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Car reviews - Toyota - Celica - SX 3-dr hatch

Our Opinion

We like
Comfort, refinement, reliable, good handling, versatile cabin
Room for improvement
Coarse and unsporting 2.2 engine, dull styling

11 Jul 2003

AT first glance, most people would not guess that the 1994 Celica was an all-new body.

There was a lot of the previous model's styling in the cabin and the rear end. But it was all new on the outside with distinctive front styling emphasising the four round headlights, 50 millimetres extra width and a slightly longer wheelbase.

The Celica now came in liftback form only - the coupe body was dropped - with two levels of equipment, the entry level SX and the ZR.

Compared to some of its rivals, even the top level ZR was not that well equipped and new buyers had to spend quite a deal of money to add options such as air-conditioning, a sunroof and anti-lock brakes.

The SX does have power steering, power windows and mirrors and central locking.

A driver's airbag was part of the package until early 1995 when it was made an option as Toyota chopped 13 per cent off the price to stimulate sales.

The 1996 model year saw the Celica's styling freshened with a new front bumper and spoiler and some upgrades to occupant safety.

Dual airbags became an option and the body was strengthened to meet new side impact standards for US and European markets.

The 100kW, 2.2-litre, twin cam, four-cylinder engine does not have as much power as some of the Celica's rivals but does have good low and medium-speed torque which makes it easy to drive in and around town.

Toyota made detailed improvements to the suspension which improved what was already a good handling car.

It corners, steers and rides well without any vices. The only letdown with the SX is steel wheels instead of the better looking and wider alloys.

The wider body and wrap-around instrument cluster made the driver's and front passenger positions comfortable with plenty of room and easy-to-use controls. The rear seats have just enough room to accommodate two adults for short trips but a lack of head room rules out long distances.

The Celica has a decent sized boot and the rear seats are fold down split type which makes it a practical luggage carrier. The SX is practical, comfortable and easy to drive but buyers looking for a sporty coupe might be disappointed in the mild mannered engine.

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