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Used car focus Toyota Celica – 1999 onwards

With sharp looks, a willing 1.8-litre engine and engaging handling, the current Celica is every part a sports car. This model was never developed to go rallying, so there’s no four-wheel drive or turbo option.

But the seventh-generation Celica is still a great car, despite newer (and more expensive) coupes, such as the Nissan 350Z and Mazda RX-8. Used prices are now within many buyers’ budgets, with prices starting at about £7,800 for a 140bhp model on an 01/Y.

The Celica range consists of just three models. The base 140bhp has power steering, ABS, seatbelt pre-tensioners, CD player and leather steering wheel. The more potent 189bhp adds leather front seat and door trim, outside temperature display and aluminium effect pedals. The T-Sport, from August 2001, has 17-inch alloy wheels, body kit, CD autochanger and full leather trim. In addition there are three option packs. Premium adds leather trim, electric sunroof and outside temperature display, Sport has 17-inch alloy wheels and a rear spoiler, while Dynamic gains a different design of 17-inch alloy wheel and side skirts.

Motorway driving is quite comfortable, thanks to a compliant suspension set-up. But it doesn’t come at the expense of handling, which remains well balanced. It’s fun and easy to drive with precise, although light, steering, and sharp brakes. However, the six-speed gearbox can be notchy, especially when changing down to third.

Celica has a sporty, attractive interior with supportive, low-slung seats. The cabin is beginning to look a bit dated compared to more modern coupes, but all the controls are easy to use on the move and the chunky, buttons make using the stereo simple. Despite a large rear screen, visibility isn’t particularly good, but the sloping design makes accessing the generously-sized boot easy. The token rear seats are for children only; when they’re not in use, legroom in the front is excellent, as is headroom.

Toyota’s willing and free-revving 1.8 VVT-i engine is available with 140 and 189bhp in the Celica. The 140bhp doesn’t provide the full sports car experience, but is powerful enough to force a smile on backroads. It’s an engine that demands to be worked hard, with maximum power delivered at 6,400rpm on the 140bhp. The 189bhp version works even harder, reaching maximum power at 7,800rpm and can be called a true sports coupe. But the bulk of that power does come in a narrow rev-band.

Higher output models get traction control (the 140bhp model doesn’t really need it) and all cars have four airbags. It hasn’t been tested by Euro NCAP. Central locking and an alarm system with perimeter interior protection are standard.

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