With Toyota launching its new GT86 coupe, Iain Dooley, PA senior motoring writer, looks back at the Celica the car seen as its predecessor.

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Engines – Although available ‘only’ with Toyota’s workmanlike 1.8-litre petrol unit, the Celica offered keen drivers spirited performance with its 140 horsepower output. Later in its life a T Sport model appeared complete with 190 horsepower, which did much to enhance the car’s appeal.

Exterior – This generation Celica swapped the long bonnet and big rear wing of its predecessor for a shorter, wedge-like profile with the corners rounded off. The car’s stubby tail and low roofline helped to imply a feeling of agility. The car’s hatchback tailgate did much to boost its practical appeal, too.

Interior – The Celica’s cabin might be snug but that doesn’t detract from the high-quality ambience. Lots of dark plastic abounds and the low-slung driving position fits well the car’s sporting character.

Driving – The Celica boasts the familiar and relatively safe front engine, front-wheel drive layout of the vast majority of its rivals past and present. As such, and just like a comparable hot hatchback, the Celica delivers a predictable driving experience with just enough agility to make life interesting. The car’s engine could be more tuneful but, in T Sport 190 guise, performance is pleasingly brisk if you’re prepared to work it hard.

Ownership – Like all Toyotas this Celica is a sturdy car that will easily cope with tens of thousands of miles a year. Build quality inside and out is good and so is refinement and reliability. Running costs should be manageable and, with its hatchback tailgate, day-to-day practicality is impressive.

What to look for – In general, Toyota models attract mature owners due to long-held reliability and trustworthy perceptions. This is partly true for the Celica, so expect to see well-maintained and cared-for examples with comprehensive service histories. The flipside is that the car also attracted boy-racers seeking a bulletproof toy – big exhausts, non-standard wheels, bodykits and performance modifications aren’t uncommon. Only you can decide what’s attractive but remember to factor in insurance and reliability issues when considering a modified car.

Model history – 1999, Toyota launches more compact version of its long-running Celica performance car. Power comes from four-cylinder 1.8-litre petrol motor. Good level of equipment offered as standard. 2000 saw addition of 190 horsepower variant and more standard kit

Reasons to buy – Clean looks, compact footprint, 140 horsepower variant easy to drive quickly, a practical car, build quality.

Reasons to beware – Realistically a two-seater, 190hp model needed a lot of effort to drive quickly,

Pick of the range – Celica 1.8 T Sport.

What to pay – 2004 04 £4,150; 2004 54 £4,300; 2005 05 £4,775; 2005 55 £4,925; 2006 06 £5,400. Figures relate to showroom prices for cars in A1 condition.




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