Late ‘90s chic: Toyota Carina | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, February 15, 2017 / LAST MODIFIED: 10:41 AM, August 22, 2017

Want to buy a cool, efficient, capable sedan?

Late ‘90s chic: Toyota Carina

What is it?

This week we pick the very last Carina generation: the 7th gen made from 1996 to 2001. The Carina is the same as the Corona but aimed distinctly at the youth market of Japan. So whatever pros and cons we mention about the Carina applies for the other car as well. The difference? The Corona has 11 generations before the name 'Corona' dropped to just Premio. And the Carina has performance versions. That's it.

Why this?           

It falls into a very tasty part of the budget applicable to most people looking for a cost-effective, moderately recent model car. Mind you, in Bangladesh, anything up to 15 years old is still considered young. Just like 40 year old Bangla movie actors still playing college students. Albeit the Carina is much more handsome looking and in better shape.

Features:            

It originally came with a 5A-FE 1500cc engine good for about 100hp. The Corona sometimes came with an 1800cc 7A-FE engine paired to an autobox with triple mode performance options. Sounds cool? It was just a couple of buttons that helped hold the revs longer. The creamiest version available for the Carina was the GT. It came with a 1600cc 4A-GE engine, the latest version pumping out slightly over 160hp and 120lb/ft of torque. The GT came with an auto or a 5 or 6-speed manual transmission. And did I mention pretty bodykit? 

Pros:

Excellent space for five well-padded individuals. The seats are firm and great for long journeys. The proportions of this last gen Carina are perfect, offering a low roofline and a relatively long front giving it a sleek profile. When I saw it turning up on our streets, it reminded me of a few design elements from the E36 BMW 3 series.

Interior parts are of a good quality plastic capable of taking a lot of abuse from children. Parts are available everywhere and for not a lot of money. The GT comes with thick sway bars up front, disc brakes all round and added suspension stiffening for the rear. The car handles well and remains squat. It's a fun ride, one you will not regret driving. Even the base 1.5 manual is a good drive.

Cons:    

Frankly, it has very little to go against it. The headlights aren't particularly bright after a few years. But I wouldn't suggest HID replacements, get originals. The only thing that almost never works on these cars are the power mirror retract feature. I'm yet to see a car with those working for a long time. And that's it.

Prices

Ranges from 6-7.5 lakhs. Sunroofs demand a slightly higher price but seriously, a hole in the roof just means more body flex and a future interior shower feature as the seals wear out.

Upgrade options:

For performance, there are three tried and tested options in Bangladesh. Go for a 4A-GE since this car was built for it but these engines are old. A 2.0 3SGTE is capable of pumping up to 256bhp in stock form. A newer 1.8 2ZZGE is good for just under 200hp and is superbly fuel efficient. The latter has been done man times and broken many times more to figure out all that is needed for a reliable setup. Just ask.

For economy, you can't go wrong with a 1NZ-FE engine. Every 1500cc new Toyota has one and it is super sturdy and ridiculously efficient. Combine with a manual option and you get a decent compromise of zippy performance, fun and fuel economy. 

 

Car Specs

3rd GEN 3SGTE WRC Spec motor

Mishimoto front mount Intercooler

SARD BOV

Turbosmart MBC (Boost is set to 15psi)

BOSCH boost, oil temp, oil pressure gauges

Tomei fuel pressure regulator

AEM 320lph fuel pump

OEM Radiator (1.3bar TRD radiator cap, twin fan, and a slight rise in hood level takes care of the extra heat produced by the 3SGTE)

S54-06D 5-Speed gearbox, helical LSD

De-catted custom 3-inch exhaust piping with RSR Exhaust

BC Racing adjustable coilovers

Akebono brake pads in OEM twin pot calipers 

205/40/R17 tyres 

 

 

We caught up with the owner, Abrar Hassan Khan, for a chat about his car.

 

The car has been with me for 2 years, in the beginning it had a 4AGE silvertop, then a 3SGE 4th GEN redtop and now finally it has a 3rd GEN 3SGTE WRC spec motor.

Saving the clutch is a real problem with the S54 gearbox as it requires a hybrid clutch and pressure plate setup. An aftermarket high performance clutch setup has been ordered. LSD and coilovers are a must when installing 3SGTE in a FWD layout. Although installation was hassle free; there were technical difficulties in the beginning, but parts were sourced easily.

The car is still an ongoing project. Being a student, it is very challenging for me to fund the hobby. Therefore, it takes time for me to upgrade and sort out problems that may arise. I believe the next best product that is not a mainstream name in Bangladesh might work just as well, if not better within the same price. Still, being a car enthusiast, I spend every last penny in pursuit of making things a little bit better. I believe that our cars are a reflection of our personalities, therefore I try to not make any compromises with my car.

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