A blend of performance and comfort
I have had to replace usual service items, these included:
New brake pads and disks all round.
Cam-belt at 120k service.
Clutch (which I believe was the original, after 130k miles!)
Apart from these, nothing has actually gone wrong with the car in the current two and a half years of ownership, which is impressive given the mileage.
For me, this car has been a perfect all-rounder. It is great as a commuter vehicle, comfortable, quiet and easy to drive, in town and on the motorway, returning fairly good fuel economy. It seats four adults (possibly with slightly dubious comfort levels in the back) and can even fit my bike in the back with the seats folded. At the other end of the scale, it is great as a drivers car, with brisk performance once the revs increase, and well balanced responsive handling. It has provided great entertainment at track days, and is equally fun on a twisty B-road.
From the outside, the Celica looks great in my opinion! Mine is a facelift model (look for the redesigned front bumper with clear indicators) and has been enhanced with 17” alloy wheels and Japanese late spec (JDM) rear lights and clear side repeaters, which give the car a slightly more modern look (no orangey bits!) It has also been mildly modified with a HKS induction kit (sounds good, though I'm not convinced it aids performance) and a GT4 rear strut brace (sits neatly in the boot and really stiffens the chassis in the corners).
Inside, the slightly bucketed seats are comfortable, with the driver’s side height adjustable. You sit in the typical low 'coupe' position, with the well laid out controls wrapping around the driver. Among the toys are: Electric windows, electric heated mirrors, twin airbags, electric sunroof, optional CD (mine has), optional air-con (mine doesn't – well worth looking for on a black car with all black interior, mine gets more than a bit warm in the summer!) All of these still work perfectly.
The boot is a fair size (for a coupe), although the spare wheel protrudes as a lump in the floor, and the high lip & general shape can be awkward for loading.
At low revs, the 2-litre 16V engine is quiet and refined, although not very torquey or powerful. Accelerating hard from low revs, the pick-up improves as the revs increase. Just before the peak torque point, at 5500rpm, a cleverly designed induction system allows more airflow into the engine, producing a more urgent engine note (especially through an aftermarket induction kit), and increasing the power, to a peak of 170bhp before hitting the limiter.
The gearshift is positive and lovely to use, even after 130k miles, although in cold weather, it does occasionally 'crunch' on the first couple of shifts into 3rd (worn synchro I suspect). The gearbox does sound slightly raspy on the over-run, especially in the lower gears, although this has been improved by changing the gearbox oil. The clutch pedal was heavy before I had the clutch replaced, although I think this was due to the clutch fluid, which was replaced at the same time.)
The wide spaced gear ratios can be a bit of a pain on very twisty roads, where you get a bit stuck for choice of 2nd and 3rd at times. This coupled with the slightly slack turn in makes the Celica more suited to more open tarmac with faster corners, where the car rides each bend perfectly & the long gears make best use of the engine (100mph will show on the dial before needing to select 4th)
OK, so the Celica isn't the very best performing front wheel drive coupe, and neither is it the most comfortable, practical, economical car out there, but it gives a near perfect blend of comfort and performance, like a GT badged car should. Look for a well serviced example, don't be too afraid of high mileage, and you won't be disappointed.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 2nd March, 2007