The low-priced Yugo faces a tough sell in the American market, judging from the chorus of pans it has received from automotive reviewers since it reached these shores in August.
One of the severest has come from Consumer Reports magazine, which this month carried a Yugo report that read in part: "The price is the come-on for the Yugo. But you can't buy it for $3,990, and it's hard to recommend at any price."
A "destination charge" of $299 and the $265 cost of the official Yugo stereo radio with two speakers and cassette player push the Yugo's usual delivery price up to $4,644, Consumer Reports said.
Adding air conditioning would increase the price by another $600, while decreasing the already marginal power and performance of the Yugo's four-cylinder, 1.1-liter engine, according to some Yugo salesmen and other reviews of the car.
"Is low price sufficient for buying the Yugo?" Consumer Reports asked in its review. "We don't think so. Overall, the Yugo scored below every other small car we've tested in recent years."
Motor Trend, a national auto-buff magazine, was less harsh in its criticism, but nonetheless was cool in its assessment. Of the eight new 1986 import cars tested by the Motor Trend staff, the Yugo was ranked last, without so much as an honorable mention.
Officials of Yugo America Inc., the Yugo's importer, have reacted, on the one hand, by criticizing the critics for wrongly comparing the Yugo with more expensive cars, and on the other, by pulling out all of the advertising stops in promoting the Yugo as "a car that makes sense."