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Toyota Celica GT-S 6-speed (2000)

SEE ALSO: Toyota Buyer's Guide

By Tom Hagin


     Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 21,165
     Price As Tested                                    $ 22,990
     Engine Type       VVTL-I DOHC 16-valve 1.8 Liter I4 w/SPFI*
     Engine Size                                 110 cid/1796 cc
     Horsepower                                   180 @ 7600 RPM
     Torque (lb-ft)                               133 @ 6800 RPM
     Wheelbase/Width/Length                  102.3"/68.3"/170.4"
     Transmission                               Six-speed manual
     Curb Weight                                     2521 pounds
     Fuel Capacity                                  14.5 gallons
     Tires  (F/R)                                      205/50R16
     Brakes (F/R)                          Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS)
     Drive Train                  Front-engine/front-wheel-drive
     Vehicle Type                        Four-passenger/two-door
     Domestic Content                               Five percent
     Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                               N/A


     EPA Economy, miles per gallon
        city/highway/average                            23/32/29          
     0-60 MPH                                        8.0 seconds
     1/4 Mile (E.T.)                     16.5 seconds @ 87.5 mph
     Top speed                                           130 mph
                 * Sequential multi-port fuel injection

If the all-new 2000 Toyota Celica hasn't hit your local dealer yet, it soon will. It's a seventh generation model and for 2000, the Celica comes in base GT and race-inspired GT-S versions. We elected to test the sportier of the two, of course.

OUTSIDE - The Celica is based on Toyota's XYR show car, and was penned at the company's design and research center in Southern California, which explains why the car has such a bold shape. Had it been created in Japan, chances are it would have been much less striking. It's a wonder that Toyota can stamp so many convoluted shapes into an automobile and still have it end up looking great. Its sleek profile combines smooth curves and organic shapes with sharp edges and creases. The vertical headlights are triangular in shape and have a unique bulge pressed into the clear plastic lenses. Other auto makers have incorporated fresh, bold shapes into their sportsters, but the Celica stands out more than any other coupe - except the true "exotics." The 15-inch alloy wheels are standard on the GT-S while an optional tire/wheel package adds 16-inch alloys and stickier performance tires.

INSIDE - The unique shapes of the Celica's exterior continue inside, where the arcing lines of the upper dash intersect with the "swoopy" shape of the center console. Its front bucket seats are ergonomically shaped to cradle the car's occupants and to keep them firmly planted during spirited driving. The look and feel of the interior materials is of typical Toyota quality, while a thick steering wheel and drilled aluminum pedals give further racing imagery. The instrument panel conclave houses a set of gauges that have orange numbers on a black background. And when the car is put into reverse, a beeper goes off, reminiscent of a delivery truck backing into a loading dock. The standard features list on the GT-S is impressive, with such items as power windows, door locks and mirrors, a high-power AM/FM/ cassette/CD system and variable speed wipers coming at no extra charge.

ON THE ROAD - Under the hoods are where the Celica GT and the GT-S differ. Both are powered by twin-cam, 1.8 liter four cylinder engines, but the powerplant in the GT model has a longer piston stroke and a smaller bore than the GT-S unit. It produces 140 horsepower instead of 180 as in the GT-S. Both engines utilize variable valve timing (called VVT-I on the GT model and VVTL-I on GT-S), but the systems are different. Both provide good low-end torque and fuel economy when the RPMs are low, then give additional power via variable camshaft timing on the GT and an additional set of camshaft lobes on the GT-S. It's very complex, but it works seamlessly and effectively - especially with the GT-S model and its 7600 RPM redline. GT models can be had with a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission, while the GT-S comes with a six-speed manual or a four-speed automatic with "E-Shift" steering wheel-mounted shift buttons.

BEHIND THE WHEEL - The new Celica unibody chassis adheres to the stiffer-is-better formula of car building, and on the road, the ride feels taut and well-controlled. It uses MacPherson struts up front, while the rear suspension is a high-tech double-wishbone setup. Both ends use large diameter anti-roll bars, coil springs and stiff, double- acting tube shocks. The power rack-and-pinion steering is fast and communicative, and makes the Celica a joy to pilot through twisting backroads. But a suspension that's been tuned for handling will send a high-performance message back to those inside and the GT-S does just that. The larger bumps such as highway expansion joints and potholes can't be comfortably absorbed by the Celica's suspension, but its stellar high performance handling is a worthwhile tradeoff. Braking duties are handled by four-wheel disc brakes (rear drums on GT models), while an anti-lock braking system (ABS) is optional.

SAFETY - Dual dashboard airbags and side-impact door beams are standard, while side-impact airbags and ABS are optional.

OPTIONS - ABS: $550; rear spoiler: $435; side airbags: $250; 16-inch alloy wheels: $60; floor mats: $75; destination charge: $455.