1996 Toyota Curren XS 2.0

Summary:

Good little runaround. Wish it was the Yamaha engined one!

Faults:

Battery failed not long after purchase, however this is acceptable as the car was imported with this battery and it was at least 5 years old.

Clearcoat has begun to fail on roof.

Front plastic undercarriage tray broken, had to be held in with cable ties to stop irritating squeaking.

Aircon requires re-gassing.

Strange exhaust smoke at startup if car was left un-driven for a couple days, at worst suspected cracked valve guide.

Tappet noise.

General Comments:

This car is a real testament to Toyota build quality and reliability. No breakdowns at all bar the battery failure mentioned, however I only covered 7000 kilometres or so in it over 1 year, so a longer ownership period may have revealed more faults. Despite this, for a 12 year old car that was sometimes driven quite hard, it has done very well.

Mine featured the 2.0 3s-FE motor, which is rather basic but willing. It looks far from impressive in the engine bay, but when hooked up to a car this light it does the job, and as it's the same motor as from the Camry and Rav4, I'm sure it could tow a small boat or trailer, as it has nicely accessible torque. Limited top end HP (140ps) means that it can run out of puff on the motorway when quick overtaking acceleration is wanted, but the low end acceleration is decent.

Rather than speed, this car is a good handler, with its short wheelbase allowing a high level of chuckability into corners. The car could use wider front tires to handle the torque and prevent unwanted slippage in the rain, as it only has 195s. A lower ride height would make this car very stable for fast driving.

The small size of the car makes three point turns simple and visibility is pretty good - heaps better than an FTO - but the rounded flanks can make parallel parking difficult. (i.e. curbing)

Little maintenance was needed - a coolant change and regular cleaning basically. Still don't know why the engine emits a puff of smoke on startup (cracked valve guide?) But it hasn't stopped the car going. Oil levels were still good.

Cabin space is somewhat to be desired, if you need to take anyone around who is over 6 foot, you will have a hard time, but it is doable. Rear seats aren't suitable for long trips, but the boot is OK. Front seats are OK, with some side support.

Gas was fairly cheap, the basic Toyota motor isn't terribly efficient, but the car is light so it wasn't too bad. The small fuel tank is a little deceiving as you are fooled into thinking you are using gas more quickly.

If this was the premium model with the Yamaha 3s-ge motor and the super-strut suspension, it would have been an awesome drive - I've seen a youtube vid of one thrashing a GTS-T!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 13th January, 2009