Can a 25-year-old car car keep up with modern cars?
The Celica is, probably, Toyota's most underrated model. The Celica lives under the shadows of the quirky Mr2, the overpriced because of an anime Corolla and of course, the internet's 14-year-olds favourite, the Supra. Meanwhile, the price of all those cars has skyrocketed, the Celica's hasn't. Doesn't matter to what trim you are looking at, be it GTFour or the front wheel variants. For example, you can get a low mileage, left-hand drive, ST205 for around 16000 euros and you be getting an AWD 250 hp cornering monster with a bulletproof engine. Did you know the famous TOM Super GT Supra used the 4pot 3S-GE engine instead of the renowned 2JZ?
Back to Celicas because I'm here to talk about the lowest trim of the 6th generation, that would be the 1.8L 115 hp front-wheel-drive version… The one I've got. You might be wondering why I am telling you something that you could know by just looking in "my garage" well, it is because it's a better daily driver than you think.
You see, before this one, I owned an MKI Golf and a Peugeot 206. The Golf was brilliant as an old car but not having a power steering is only fun for the first two days. The small engine and power (1.4l/75hp) on the Peugeot meant that you always needed to have the throttle open wide to keep up with the highway speed limit, so fuel economy was terrible.
But how can a 90's 2+2 can keep up with modern cars? I've owned the Celica for three years now. Since then, I had the opportunity to drive other cars much more modern and even more powerful. Yet, when I got back into the Celica, I never thought "I wish I were still in that".
For starter, you can get them relatively cheap, I got mine with 142.000 Kms, for 2.500€ after a little of wiggle on the price. When I buy a used car, I always service the next day and change the timing belt so I can keep track on it. It turns out, the timing belt, oil and filters were changed recently. Not only that but the owner had also installed a rear parking sensor, and that is good because the visibility is not great on this car.
The first thing people told me about this car is that fuel consumption is awful and that is not true. You see, fuel consumption mainly depends on the way you drive. If you are in start-stop traffic, the 1.800cc engine is going to drink more petrol than a smaller engine, but that's it. The lowest I've managed to average on this car is 5.5l/ 100Kms on mostly highway. And there is where the engine comes to play. I live on a volcanic island, so everything is going either up, or down, even on the highway. The 151NM of torque from the 7A-FE engine has no problem with it. I don't need to lower the gear or go full throttle to keep up with the speed limit even when it's time to go uphill. Power is not bad, I mean 115hp is alright for today standards, but the car only weighs 1.200Kgs despite the size… And that brings me to my next point.
If you have kids or plans to carry people, this is not your choice. If I sit on the back seats, my hair touches the roof despite me being quite short. On the other hand, thanks to the car being a front-wheel drive "hatchback", the boot is surprisingly spacious and, if you fold the rear seats, you can fit a downhill bike inside.
On the handling department, it's a solid car. When you go from a 206 to this, it's like playing on a different league. Where you put the eye, the car follows. With a decent set of tyres, understeer is almost not existent even with the 20-year-old suspension.
Let's wrap this up. Since I've owned it, I've only had to do service and put a new clutch. If you know about Toyota, parts aren't cheap. Still, you won't have to be changing them frequently as you would with other brands. Fuel mileage is decent if you can drive smoothly and I think it looks better than most modern cars.
It is a contender for a cheap, kind of entertaining, daily driver or beater car. The stock engine sounds brilliant and, if you change the muffler, you can get a sweet deep sound that isn't annoying from miles away, as you can listen to below.
This video was filmed using a microphone to capture all the tones so the sound is louder than it is in real life.
P.S: I know about the existence of Scotty Kilmer.