What's New for 1996
Final year for Beretta. Only change is the addition of long-life coolant to the engine.
We first sampled a Beretta in the summer of 1987; a pre-production GT prototype with gold paint and snazzy gray steel rims. Powered by GM's ubiquitous 2.8-liter V6, the Beretta impressed us as a sporty, quick coupe. We didn't care for the dashboard styling or the heavy clutch, but overall we thought GM had a winner on its hands.
We last sampled a Beretta in the summer of 1994; a regular production base model with red paint and boring gray steel rims. Powered by GM's ubiquitous 3.1-liter V6, the Beretta impressed us as an aging, dull, but still quick coupe. We didn't care for the dashboard styling or the mushy brakes, and we didn't care for much of the rest of the car either.
The 3.1-liter provides lots of low-end torque, and the Beretta makes the most of it. Under hard acceleration, torque steer is a problem, but under normal driving conditions, the V6 is perfectly mated to its duties in the Beretta. Braking is sure-footed, once you adapt to the Beretta's mushy brake pedal; a common GM trait. Antilock brakes are standard equipment on the Beretta.
If you're prone to motion sickness, avoid this coupe. The Beretta bounds and sways over pavement undulations like a Chris Craft in three-foot swells. The driver is well disconnected from bumps and holes though, thanks to the numb steering and floaty suspension.
Seating is comfortable, though we didn't get a chance to test comfort over the long haul. We think most passengers will be fine. Trunk room is reasonably generous, but the rear seat is somewhat tight for adults.
The Beretta's styling has aged well, and has benefited from its Chevy-exclusive status; a rarity in the cookie-cutter world of General Motors. The interior was revised in 1990, but now seems heavy-handed and bulky.
Overall, the floaty, numb Beretta failed to impress us. The Z26 likely tightens up the ride a bit, but we think it's more a styling exercise than a serious sport coupe. The Beretta is beyond its expiration date, and we recommend that you try something else.