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Toyota Celica 1994 Review

Celica's 50mm wide body allows increases in front (45mm) and rear (50mm) tracks with small gains to front and rear shoulder room

Toyota’s new Celica sports car has changed more in appearance than under the skin, and more in price than in substance.Its front-end styling cues are reminiscent of Porsche with four fixed headlamps replacing the two pop-up head- lights in the previous model.

And while there is no conventional grille, air is directed into the radiator through a low-slung opening. The rear styling features a high bootlid with a duck-tail effect.

The neat instrument panel is seen through a leather- wrapped steering wheel with a standard airbag, smaller at 45 litres than the full-size 65-litre bag in most cars.  Ventilation controls include dials for the temperature and fan with buttons for the rest. Everything is within easy reach of the driver.

The driver and front passenger are accommodated in supportive seats, but the two rear seats are for children only.  Legroom, which has grown 73mm in the rear, is not the problem; it's the lack of head-room, despite the scooped- out seats.

Celica's 50mm wider body allows increases in front (45mm) and rear (50mm) tracks with small gains to the front and rear shoulder room.  Celica's 2.2 litre engine, carried over from the previous model, generates maximum power of 100kW at 5400rpm and peak torque of 196Nm at 4400rpm.

Judged along the Celica's engine is willing and offers good response, but it is lacking when judged against its rivals.  This engine does not have what it takes to do the job properly, especially on the torque curve.

You really have to flog it to get the sort of performance you'd expect for $50,000 - the list price of the optioned- up test car before on-road-costs.

Toyota has tried to paper over the gaps in the engine's power delivery by changing the gear ratios to give slightly better performance in the low and mid rev ranges.  But, even so, you need to keep the engine racing between 3500rpm and 5500rpm to feel you are getting somewhere.

Such high-rev driving tends to chew up the juice, but you can do much better if you are content to cruise along gently. It is in this high-rev range that the engine noise becomes coarse, but wind noise and tyre roar do not intrude into the cabin.

Front and rear independent strut suspension are mounted on sub-frames with increases in rigidity for the suspension towers and front strut brace.

The front suspension also gains from an increase in spring rates, negative camber, caster angle and trial, and anti-dive and anti-lift while the rear gets small increases in spring rates and negative camber and a decrease in anti-lift.

Unlike some European markets and Japan, Australia misses out on the "super strut" suspension which adds a amber control arm to the front suspension.

But, in Australia, only the $80,000 turbo-charged four- wheel-drive Celica GT-Four Group A cars will have the super strut suspension - and there's only 55 of those cars coming here.  At $42,800 for starters, it's hard to describe the Celica ZR as a great value-for-money car.

This is despite the equipment list which includes the airbag, front fog lamps, five-spoke alloy wheels, power windows, remote central locking, CD player, leather- wrapped steering wheel and gear knob, sports seats, rear spoiler, and security system.

As with the test car, the price nudges $50,000 when you add air-conditioning, anti-lock brakes with cruise control, and a sunroof. There's also more to pay if you want an automatic transmission.

Bottom line: The new Celica is a good car without being outstanding in any area, and is certainly not exciting or involving to drive. It lacks the sort of power and torque you would expect in a sports car costing more than $40,000.

Toyota Celica

Price: $42,800

Engine: In-line 16-valve double overhead-camshaft 2.2-litre electronically fuel-injected four-cylinder.

Carried over from previous model, but has been re-tuned to give slightly better performance in low and mid-rev ranges.

Power: 100kW/5400rpm. Torque: 196Nm/4400rpm.

Slightly lower gearing does not overcome the lack of power and particularly torque in the Celica.

Transmission: Five-speed manual.

Slick gear changes and light clutch.

Seating: Four.

Rear seats are for children only because of limited headroom.

Pricing guides

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Range and Specs

SX 2.2L, ULP, 4 SP AUTO $2,500 – 4,290 1994 Toyota Celica 1994 SX Pricing and Specs
GT-4 Group A Rallye 2.0L, PULP, 5 SP MAN $6,400 – 9,900 1994 Toyota Celica 1994 GT-4 Group A Rallye Pricing and Specs
SX 2.2L, ULP, 5 SP MAN $2,600 – 4,510 1994 Toyota Celica 1994 SX Pricing and Specs
ZR 2.2L, ULP, 5 SP MAN $3,000 – 5,170 1994 Toyota Celica 1994 ZR Pricing and Specs
Pricing Guide


Lowest price, based on third party pricing data

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