2003 Toyota Celica VVT-i 1.8 petrol from UK and Ireland


Cheap performance with practicality


Replacement items since purchase in August:

Front 275mm discs and calipers replaced with 277mm items from the Avensis, whose larger pads give much greater swept area.

Braided front brake hose.

Brake lines from behind the engine to the rear brakes.

Radiator and thermostat (rather awkward to bleed the system).

Cam belt.

Exhaust back box.

Nearside rear caliper.

Handbrake system (drums) refurbished.

Things to do:

Air-con needs re-gassing.

Central under-tray missing.

Needs better head lights.

General Comments:

Good looking (like a cheap Ferrari).

Winter tyres all round means the fantastic handling (very low C of G) is also available in the cold and wet.

I can fit my mountain bike (minus the front wheel) in the back (rear seats down obviously!).

Sporty, long low seat position (I'm 6'2").

140 BHP is good, but it needs lots of revs to get the best out of it. Very strong flexible engine design, which was also used in several other Toyota models, plus the Pontiac Vibe and Chevrolet Prizm. Lotus used VVTL-i in the Elise and Exige. VVT-i known to last over 230k miles and is often turbo'd to 220 BHP).

Virtually no rust.

High 30s MPG on a long run (with modest throttle of course!).

Decent standard audio system.

£2.8k including purchase price and full service.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 23rd December, 2014

27th Dec 2014, 21:10

Sorry, I should say auxiliary belt not cam belt; this engine has a cam chain.

27th Dec 2014, 21:20

That £2.8k also includes all the replacement work I've listed.

2003 Toyota Celica GT from North America


Great car... stylish... quick... reliable


Nothing beyond regular maintenance (i.e. brake pads, tires, etc.)

I have had a couple of accidents (a deer hit and I rear ended a car, after they stopped, suddenly), so body parts have been replaced.

I'm getting a lifter tap in the engine.

General Comments:

I really like this car, one of the best I've owned.

Great pick up, and it'll go as fast as I want it to (it isn't a Lamborghini, but she'll do, for me).

Not as comfortable on long trips as I might want... you tend to cramp up after a few hours, but, the front seats are comfy enough, and seem to hold you in place as you corner and maneuver through traffic.

The hatchback is roomy, and since the rear seats fold down, you can get quite a bit in the back.

Not so roomy in the back seats, but hey, I don't sit back there, so I'm good with it. Just make sure whoever does, is small.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 20th August, 2012

2003 Toyota Celica VVT-i 1.8 from Estonia


Pretty, adequate, reliable


Small rattle inside left pillar, was a loose screw, fixed by dealer.

Rims have corrosion and the paint is peeling off, however this is a typical problem with all Toyotas and Lexus from 1999-2004 using the same type of stock rims.

General Comments:

I have the base model, without any extras, yet everything essential is there.

Inside, everything is perfectly placed and easily accessible. The 2003 model has better looking trim than 1999-2002. Inside finish is of good quality.

I am 6'2" and fit in the car comfortably. The driver's and side passenger's seats are very comfortable. I don't have any back aches driving for 3 hours on the highway AND back the same day.

Anyone over 6" will have issues in the back seat, because his/her head will touch the ceiling. If you need to regularly transport more than two people, look at the Lexus is200 instead.

Rear seats can be folded for a huge amount of space, trunk can fit pretty much anything needed.

The 6 speed manual transmission is very exact, however, shifting gears needs quite a bit of force. The clutch is very sensitive, so you have to be very soft on it, unless you want a jerk every time you change gear.

Power is adequate, the car only weighs around 1180 kg and has 140 bhp. Gets good fuel economy - 35-37 mpg highway, 25-27 city. Depends on how much you use the A/C. VVT-i flattens the torque curve, and you have a very decent (for N/A) amount of torque at 2000 rpm.

Suspension is firm, as is expected with a such coupe. Handling is excellent - responsive, exact. Brakes are one of the best in it's class, not too sensitive, you have to push the pedal all the way down for the ABS to engage on a dry road.

Externally, car looks elegant and pretty without body kits/spoiler. Gets lots of looks, paint is holding up well (I have mica blue). Hatchback is convenient.

For city driving, it is the perfect car - small, nimble, small turning radius. Perhaps the only problem is fairly low visibility due to a low sitting position.

If you mainly do highway driving, this car is not for you. The steering is way too responsive for the highway, due to which you need to concentrate more than should be needed. My particular car also lacks cruise control.

Due to the gas pedal being very soft, it is not possible to rest your foot on it during highway driving. You can still rest your knee on the side however.

When looking for a used car, forget the colour, extras, etc. Make sure the car has been given sufficient care. In particular 1999-2003 model year celicas can suffer from the engine suddenly leaking/burning a lot of oil and failing, if not given proper attention.

Overall, I recommend the Celica to anyone who is looking for a reasonably priced coupe. It is a joy to drive every day and a bargain if you can find a well serviced car.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 5th September, 2008