1997 Toyota Starlet City 1.3 twin cam petrol


Built like a tank and goes like a rocket!


Hardly anything ever went wrong in this car. When the Starlet was first advertised in the Australian market, the marketing line said "built like a tank, goes like a rocket". This was the exact experience that I had with the car.

General Comments:

The Starlet was one of the cheapest cars that I ever owned, and I only purchased it as I needed something cheap and reliable to get me to the university and back. I purchased the car at an auction with about 135,000 km on the clock, and seeing that it had a 1.3 litre engine, people told me that I was mad and that the engine is probably on its way out. Well I drove the hell out of that car for the next five years and sold it for more than what I paid for it initially with 276,000 km on the engine. Apart from the routine services (brakes, fluids etc. I only changed the clutch in it once).

I was in my early 20s back then and I drove the car like it was some sort of supercar; simply put, I was abusing that poor little engine and it still kept going and going. The fuel economy was amazing, and even with my abusive driving, I was using around 6.5 litres in 100 km.

Couple of years later I bought another Starlet for my partner, as she was only a learner driver and this one had an automatic trans. This was a completely different car from the one with the manual car. The auto version was underpowered and the engine was not doing very well at all, even though I purchased it from an elderly lady with mere 52,000 km. So if you are thinking Starlet or Echo in the later models, then definitely go manual.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 20th April, 2017

1999 Toyota Starlet Life 1.3


Cheap to run, and a good runabout for those short trips


Faulty driver's side door light switch (light would not turn off when the door closed) - fixed with a five cent coin taped to the door to push it in further.

General Comments:

This car is so cheap to run! From service parts, tyres and fuel economy; definitely for the lower income individual!

It's a bit small on the inside, not ideal for a taller person, but controls are in easy reach.

3 speed automatic is quite gutless and makes the engine work hard, especially when taking off at traffic lights (requires your foot to floor), but can maintain higher speeds... when it reaches them. A 5 speed manual transmission would better suit the 4E-FE engine within.

Air conditioning blows nice and cold.

Overall, if you're looking for a cheap, reliable little runabout for the shops or around backstreets, then the Starlet is definitely worth looking at!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 2nd June, 2014

1996 Toyota Starlet EP91 - Life 1.3 4EFE


Buy one that's been looked after, and it will look after you!


Seat belt warning light sometimes stays on.

Rear wheel bearings needed replacing around 230,000 kms.

Changed my clutch around 240,000 kms (wasn't necessary, but I felt I should do it anyway).

Front C.V. joints are starting to make a noise now on full steering lock (at around 248,000 kms).

** Other Normal Consumables:

Air filter, fuel filter, oil filter, wiper blades etc.

General Comments:

This car has been super reliable since the first day I bought it.

Other than some minor issues, it's never skipped a beat. The motor and transmission feel like they could easily do 300,000 kms without a sweat (with more room for more!).

One of Toyota's best small hatchbacks. I wish they still made the Starlets and scrapped all the Yarises.

Cheap on fuel. Handles predictably. The car has super cold A/C.

For the money, I don't think you can buy a better car!

Wouldn't part with it for all the money in the world :)

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 29th April, 2012

26th May 2012, 06:35

Quick curiosity question... how much did replacing the clutch cost you? I'm facing it now. :(

Thanks, AliB.