Sharps looks, handling to match, can we just have a little more power?
Serpentine belt replacement (under warranty) - squeaking at engine start. Same goes for alternator belt.
Tail gate gas struts replaced - not lifting.
Brake discs and pass replaced under warranty - juddering.
First off, this car really looks the part even now after 5-6 years since introduction. The sharp rakish looks are a real head turner in this age of boring mass produced cars which all look the same.
Handling for a front wheel drive car is excellent; turn-in is sharp and precise, body roll minimal. The car feels solid on motorways/freeways all the way up to 140mph.
Running costs are also low for a car which is fairly quick. Servicing is not expensive, and as the car does not have a boy racer following insurance in the UK is again fairly cheap.
The cabin is comfortable, seats are excellent. The dials look a bit tacky though, and some of the interior plastics look a little cheap and scratch easily.
I so wish Toyota would have married the car to a more powerful engine. The engine is great for a 1.8, but I find the high lift cams somewhat inflexible. On an incline going shifting first to second gear you always drop under the high end engine power range (6200-8200 rpm) and this adds to acceleration time.
I prefer the 2.0 engine in a Honda civic type-r to be honest which pulls more progressively and delivers it's powerful top end punch more smoothly. By comparison you can feel the Celica engine 'step' or 'jump' when the high lift cams kick in whick allow the power jump from approx 140bhp to 187bp.
The engine could use a bit more torque lower down the rev range, but what torque there is sustained right into the top of the rev range. (Max torque comes at 7800 rpm)
Also as my model does not have traction control (this was added to newer models) the high end power band is tricky in the wet or when cornering.
One last gripe, although nothing major has gone wrong with the vehicle, I have had a number of minor gripes which were all fixed under warranty.
Main dealers in the UK (I have used 5 of them) are polite, helpful, and organised.
All in all though the Celica is a fine package of looks, handling, with low running costs for what you get in return.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 20th January, 2005