Toyota Altezza RS200 Opinion

I am very interested in the possibility of new sporting Toyota models for the U.S. market in the near future. I am commited to Toyota as a company, and sincerely enjoy the Toyota I own now, an AE86 Corolla GT-S. I have considered buying a new car on many occasions, and my commitment to Toyota is strong enough that I keep looking to Toyota when I think of new cars. I test drove the Celica GT-S when it came out, and thought about it long and hard. I like the way Toyota manages to combine value, mechanical strength and reliability, a very sporting character, and most importantly, a rear-wheel-drive coupe that is fun-to-drive! If a new Toyota in this same vein were available, I would buy it in a heartbeat. The MR-Spyder, Celica GT-S, upcoming Matrix (AKA JDM Corolla RunX,) and Lexus IS300 are all exciting vehicles, and I applaud the direction Toyota has been heading with these new additions to a more staid lineup. The sporting nature of these models is attractive to me; however, my main interest is in a basic, affordable, four-cylinder, rear-wheel-drive closed coupe, a car missing from the current Toyota lineup, and from the American market as a whole. With a modern interpretation of the classic AE86 Corolla, Toyota could command this currently untapped segment of the automotive market. I would suggest looking at the Japanese market Toyota Altezza RS200 as a source of inspiration or potential starting point. I had high hopes that the Lexus IS300 would be the car for me, but after test-driving it, I found that it is too expensive, too luxury, and not sporting enough for me. If I wanted a car in this vein (near-luxury sports sedan) there are other offerings on the market, and I would have bought one of those already. Please consider a “new AE86” when developing future Toyota models; my money is waiting for a car of this type!

Do you have similar views? Would you like to share them with Toyota? I can provide you with information on how to contact Toyota yourself if you are that ambitious. I would appreciate feedback on the idea of a petition we could all sign and submit to Toyota. I may start working on a form on this very page, where you could simply fill in your name to be added to the “signatures” on this “petition.” Please let me know if you have any ideas or suggestions. What I need most is to hear from those of you who would just like to have your “Me too!” opinion counted.

 

A message to the auto industry from me:

I don’t want front-wheel drive. Stubborn, I admit, but still not a negotiable point. Swallow the fact that it isn’t quite as cheap to produce, and give me a few rear-wheel drive options. I can live with a driveshaft tunnel; there are a few consumers out there who are not searching for the maximum interior space possible…just witness the sales success of the new VW Beetle. Another good plus of rear-wheel drive is that a longitudinal engine is easier and more accesible to work on…see, packaging doesn’t always rule the day. What’s that? Oh, I do have a few rear-wheel drive choices on the market? Yes, but if I wanted a BMW or a Miata, I would have bought one already. If I wanted a car that is trying desperately to be a Miata or a BMW in all but name, I would have bought a BMW or a Miata already. My ideal car is a small sedan or better yet, a small 2+2 coupe. Affordably priced, simple, entry-level, usable everyday sporty car with a real roof and a serious performance bent. And since this is my car, I want it small. What is a small car? Not much longer than 165 inches, not much wider than 60 inches, and around 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine. Despite what some older Americans may tell you, a 2.8 or 3.0-liter six-cylinder is not a small car. And I don’t want it to be one of these cars that starts out as a 2000-pound 1.5-liter small car, and through a process of several “updates” and “improvements” becomes a 3000-pound 2.2-liter medium-sized car. A Suzuki Swift is a good example of a car that has remained true to it’s original inception. A four-cylinder VW GTI is another example of a car that has remained small. The BMW 3-series is an excellent example of a car that has succumbed to excess over time. At least new Honda Civics aren’t too heavy, but they have gotten bigger than the old Accords, for crying out loud! Next time you are in a parking lot, look around for Accords or Camrys. It shouldn’t be hard to find a few to compare a 10-15 year old example to the newest ones…take a look at the growth…hideous! Size aside, the Mitsubishi Eclipse and Honda CRX/Del Sol are perfect examples of innocent sporty cars that the corporation decided should be spanked for being such rowdy kids, and molded into a good citizen adult everyone can like. If a car isn’t too big or heavy, a 1.3-1.8 liter engine in a sporting state of tune should be enough to make it reasonably fast and fun to drive. In the Eighties, we had quite a few choices of cars in this size range. These days, engines are better than ever, but I am hard pressed to think of more than one or two cars that are still under 1.8 liters.

Four cylinder rear-wheel-drive cars on the market today: Let’s see, there’s the Miata, not a reasonable all-around car in the Pacific Northwest. The new Toyota MR2…ditto. Ummm….let’s see….The Honda S2000…a lot of car at a lot of money, and once again, a convertible. (Why, oh why didn ‘t Honda follow up on the plans to make the new Integra a coupe on the S2000 platform? They would have gotten my vote for doing so…Instead we get the RSX, another bigger, blander, “more refined” more expensive…ugh!) Uhhh, I can’t think of anything else…can you?

OK, OK….I know, I know, modern crash-safety standards and engine management systems make cars heavier. How to combat this? Give us some options we can use. Fight the heft by ditching all the useless stuff. No power accesories inside the car…I don’t want power door locks, power windows, or power seats. Climate control?…save us all the weight and expense please. Gold trim does not interest me in any way. I don’t need cruise control, sunroof, power steering, A/C, cupholders, drive-by-wire throttles, power mirrors, heated seats, etc. (This car is looking cheaper and cheaper to produce every minute.) Like I said, give us enthusiasts some options we could use…think along the lines of Dodge’s ACR (American Club Racer) package on the Neon, or Honda’s Integra Type R. Give us some swaybars, shocks…a handling package. A heated power moonroof? No thanks, how about a close-ratio gearbox instead? Or perhaps a choice of two final-drive ratios? Think limited-slip differential….OK? Look at any of Toyota’s GT-S cars from the eighties for inspiration. (healthy twincam motor, LSD, shocks, springs, swaybars, close-ratio tranny, ventilated disc brakes, sports seats, lower final drive in a basic Corolla, FX16, Celica, etc.) Saving all this weight is a great way to get good performance, and light weight cars are more fun to drive. Light weight cars are usually simple, and simple, light cars usually make performance mods easy and noticeable. Don’t believe that there are people who have these same values? Although they are FWD, look at the number of people who still choose older Civics or Rabbit GTI’s to modify for performance and drive every day.

And please, make the options just that…options. I am particular about the way I want a car, and every time I have gone to peruse new cars lately, I come away thinking about how much modification I would have to do straight out of the box to get the car driveable. I am immensely frustrated by lack of build-to-order availability on new cars. I can understand that the dealer won’t have every combination in stock, but when it isn’t even available? Come on, get your poo in a pile…look at new Volvos for an example of how it should be done. Having a choice of two “packages” does not constitute options. What do you mean I have to get the leather seats to get a manual transmission? Oh, that’s the “sports” package. No…I want manual windows, manual transmission, and cloth seats, and I am willing to wait several weeks. I want the alloy wheels, but not the power seats…and that doesn’t exist either? I guess if you want to continue to miss my money, you can keep telling me that my combination doesn’t exist and can’t be built. If the dealer wants to try and convince me to take the one on the lot, that’s the dealer’s choice, but I won’t buy a new car until the set of options I want is available somewhere, by some means other than buying two new cars and doing it myself.

 

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