In relation to the competitors of the time, the EP91 Starlet SR is below par in most areas. The interior is cramped in the rear, there is no steering wheel adjustment for rake or reach, and the interior is starting to look dated.
Onto the handling; while being good enough to have fun with, the EP cannot hold that much speed into a corner, compared to say a Saxo/106.
All is not lost though, as there are a lot of after-market parts that can be bought to rectify this. Once fitted, this will allow the Starlet to out handle any car of its size and weight.
The 1.3 4e-fe Toyota 16 valve engine is very fuel efficient, and can more than hold its own against today's lukewarm hatches like the 206 Quicksilver/ Saxo Furio / Fiesta ST. Producing 75 BHP, it's enough to keep a young driver happy.
The brakes are really good if maintained well. One common fault are the rubber boots that corrode, making the sliding pins seize up, weakening the braking force.
Summing the Starlet up.
The fuel consumption is great. I have had close to 50mpg before, and the build quality is second to none. It's a Toyota, so it's built to last.
The only problems I have had are from wearable parts.
If serviced regularly, a Starlet could easily do 250,000 miles and more...
I am heavily into modifying the handling and overall chassis dynamics of my EP; my Starlet is a reflection of this.
I currently have a six speed box fitted, Jam Racing suspension, Whiteline rear anti roll bar, ECT anti lift/ castor kit and ECT bushes all around.
I have out cornered a Civic Type R before with this set up.
I am currently working on a big brake kit, utilising the four pot calipers and 315x30 vented discs from the ST205 Celica GT4.
The other good thing about the Starlet are all the good top quality Japanese tuning gear available. All types of chassis braces, light weight kevlar body panels, LSDs.. the list goes on and on. The turbo engine from a Glanza (4e-fte) will fit along with the 1.5 (5e-fe) from the Toyota Paseo.
The 4e-fte can be tuned to give up to 400bhp reliably.. expect drivability to go out of the window though.
All of this makes the Starlet a very much underrated, rewarding prospect, compared to a Saxo or Corsa.