of fade, while the 240sx took slightly longer to stop averaging 134 feet.
The brakes had a more secure feel than the lasers. There was a lot of nose dive. The stops were straight with a firm, easy to modulate pedal. They called that a lot of nose dive. So you know lets stop here for a second and look at this. The the ford rides best on the interstate, the forward accelerates slightly slower than the laser, but not noticeably. It stops better Music, interesting, very interesting i and and and its a forward, so you get to buy american right lets. Lets see on the circuit fade was within easily manageable limits on the road course, the 240 sx gave us the biggest shock. Our nissan did not have the high performance suspension tuning and tires that the other cars had regardless. It still made its way around the racetrack and, through our handling course with great precision, it was the best balance of the three cars as far as lap times around this two mile road course. The more powerful probe gt and laser were faster. Yet both were more of a struggle to drive hard than the nissan the laser, as in our first test, suffered from excessive front tire. Wear the probe gt, on the other hand, took this type of punishment for two days, with hardly a whipple thats how it went too for the entire test when it came to picking the best of these three sporty hatchbacks our hands down winner is the ford probe Gt it shined both in highway comfort and overall track performance, plus it has more interior and trunk space.
Second, and quite a ways back, we picked the nissan 240 sxse. It too had a good highway ride, plus the best fuel economy and the best balance. If far from fastest test track performance, it goes to show that there is a lot to say for old fashioned. Rear wheel, drive scoring only a few points less than the 240 is the plymouth laser rs turbo while easily the fastest car in the group, both its highway and track performance were flawed. It also had more torque steer than we cared to handle. However, it was our teams top pick when it came to styling and interior design. If weve learned anything during this test its how far sport coupes have come in less than 20 years. All three of these cars make the old super coupe seem like dinosaurs. These are the kinds of well designed sporty cars that buyers are demanding and the best news is. There are more to come that thats, really interesting im, not surprised at the order. Uh, the laser was always smaller and a little more high strung. In my opinion, the 240 was always a good handler, maybe more sporty, but never quite had the engine to back it up. Just like i said about that car and driver review, and then the probe just does what ford tends to do at their best is combine. The best of everything without being a class leader if it was my money today and these three cars were available wow, i would have a hard time i think id.
I personally do not think id get any of them. I think id get the mitsubishi eclipse um, that turbocharged all wheel drive platform. I think thatd be my top choice, but of these three it would have to be the probe. I just think that would be the best for everyday living number two. If i was really honest with myself, itd probably be the 240.. I dont think id agree. Uh disagree with their ranking here, you know outright performance outright. Acceleration does not trump for me, uh comfort being able to drive it on the interstate. So this was really cool. Uh, you know one of those moments in in history where this was aimed. For me i was the demographic i could have afforded these, and you know i just ended up going in a different direction and i always kind of regretted it. But if i went back to you know the early 90s and i was going to buy a car, oh i dont know im im i dont know i. I think it would be the probe honestly. I guess it would just be the probe after i sorted through everything. I think it would be the probe.