2003 Toyota Celica Reviews
Toyotas rakish, low-slung sport coupe aims at an audience thats younger than buyers of the Camry Solara coupe. Unlike the companys MR2 Spyder, the Celica has a small backseat. A modest face-lift for the 2003 model year includes an updated front fascia, revised taillights and newly available high-intensity-discharge headlights. The gauge cluster has also been revised.
Last redesigned for 2000, the front-wheel-drive Celica hatchback is still offered in GT and racier GT-S trim levels. Convertible versions have been offered in the past, but todays Celica is strictly a solid-roofed coupe.
Created at Toyotas California design studio, the Celica was inspired by racecars. Longer in wheelbase than its predecessor, todays Celica is shorter overall, which reduces the front and rear overhangs. In addition to a low nose, the body features a steeply raked windshield, a tall tail and sharp creases along the sides. Narrow windows impair both rear and over-the-shoulder visibility.
Fog lights are standard on the GT-S, and a power sunroof and rear spoiler are optional on the GT-S and GT. All-disc brakes go on the GT-S, but the GT is equipped with a front-disc and rear-drum setup. Both models ride 15-inch tires, but GT-S rubber is a little wider and covers alloy wheels. The GT-S can be equipped with optional 16-inch tires.
Racing is also said to have inspired the interior. The Celica is designed to seat four occupants, but the two rear passengers should be prepared for a tight squeeze. The backseat is best suited for children or cargo, and the split seatbacks fold to increase storage space. The dashboard has a modern look with analog instruments.
Standard equipment includes a tilt steering wheel, a cassette/CD stereo, air conditioning and intermittent wipers. The GT-S adds a leather-wrapped steering wheel, cruise control, and power windows and door locks. Leather-trimmed seats are optional. Cargo capacity measures 16.9 cubic feet.
Under the Hood
The 1.8-liter VVT-i (variable valve timing with intelligence) four-cylinder engine in the Celica GT develops 140 horsepower. A 1.8-liter dual-overhead-cam four-cylinder with VVTL-i technology goes into the GT-S, which churns out 180 hp at 7,600 rpm. The GT has a standard five-speed-manual gearbox, and the manual transmission in the GT-S has six speeds. A four-speed-automatic transmission is optional in both models, but the one in the GT-S offers manual gear selection that operates with four buttons on the steering wheel. The GT-S requires premium fuel.
Daytime running lights are standard. Side-impact airbags and antilock brakes are optional.
With its angular design, the sleek, low Celica looks sharp. Unfortunately, too many irritations crop up to give it a true thumbs-up.
Taut, precise handling is the Celicas No. 1 blessing. The coupe responds well to steering by producing minimal body lean through curves and remaining neatly stable on the highway. While rounding a quick curve, the rear wheels sometimes feel as if they could lose their grip if they were pushed just a little more. Ride comfort is fine on the highway but can become harsh in urban commutes.
With its high-revving engine, the Celica is fast from a standing start. Sadly, that satisfying action is accompanied by some brash, raspy sounds from the four-cylinder, and automatic-transmission downshifts arent the most genteel.