Toyota Mark II Grande | An Enthusiast's Tuner Luxury Cruiser?
Toyota Mark II was launched as an affordable midsize luxury sedan in 1968 and its production continued until 2004. Throughout its run, it had been known with various names such as Cressida, Avalon and Corona. It had gone through 9 generations. However, the one we are going to talk about in this post is the seventh generation Mark II Grande X90.
In India Toyota launched it as one of their initial cars and I cannot say for sure but it did not do quite well as I have never seen one in person. In fact, I didn't even know about its existence before I saw some ads on OLX. However, after I learned that it came with the legendary 1JZE engine I instantly fell in love with it, only to later find out that in India, Toyota offered only the Grande version, which was available here only with the 2.4 litre diesel engine putting out the 97 bhp and 221 Nm. Coming back to the point, I am sure it was soon discontinued seeing the poor performance in the market.
Right now, these cars are available for as low as ₹2.9 lakhs with the only problem being availability. The highest you can expect to pay for them is ~₹5 lakhs. Now the main question arises, why should one even consider buying a Mark II? If you ask me, the straight answer is that it has the Japanese car spirit of the 90s in its every bit. Having relations with the legendary Chaser, it is bound to be quite good at performance. Although it is not the twin turbocharged 1JZE and sporty suspension-equipped Tourer V we may run after, it is a rear wheel drive lightweight Japanese car from the 90s. It weighs only 1390 kg while its length is 4750 mm. Just to tell you, a modern BMW 3 Series costing ₹47.3 lakhs (Avg. Ex-Showroom) weighs 1600 kg. Now if you are a guy like me, who does not care a lot about modern features like infotainment systems and stuff, you will be fine with this car because you care more about fun and pleasure of driving a car than availing its creature comforts. Moreover, I would like to mind you that it is after all a luxury car with considerable amount of features like comfortable recliner seats, good amount of legroom in the rear and a good amount of boot space as well. You will surely not regret a casual drive on the highway in this car, although the sluggishness might be a concern. The best part is that (as you would have expected) Mark II is a rear wheel drive car. I am sure you will be able to throw it around in a parking lot despite the (how do I put it) miserable engine output. As of the modifications, you have a lot of space *2000s tuning culture intensifies*. Reminding you about practicality again, it is quite practical, especially because it does not have any of those annoying modern car features like beeps and boops and alerts, infotainment systems, electronics and it is the kind of car you can repair yourself since everything inside is mechanical with little to no electric stuff. I would also like to remind you that it is a 90s car with a cassette player so beware.
Now here is a summary to the above paragraph:
Price: You can get a Toyota Mark II Grande in India for something in between ₹2.9 lakhs and ₹5 lakhs. Keeping in mind that it is a Japanese car, the repair and service charges for the car are bound to be low. However, it has been years since Toyota withdrew it from the market and it was never a popular car so getting parts (both OEM and aftermarket) for cheap prices is an issue you will need to face.
Performance: The engine used in this car is a 2.4 litre 2L-TE turbo-diesel I4 producing 97 bhp and 221 Nm as output. However, the redeeming quality of this car is the RWD layout, which is rather rare in the Indian car market. Sure, you cannot tune a lot out from that engine but you still can have some fun with the RWD.
Practicality: Even at this low price you are paying, you can expect some quality interiors with basic luxury features. Rust must not be a big concern in a properly maintained car but you should still be cautious. Being a Toyota, reliability would not be an issue either. Being a 4.75 m sedan, Mark II surely has a lot of legroom, both in the front and at rear with boot space not being compromised.
Alternatives: In this age, you can buy from many used luxury cars at a similar price range but I bet most of them are FWD. Other than the layout, I am sure the newer but similarly priced Honda Accord, Hyundai Sonata, Skoda Superb, Toyota Camry and Volkswagen Passat would be quite better than the beaten up old Mark II would.
The Toyota Mark II Grande is a proper 90s Japanese lightweight sedan but with a very weak engine. Other than that, the rear wheel drive layout and practicality paired with the excellent reliability makes for a brilliant drivers’ car, provided you are willing to choose it over the creature comforts other such cars give you.
Highway Performance: 30
Cornering Performance: 70
Ride Quality: 5 0
Parts Quality and Reliability: 80
Practicality: 10 0
Modification Potential: 60
Value For Money Factor: 60
Maintenance Expenses: 50
Best Score Yet: 60/100 (Škoda Octavia RS MK1)
This gem from the 90s is like no other car that you can get in india and i will suggest you get it for the sheer japanese spirit it possesses. I therefore rate it 3/5.