Toyota Celica (T180): Our Analysis
It has gone through countless changes, modifications, and even competed in rally.
We can't leave the Toyota Celica without taking a look at its (arguably) best generation ever; the T180.
The Toyota Celica T180 Series
In the late 1990’s, the Toyota Celica underwent another sea-change when it was completely redesigned. This time round, the car received the all-new Super Round organic styling that Toyota engineers were at some pains to point out, improved structural strength without adding weight, upgraded wheels and tires, and more power and an improved cooling system for the GT-Four (US: All-Trac). 4-wheel steering was also introduced, but only for the Japanese market.
The new generation Celica also saw new model designations, and as with the previous iteration, models were branded differently for the various markets they were exported to, with the Japanese market receiving the lion’s share of the major developments. Below are some details of the new models in the fifth generation of the Toyota Celica.
Models in the Japanese market.
The new Japanese models included the S-R, Z-R, both with 3S-FE engines, the GT-R, and the Active Sports, which was the test-bed for the newly-developed Toyota Active Control Suspension. Both the GT-R and the Active Sport came with 3S-GE engines; however, the Japanese version of the GT-Four was fitted with the 3S-GTE engine that boasted an air-to-air intercooler and the CT26 turbocharger that eliminated exhaust gas interference.
This version of the 3S-GTE engine produced 165 kW (221 hp), and 304 Nm (224 lb/ft) of torque, as the result of reprogrammed ignition mapping, and ceramic turbine wheels in the turbo charger. The permanent 4WD system in the new GT-Four featured a viscous coupling limited slip centre differential, coupled to a Torsen rear differential. This version of the GT-Four featured in TV commercials shot in Japan to promote the new styling Super Live Sound System.
Models in the North American market.
One major difference between North American market cars and those offered in other markets were the fixed door mirrors, and amber corner lights, as opposed to clear corner lights and folding mirrors on all other models in all other markets. All American models also featured air bags for the driver.
North American model designations were the ST for the base model, which featured the 1.6 L 4A-FE engine, the GT and GT-S which were fitted with 2.2 L 5S-FE engines, but with tuning tweaks to the engine in the GT-S that produced 5 hp (4 kW) more than the GT. The All-Trac Turbo (GT-Four) was offered improved 3S-GTE 2.0 L engines, which produced a respectable 200 bhp (149 kW; 203 PS) and 200 lb/ft (271 Nm) of torque.
In addition, both the GT-S and export market GT-Four / All-Trac cars were offered as wide-bodied Lift backs, with the “wide” deriving from the aggressively flared fenders.
Models in the European Market.
All of Europe received only three models- the 1.6 L ST-i, the 2.0 L GT-i, and the GT-Four. A Cabriolet version of the GT-i was available, but only in a few local European markets, while in Britain only the 2.0 GT-i 16 Liftback and GT-Four were offered officially. The wide- bodied 2.0 GT-i 16 became available only in the Netherlands and Belgium for sale during the 1992 model year, although this version was nothing but a stock GT-S fitted with a 3S-GE engine.
Models in the Australian Market.
Australian market cars were generally less well appointed than American and Japanese models, and in Australia the available models were the SX Coupe, the SX Liftback, and the GT-Four. Australia also received a small limited edition of 150 GT-Four Group A Rallye cars.
Australian GT-Four’s did not have ABS and fog lamps initially, and these features only became available as standard some months after the introduction of the GT-Four into Australia. Australia also received a second limited edition in 1993, the Limited Edition WRC Trophy cars, but these were just standard SX models that featured the special seats from the GT-Four, cruise control, special decals, rear window shade strip, and an ineffective, and some would say, an ugly rear spoiler.
Facelifts and Improvements Around the World.
The fifth generation of the Celica did not see nearly as many seemingly pointless changes, facelifts, and cosmetic makeovers as the previous generation, but even so, very few changes and/or upgrades served to improve the Celica substantially, or even in meaningful ways. A case in point is the 4-wheel steering system introduced on Japanese market Convertible models. Although the system sounds good in theory, it was complicated, not fully developed, and proved to be problematic, unreliable, and extremely expensive to repair.
Other changes and upgrades on fifth generation models include:
Although transmission and engine changes did occur on other models, it was the ST185 GT-Four that benefitted most from having a choice of three transmissions. Below is an overview of available transmissions for the GT-Four.
Other Available Options.
During the four years of its production, Anti-lock brakes (ABS) were available on all GT-S models, but it was available on GT models only from 1992, to 1993. ABS, Leather interior, sunroof, and System 10 Premium Sound System were available as options on the GT-S and 1990 –1992 All-Trac models, but all were offered as standard equipment on the 1993 All-Trac.
The sport-style interior, power-operated driver's seat, auto tilt-away steering wheel, and cruise control as standard equipment, made the All-Trac (GT-Four outside of the US), the most expensive Celica yet. It was also the most powerful Celica ever sold in the American market, with its 2.0 L turbocharged 3S-GTE engine producing 149 kW (200 hp).
In August of 1991, Toyota commenced a significant face-lift for the Celica. Face-lifted models were available for the 1992 model year. Changes included:
Group A Homologation.
To satisfy homologation requirements, Toyota produced a rally edition of 5000 units, starting production in September of 1991. Named “GT-Four RC”, some were exported to selected European markets, where they were offered as Carlos Sainz (CS) Limited Edition models, in honor of the famous European rally driver. The 150 examples exported to Australia were offered as Group A Rallye models there.
Features of this edition include:
Known Reliability Issues.
As far as reliability goes, the fifth iteration of the Celica is arguably one of the most reliable cars ever produced by Toyota, and there are no known reliability issues. However, as with all cars, reliability is directly related to the regularity with which it is serviced.
Nonetheless, despite their reputation as driver-friendly cars that handle well, fifth-generation Celica’s never achieved the same level of popularity as the previous generation, and thus far fewer suffered extreme modification as a result. Many T180 series Celica’s are still alive today and many still have their original engines, with some having completed in excess of 400 000 miles. The down side of this however is that cars that do come onto the market have tired engines, so a thorough inspection of the engine is important before purchasing an example.
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