Which was the best bet?
"None of these cars will be bought for its performance," we said, "but all will provide adequate mobility for the family and none can be considered underpowered.
"As expected, the Yugo, with a Fiat Tipo 70bhp 1.4-litre engine, has the legs on the others. It will buzz and thrash its way to 97mph, passing 60mph in 13.2sec and managing 30-70mph in 14.1sec. Quite why the engine feels and sounds so gruff in this installation is a mystery.
"The Lada isn't far behind. The Soviet's 65bhp 1.3-litre iron/alloy engine, with siamesed valves in a non-crossflow cylinder head, doesn't savour revving. Only the cloth-eared will extract all of the available performance. It runs out of puff at 93mph, reaches 60mph in 13.4sec and records a 30-70mph time of 15.6sec.
"The Skoda, with the least powerful, 62bhp all-alloy engine, will hit 92mph, pulls lustily past 60mph in 14.3sec and keeps the driver waiting for 15.7sec during the 30-70mph increment. It makes up for its less spritely performance by having by far the most responsive, eager engine.
"The Lada is a stable and unfussed motorway cruiser — probably this car's best feature — while the Yugo trundles along at a respectable pace, but with more engine noise intrusion than can reasonably be expected and an accompanying chatter of creaks and rattles from poorly fitted interior trim items.
"The Lada's brakes are, by far, the least effective of the bunch. Travel is long and a continuous push would have the pedal go all the way down to the carpet. Stopping power was weak and, if stamped on hard, there was evidence of premature rear wheel lock-up."
The Skoda also came to the fore in terms ride and handling: "By any standards of the popular hatch market," we continued, "it's well suspended, reasonably composed and able to soak up most that's thrown at it. But it does suffer from slightly insipid damping which can sometimes be felt at the most unexpected times: for instance, during motorway cruising. The Lada lacks composure, as does the Yugo.
"The Lada jolts in and out of ruts and ridges, sometimes sending quite severe shocks through the bodyshell. It likes things to be smooth, and provided nothing upsets the suspension mid-corner, it shows a safe, progressive, understeering stance.