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What Car? says

4 out of 5 stars

For A bespoke coupe, the Celica is stylish, fun to drive and well built

Against The cramped rear means practicality is a real issue

Verdict Good looking and great to drive, the Celica is everything a coupe should be

Go for… 1.8 VVT-i

Avoid… The 190

Toyota Celica Coupe
  • 1. Half of all Warranty Direct's Celica claims are to do with the suspension
  • 2. Engine complaints account for a third of all Celica claims to Warranty Direct
  • 3. The interior is smart and tidy, but really for two people only
  • 4. The tailgate struts can collapse, so check they work properly before you buy
  • 5. Check that recall work to cure leaking brake fluid from the master cylinder was done
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Toyota Celica Coupe full review with expert trade views

If you're after a coupe, the likelihood is that you want something with great looks and a drive to match. The Celica scores highly on both counts.

It was designed as a coupe from the outset, so there's no chance it will be confused with a similar-looking hatchback, such as the Vauxhall Astra and Citroen Xsara.

It's every bit as good to drive as it is to look at, too. You sit in a suitably sporting low driving position and, in traffic, its typically light Toyota controls make it easy to get around. Then, on the open road, you can really enjoy the crisp steering, slick gearchange and sharp handling. In many ways, it's the best of both worlds.

The trouble is, it's really a car for a couple only. Although there's plenty of space up front, the two seats in the back are incredibly cramped. The Astra coupe, for example, is far more accommodating.

Trade view

James Ruppert

T Sport is the model but it also needs Premium and Dynamic Packs

James Ruppert
Used car guru

Leaving aside the many special editions which appeared towards the end of the Celica's life, your choice is little more than what colour you want.

At launch, the Celica was a one-model range, and the only significant addition came in December 2000, when a more powerful 190bhp engine joined the range. Although it had extra equipment – leather upholstery and climate control, for example – it really isn't worth the extra.

It has little more pulling power than the 140bhp version, and you need to rev the socks off it all the time to access the extra horsepower, which is too much like hard work.

The less-powerful car is every bit as quick in the real world and looks just as smart, so it's the model to choose. Even the equipment is good, with air-con, ABS, alloy wheels and electric front windows.

If you want more than that, find a model with the optional Premium Pack, which includes leather upholstery and climate control.

Trade view

Duncan McLure-Fisher

Good reliability, low failure rates - higher than average bills due to expensive Toyota parts

Duncan McLure-Fisher
Managing Director,
Warranty Direct

Compared to its contemporary rivals, the Celica looks pretty expensive. A Honda Prelude, Hyundai Coupe or Alfa GTV will cost you less to buy.

However, all except the Hyundai suffer problems more frequently, according to Warranty Direct, which adds to the costs of running one.

Sadly, when things do go wrong on the Celica, they tend to cost a lot to fix. True, average Celica repair costs are no worse to the GTV's or Prelude's, but they're high, too.

Otherwise, the Celica shouldn't be dear to run. The 140bhp engine returns 36.7mpg on the combined cycle, and even the 190bhp gets 33.6mpg. That's much better than the Alfa GTV or Ford Cougar.

Most Celicas fall into group 13 insurance, the only exception being the 190bhp, which is group 15. By class standards, that's pretty good – well ahead of the GTV, and on a par with the Ford Cougar and Vauxhall Astra coupe.

Trade view

James Ruppert

T Sport is the model but it also needs Premium and Dynamic Packs

James Ruppert
Used car guru

With the Celica, all you really have to look for is the right combination of colour and trim. The company consistently finishes high in our Reliability Surveys, and the Celica has always been well received in JD Power surveys, rated the best coupe in 2006 and in the top 20 overall in 2005.

According to Warranty Direct, problems with the Celica are rare, but half of them come from the suspension. A further third are down to the engine. Other than that, the only problems we have heard of are brake discs rusting on cars that don't get much use and the tailgate struts collapsing.

There have been just two recalls. The first affected cars built before September 2000 and concerned brake fluid leaking from the master cylinder. The second was for cars built in 2002, where fuel could spill out of the filler cap. Affected cars needed a new valve or a replacement fuel tank.

Trade view

Duncan McLure-Fisher

Good reliability, low failure rates - higher than average bills due to expensive Toyota parts

Duncan McLure-Fisher
Managing Director,
Warranty Direct
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