The Isuzu Aska was a nameplate used by Isuzu Motors Ltd. of Japan to denote their mid-size sedans from 1983 to 2002. Originally, the Aska was a version of GM's J-car produced by Isuzu, but later, after Isuzu pulled out of manufacturing passenger cars, the nameplate was applied to rebadged Subaru Legacies (1990 to 1994) and Honda Accords (1994 to 2002) sold through Isuzu's Japanese distribution network.
The Aska replaced the Isuzu Florian in Isuzu's lineup and was discontinued in 2002 without a replacement, as Isuzu withdrew from the passenger car business completely.
The name comes from the Japanese word, "Asuka", which is the old name of the Asuka Village in the Nara Prefecture of Japan. Because the name "Asuka" may be pronounced `Ashuka` in European as well as foreign countries, the `U` was taken away from the name, presenting the model as the "Aska".
First generation (1983–1989)
The original Aska was developed as a part of GM's J-car program and was a welcome replacement for Isuzu's sorely dated Florian. Contrary to fellow J-cars from other GM divisions, the Aska only came in one body style, a 4-door sedan (the station wagon body style on the Florian was always relatively unpopular). The Isuzu J car variant differed most notably in the rear styling from other J-car variants. From 1983 to 1984, the Aska was known as the "Florian Aska", before being renamed in 1985 as the "Aska".
The car was launched in March 1983 with 1.8 and 2.0 L gasoline engines and a diesel. In 1985, a turbocharged version of the 2.0 L engine, which developed 150 PS, joined the lineup. Branded by the German tuner Irmscher (specializing in GM cars and cooperated with Isuzu on some other models too), this version featured a distinictive body kit and became somewhat of a cult object among some car fans in Japan.
The Aska was exported to southeast Asia, where it was known as the Isuzu JJ, and to New Zealand as the Holden Camira (JJ) between 1984 and 1987, in lieu of the JD Camira, manufactured in Australia, because the previous Australian-sourced JB Camira fared badly in the New Zealand market (nonetheless, the JD wagon was imported concurrently from Australia). GM switched back to the updated Australian version (JE) in 1987 due to the strengthening Japanese Yen.
The Aska was also assembled in Arica, Chile from CKD kits from 1984 and sold as Chevrolet Aska in the Chilean domestic market and in Ecuador. Chilean Askas came in three equipment levels (LT, Limited, and Deluxe), with two engines and either automatic or 5-speed manual transmissions. While the two lesser versions both received a 91 PS (67 kW) 1.8-litre coupled to the five-speed, the Deluxe got the larger 2-litre with 100 PS (74 kW), only fitted with the automatic transmission.
The first generation Aska was discontinued in 1989; production totaled 108,512 cars.