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Car reviews - Toyota - Paseo - coupe

Our Opinion

We like
Comfort, ease of operation, reliable, durable, economical
Room for improvement
Not even slightly sporty

Toyota logo1 Aug 2003

By MALCOLM LIVERMORE

THE Paseo was released in mid-1991 as Toyota's competitor in the small entry level, sporty coupe niche created by Hyundai with the S-Coupe a year earlier.

The styling and creature comforts of the Paseo appealed to people who wanted a sporty looking car rather than a hard core driver's car.

The Paseo was essentially built on the Corolla platform and therefore shares many of its mechanical components but is really a completely different model.

Inside, there is plenty of room for the driver and front seat passenger with occasional seats in the rear - greatly compromised by the sloping rear glass - and a decent sized boot.

Rising prices caused by an appreciating yen were countered by Toyota in April, 1993, by introducing a new base-level Paseo with less equipment while the previous model continued and was renamed Paseo Alpha.

The base Paseo has power steering with a tilt adjustable wheel and four-speaker AM/FM radio/cassette.

The Alpha equipment level adds central locking and electric windows. Air-conditioning was optional on both models. They remained on the market until January, 1996, when replaced by revised models.

The four-cylinder, 1.5-litre engine was exclusive to the Paseo and has two overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder and multi-point fuel-injection.

The under-square design helps it produce more low and medium speed torque for better around-town driveability.

The Paseo's light weight, slippery shape and efficient fuel- injection guarantee the fuel consumption will be economical even in the worst driving conditions. Drivers can expect up to 9.5L/100km around town and 7.5L/100km on the highway.

The low weight also helped acceleration. In manual transmission form, the standing 400 metre acceleration is in the mid 17-second bracket with 0-100km/h in 11.5 seconds.

Steering response and cornering are helped by stiff springing and low profile, 185 section tyres.

On the other side of the coin, the ride is harsher than it should be on road surfaces that are not billiard table smooth.

Toyota played it safe with the engineering of the Paseo. The engine, transmission and running gear follow the traditional front-wheel drive route which might be boring but does provide a good basis for long life and reliability.

Asking prices for an Alpha are less than $1000 above the equivalent Paseo, which makes it good value considering all the extra equipment the money buys.

The Paseo cannot be called a sports car but its sporty looks appeal to most people and it is practical, provided adult-sized people do not have to use the rear seats regularly.

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