1990 Toyota Celica GT-R 2.0 3SGE 4 cylinder
Reliability, good looks, good performance.. love it
Steering rack recently gave up (~$1500), power steering belt and power steering pipe cracked at 150,000km; caused it to be at the mechanics for about a week.
2 exhaust leaks (due to short trips to class).
Sway bar bushes at 149,00km (common complaint).
Cam belt at 135,000 kms.
A single HT lead was blown upon purchasing.
Battery at some point (fairly common with age).
Various bulbs and lights, only the flip lights can be a pain to change bulbs on, my advice... change them both at the same time.
A totally excellent car for a 20 year old Toyota. Reliable. Good looking (well to some people it is). Fun and moderately fast.
I actively sought one of these after reading a Dog and Lemon guide about the strength of the 3SGE as the thrash proof engine (although I don't treat her like that..)
The gearbox is a bit notchy on my one, but changing is easy once you own it for a while, it has never shown any problems and appeared to be pre-existing when I bought it. I've driven other Celicas, and they never showed any inclination of this, so maybe just mine.
For the size of the car, it is on the heavier side (when compared to Truenos and Levins), this can be felt if you sledge through a corner in the wet. Or when you pull on the anchors during an emergency stop.
However handling is quite excellent especially on long trips, this GTR is both TEMS (Toyota Modulated Suspension) and 4WS equipped which makes for excellent handling when you feel like it. It swoops through corners, and can be driven quite confidently and aggressively.
Mine also comes with electric lumbar support for the driver and ABS brakes, which are truly excellent, although the disks feel a little small on the front sometimes (the facelift got an increased diameter of brake rotor.. so that's the one to get!) I will in time put some more aggressive brake pads on my Celica :)
Oh and did I mentioned the 4 wheel steer? The 4WS is MAGIC!!, absolutely and totally love it! Owned a Prelude, and the 4WS on them is a joke compared to how Toyota do it; I love showing passengers how tight she can turn, it rivals the best U turn car I've ever owned (my Trueno turned like a boat in comparison to this car...). I don't know why they don't do this anymore? Probably would regret it if it ever went wrong!
However the lack of an LSD hurts these early Toyota's, especially accelerating uphill or driving swiftly in damp or dry dusty conditions. One wheel spin is not fun. An LSD would even out the traction issue a bit!
Keeping your foot light during wet conditions is the safe way to go!
The Yamaha tuned 3SGE engine has a good amount of power compared to a lot of other NA cars of the time. Its around 165ps at flywheel, but compare this to Bluebirds, Primeras and most Coronas, even VWs of the era and you won't be disappointed (dare I mention look at BMW power output for a 1990 2.0 litre.. embarrassing much?) It's positive that there is plenty of torque, which really helps taking off at lights and going up hills.
Overtaking is good fun, the car does rev to ~7000rpm, but there is no VVT on this generation of 3SGE, so it doesn't change much, but over 4000 rpm she pulls very confidently for an NA car.
OK, so it is not the GT-Four, so it is not really a "fast" car, but unlike the GT Four, its fuel efficiency is not terrible, and gearbox issues are not a problem. This is best you can own WITHOUT having a turbo.
My fuel economy is about 10 litres per 100 kms around town, and 8.45 litres per 100 kms on long trips.
The two major things I love about this car is it's quite spacious inside compared to other hatches, especially Truenos and Preludes; the backseats are very usable, and the seats do knock down for MTB or coffee tables!
I also love how comfortable it is on long journeys, it's a competent and nice town car, but also has the excellent ability to just shoot away for 4 hour journeys without causing fatigue.
I've owned a Toyota GTZ Trueno and a GTR Celica, and they are by far the BEST, most reliable and most fun to drive. If you want a car that spends minimal time off the road, keeps going and going and costs bugger all the fix, Celica is for you!
From this car I aspire to keep to Toyota perhaps something like GTT Caldina or something similar to keep the strength, good looks and build quality this marque offers. Good on you Toyota!
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 13th December, 2010
24th Jan 2011, 03:44
Do you think $4,000 is OK price for 248,000? Love the look of the car but a bit worried about the mileage?
31st Jan 2011, 02:28
Mileage in regards to the motors should not worry you, but I find as kms climb, other things need attention which are more of a worry. Gearbox, air conditioning, power steering units and the like.
I believe the 3SGE to be nearly unkillable, but nothing lasts forever!
I paid $2000 in NZ for mine and that was with 130,000km.
For $4000 you can get a ST202 (1994->1998) here in NZ. I'd consider that.