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SEE ALSO:Toyota Buyer's Guide

For almost a quarter of a century Toyota's Celica has been a major player in the small sports coupe class. For five model generations it has been a benchmark in its class, and has combined sporty flair with practicality. To maintain its position Toyota has made many major revisions and refinements to its 1994 sixth generation model. It incorporates a new exterior design, as well as many safety, convenience, performance and handling improvements.

The 1994 Celica is available in two models, the ST and the GT, with two trim levels, two body styles, two transmissions and two four-cylinder powerplants. These models cover a wide range of appeal from buyers who like the looks of the Celica and don't really care how fast it can go, to those experienced drivers who prefer a car that be driven enthusiastically and competitively.

I opted to test the 1994 Celica ST Coupe, as it is fitted with the new, slightly more powerful, 1.8 liter engine, along with the new styling. It offers a good balance of looks, performance and handling.

APPEARANCE: Many of the styling cues of the newest Celica are derived from its high-performance cousin, the Supra. The most prominent changes are the new four round projector-style headlamps and the wide low air-intake in front, and the high wrap-around rear deck. Tying the new front and rear together is the classic Celica roofline. The side body presents a slight coke-bottle shape and lower body sculpture. Alloy-appearing plastic wheel covers set off the Michelin XGT4 all-season tires.

COMFORT: The ST coupe has sporty interior fittings that give it the look and feel of an entry-level luxury sport coupe. The front seats are well-bolstered and provide excellent lateral support, while the driver's seat has dial-in height adjustments. Rear seating is not commodious, but is suitable for shorter passengers. The seat backs fold down when extra interior storage space is needed. Access to the rear seats is enhanced by the tilt-and-slide front passenger seat. All controls are well-placed and the instruments are easy to see both day and night. It is equipped with power side mirrors and remote trunk and fuel door releases and a center console with cup holders. The upgrade AM/FM/cassette sound system fills the cabin with excellent fidelity, and the available air conditioner maintains an even inside temperature. Power windows and locks are available, as are cruise control and a tilt-steering wheel.

SAFETY: The 1994 Celica ST is equipped with dual front air bags, three-point seat belts all-around and side guard door beams. A four-channel anti-lock braking system is available and desirable.

ROADABILITY: The newest Celica has benefited from design improvements that have reduced its body weight by 10 percent while increasing its body rigidity by 20 percent. This new design provides a very stable platform for Toyota's four-wheel independent suspension system. The power-steering has been improved, the suspension geometry tightened, and the front and rear track has been widened. The resultant ride is sporty rather than real sport, and biased in favor of touring comfort and nimble handling on twisty roads. Special attention has been devoted to reducing NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) in order to deliver a quiet, stable ride. However, the powerful-sounding exhaust note has been retained.

PERFORMANCE: The four-cylinder, twin-cam, 16-valve, electronically fuel injected engine has been re-worked, and its displacement has been increased from 1.6 to 1.8 liters. At the same time, its power output has been upped by seven horsepower, while its EPA mileage estimates have risen. It now puts out 110 horsepower to the front wheels, via a short-throw, quick-shifting five-speed manual overdrive transmission. This revised engine is tuned for low-end torque, and it feels quite muscular in lower gears. Its a great engine for relaxed sporty touring, with a potential for sustained bursts of power.

CONCLUSIONS: In the past quarter-century the Celica nameplate has developed a following among those drivers who prefer smaller, stylish sports cars. To maintain its appeal Toyota constantly updated this popular model by developing new styling and increasing its power and performance. The 1994 sixth generation ST continues this tradition, and has a lot to offer the driver who desires a good balance of appearance, convenience and performance.


	   Base Price              $  16,168
	   Price As Tested         $  19,526
	   Engine Type             I-4, dohc-16v, mpfi
	   Engine Size             1.8 liter/108 cid   
	   Horsepower              110 @ 5600
	   Torque (ft/lbs)         115 @ 2800
	   Wheelbase/Length        100"/177"
	   Transmission            five speed manual w/od
	   Curb Weight             2400
	   Pounds per Horsepower   22
	   Fuel Capacity           16
	   Fuel Requirement        Unleaded regular (87 oct)
	   Tire                    Michelin XGT4 185/70R14 88S M+S   
	   Brake                   anti-lock optional    disc/drum    
	   Drive Train             front engine/front drive
	   EPA Economy - miles per gallon,        
	     city/highway/observed      27/34/31.2  
	   0 to 60 mph                  9.2 sec  
	   1/4 mi (E.T.)                17.3 sec  
	   Coefficient of drag (cd)     .33