The Geo Metro first appeared in Chevrolet-Geo showrooms in 1989. It was a rebadged version of the Suzuki Cultus, sharing many of the drivetrain and interior components. The Metro was a direct replacement for the Chevrolet Sprint, a subcompact hatchback that was several inches shorter than the Metro, and boasted fewer safety and convenience features. The Sprint was also a rebadged Suzuki Forsa. Several body styles were available during the Metro's 13 year run, including a 2-door convertible, 3-door hatchback, 4-door sedan, and a 5-door hatchback. The Metro enjoyed a decent run, first as a Geo from 1989 through 1997, then as a Chevrolet from 1998 to the model's final year in 2001. The Suzuki Swift though, is still being sold in Japan and Europe, albeit in a different form. The Swift is also still being sold in Canada as a rebadged Daewoo Kalos/Chevrolet Aveo.
Originally, all Metro models were produced in Japan. However, in 1990, production commenced at CAMI Automotive, a 50-50 joint venture between General Motors and Suzuki located in Ingersoll, Ontario, Canada. The sedan models only sold in Canada were made in Japan.
The Metro is part of the GM M platform, a designation it shared with the Canadian-only version, the Pontiac Firefly, as well as the Sprint. The Metro (along with twins the Suzuki Swift and Pontiac Firefly) were the only subcompacts made in Canada in the 1990s.
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Customers who were surveyed stated that they wanted more power from their Metro as well as good fuel economy. In 1995, with the new Metro came a new engine: the 1.3 L I4. The new engine still had only a modest 70 hp (52 kW), but provided the extra power Metro owners wanted. That power came at the cost of some fuel efficiency, dropping the highway mileage down to around 35 mpg (6.8 L/100 km). The engine however, was not new. It was the same engine that had been in use in the Suzuki Swift (except for the GT models) for years. LSi models produced from 1995 on had the 4-cylinder engine, but the 3-cylinder was still the base power plant in the car, becoming an option for non-LSi models in 1997.
Canadian Metros had the 1.3 L engine available as an option beginning in 1993 in the 3-door GSi model, and as standard equipment in the sedan (exclusive to the Canadian market at the time: as noted in the previous paragraph, American market Metros were not available in a sedan bodystyle until 1995).