Product Type: Toyota cars
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The 'Stealth' Celica
Toyota Celica Premium
Member Name: Beastly
Toyota Celica Premium
Date: 16/03/09, updated on 16/03/09 (556 review reads)
Advantages: Head Turner
Disadvantages: It's a crowd stopper that struggles to stop itself
I'd been attracted to the 6th Generation Celica for a long time, mostly for its more-than-passing resemblance to Ford's RS200. However, I bought a Generation 7 Celica. Why? Because I'd found that unless it's GT4, the sixth incarnation of the Celica isn't all that fast. I also didn't want an older car.
My Celica is one of the last, a late 2006 190 T-Sport VVTLi. This means it has 190 horsepower; 50 of those horses wake up only at 6,250rpm, by courtesy of the car's electronics.
Overall, it's a great car. It can be driven round town as though it has the 140hp engine of its little sister. Or I can make use of the 'lift', the point where the engine's characteristics take off when its running parameters are electronically tweaked. This gives a good balance between (relative) economy and an impressive power output.
The G7 Celica's gearchange has been criticised for being baulky and obstructive. Not so: it's sulky when cold but once the gearbox is warm, the 'change is precise. Getting the best from it simply involves being familiar with the gearchanges narrow, firmly-sprung gate.
The 190 T-Sport has also been criticised for being frenetic to drive. Yes, it isn't the quietest car, or the smoothest. But it has manners and during high speed use it is excellent. The steering is ultra-precise, body roll is low and it's clear the driver will run out of 'bottle' long before the car does.
Inside, the car is remarkably well-equipped. Climate control, airbags, a good radio/CD player and comfortable seats are only part of the package. The rear seats are small and hard to access but there's a bonus. Fold the rear seats down and you get a load deck that's surprisngly spacious,, especially for a GT coupe. The interior plastics tend towards the tacky, thought they're fairly tough. This is more than can be said about the wheels, whose alloy mix is soft enough to warrant caution over speed bumps.
My Celica would get a five-star rating but for one point. I can forgive the car's tendency to collect stone chips, partly because the nose is low, partly because the paint isn't notably tough. It isn't the car's fault that it's now worth less than half what I paid - that's down to the financial situation. But nothing can convince me about the braking. My car has been into the service bay many times with brake problems. The brake pedal travel is too long and the pedal feels worryingly soft. There's nothing at all wrong with the hydraulic system, the brakes are simply that way inclined. Unfortunately, the standard brake pads cannot clean the discs, even in harsh usage, and corrosion further reduces the brakes' efficiency. Fitting EBC pads (Yellowstuff race pads) has kept the front discs clean but the rears are corroding - again. And even on a wet road, it takes a violent push to make the ABS system cut in. Power is nothing without control and were the car no longer in warranty, I'd be adding big discs and four-cylinder calipers.
It's a pity this highly important shortcoming undermines the Celica's record. But for the brakes, I'd recommend the car unreservedly.
Summary: Nearly a great car overall