2002 Toyota Celica VVTL-i 190 1.8 from UK and Ireland
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
5th Apr 2005, 13:27
Sounds like you had an unusual amount of problems with your Celica. I'm considering one again. I had a 1988 Celica with I think the 2.2 liter engine (got 38mpg Hwy) -- power was terrific and I was surprised and disappointed to read they had dropped it -- you'll notice over the years you have even less power (mine did this very slowly). Don't get me wrong -- I LOVED my Celica -- got 250,000 miles out of it in 10 years and replaced only the following (besides regular belts/hoses/plugs maintenance items) -- brakes, struts, alternator, timing belt (at 170,000!) - and NEVER had to replace the clutch on my stick shift -- though it needed it at 250,000. Gave the car away, bet it's still running!
16th Feb 2008, 08:23
Speaking of more powerful engines, there is a rumour that Toyota will make the next generation Celica married to Subaru Impreza running gear. What an awesome conbination! Celica looks, Subaru performance.
Have a look at the Celica entry on wikipedia for more details!
3rd Aug 2009, 05:58
Small correction : max torque at 6800 rpm, and max power at 7800 rpm. I have the Corolla version with this engine, and I agree, if you keep it neat concerning slow cold starting and maintenance, it is a nice peace of work. Even on the low revs you will leave all TDIs standing and a great deal of petrols, because its torque is pretty level even coming from low revs.
I don't particularly feel the need to push the right pedal at any time, but I can imagine me being 10 years younger, and owning not the Corolla, but the Celica, this need would be somehow enhanced.
I always liked the model range of Celica, and Toyota has tried quite a bit on the scale of possibilities in that area. Enjoy your machine.