Fun Toyota Performance Models That Don’t Get The Attention They Deserve

Toyota Corolla Levin AE111

Fun Toyota Performance Models That Don't Get The Attention They Deserve
- image 1069213


Introduced in 1995, the Toyota Corolla Levin was a compact sports coupe with front-wheel drive and one of the best Toyota four-cylinder engines ever made – the 4A-GE “blacktop”. Contrary to what some believe, this version of the engine was never offered on the iconic Corolla AE86, which has rear-wheel drive. However, it is still a popular engine swap for it. The front-wheel-drive Levin AE111 came with the “blacktop” as standard.

The 1.6-liter naturally-aspirated inline-four came with 20 valves and produced 165 horsepower at 7,800 RPM and 119 pound-feet (162 Nm) at 5,600 RPM. However, it has to run on premium fuel to get these numbers. The 0 to 60 mph (97 km/h) sprint takes 7.6 seconds. Despite the great engine, lightweight, and aftermarket support, the front-wheel-drive Corolla never became as popular as its rear-wheel-drive predecessor – the “86”.

Toyota Corolla Levin AE111 specifications
Engine 1.6-liter naturally-aspirated inline-four
Power 165 HP @ 7,800 RPM
Torque 119 LB-FT @ 5,600 RPM
0 to 60 mph 7.6 seconds
Toyota Celica SS III - The Forgotten Rival to the Integra Type-R
- image 984903


When you think of the sixth-generation Toyota Celica, you probably think of the rally-bred GT-Four version, which came with all-wheel drive and a turbocharged inline-four engine. There was, however, another version, capable of competing with the iconic Acura Integra Type R – the Toyota Celica SS III. The “SS” stood for “super strut” – a special package that enhanced the suspension and chassis of the front-wheel-drive coupe.

All SS versions came with a 3S-GE engine, but the SS III featured the BEAMS version, also known as “redtop”. The 2.0-liter naturally-aspirated unit was good for 200 horsepower at 7,000 RPM and 152 pound-feet (206 Nm) at 6,000 RPM. Coupled to a close-ratio, five-speed manual, the engine propelled the Celica SS III from 0 to 60 mph (97 km/h) in 6.5 seconds – just 0.3 seconds away from the GT-Four.

Toyota Celica SS III specifications
Engine 2.0-liter naturally-aspirated inline-four
Power 200 HP @ 7,000 RPM
Torque 152 LB-FT @ 6,000 RPM
0 to 60 mph 6.5 seconds

Toyota Supra Mk IV (non-turbo)

Fun Toyota Performance Models That Don't Get The Attention They Deserve
- image 1069215


The Toyota Supra Mk IV needs no introduction. It is the ultimate embodiment of the 1990s, Toyota overengineering, mostly thanks to its exceptional, 2JZ GTE engine. But the Supra has more virtues than its incredibly potent inline-six. Aside from the six-speed manual gearbox (which is German, by the way), the Supra’s well-sorted chassis makes it a great sports car even without the twin-turbo engine.

The 2JZ GTE’s lesser counterpart, the 2JZ GE, is basically, the same engine without the forced induction. Yes, the cylinder head is different, but there have been highly-modified examples with the stock head. With 222 horsepower at 6,000 RPM and 210 pound-feet (283 Nm) at 4,800 RPM, the 0 to 60 mph (97 km/h) sprint takes 6.5 seconds on to a top speed of around 150 mph (242 km/h).

Toyota Supra MK IV specifications
Engine 2JZ GTE
Power 222 HP @ 6,000 RPM
Torque 210 LB-FT @ 4,800 RPM
0 to 60 mph 6.5 seconds
Top speed 150 mph

Toyota Corolla Compressor

Fun Toyota Performance Models That Don't Get The Attention They Deserve
- image 1069216


Before the introduction of the GR Corolla, there was not a single performance version of the Corolla from the 21st century, worthy of mentioning. However, there were some very good attempts and the closest thing to a predecessor to the GR Corolla is the Toyota Corolla Compressor. It’s based on the AE120 Corolla TS.

However, the 1.8-liter 2ZZ, inline-four unit received a supercharger, which bumped horsepower from 170 to 224 and torque from 133 pound-feet (180 Nm) to 170 pound-feet (230 Nm). The 0 to 60 mph (97 km/h) time was “shaved” from 7.7 to 6.9 seconds, with a top speed of 146 mph (235 km/h). The reason you probably haven’t heard of the Corolla Compressor is that it was a UK-only version, limited to 250 units.

Toyota Corolla Compressor specifications
Engine 1.8-liter 2ZZ, inline-four
Power 224 HP
Torque 170 LB-FT
0 to 60 mph 6.9 seconds
Top speed 146 mph

Toyota S800

Fun Toyota Performance Models That Don't Get The Attention They Deserve
- image 1069218


Toyota Super 800 is a perfect representation of Japanese motoring. It’s very small, lightweight, and nimble. It’s also Toyota’s first sports car. The production Super 800 came out in 1965 and was powered by a 790cc, 2U-B flat-twin engine that made 45 horsepower. This allowed the 1,279-pound (580 kg) sports car to reach speeds of up to 100 mph (161 km/h). The Toyota Super 800 (S800) was meant to compete with the Honda S500 that came out two years earlier, in 1963. While not much to look at, on paper, this is where Toyota’s performance car lineage started from.

Toyota Super 800 specifications
Engine 790cc, 2U-B flat-twin
Power 45 HP
Weight 1,279 lbs
Top speed 100 mph

Toyota Altezza RS200

Fun Toyota Performance Models That Don't Get The Attention They Deserve
- image 1069219


Toyota Altezza is the Japanese name of what most of us know as the Lexus IS. The first generation of the car came out in 1999 and it had a hot version known as the RS200. It came with a 3S-GE engine that was an evolution of the Celica SS III “redtop” unit. It packed 207 horsepower at 7,600 RPM and 159 pound-feet (216 Nm) at 6,400 RPM. With the six-speed manual, the 0 to 60 mph (97 km/h) sprint takes 7.2 seconds. In the rest of the world, where the car is sold as the Lexus IS, it has a version with a naturally-aspirated 2JZ.

Toyota Altezza RS200 specifications
Engine 3S-GE
Power 207 HP @ 7,600 RPM
Torque 159 LB-FT @ 6,400 RPM
0 to 60 mph 7.2 seconds
Transmission six-speed manual
Fun Toyota Performance Models That Don't Get The Attention They Deserve High Resolution Exterior
- image 701697


Before the bonkers, rally-bred Toyota GR Yaris, there was the Yaris GRMN. The third generation of the compact hatchback was the basis for another hot version. GRMN stands for “Gazoo Racing Masters of the Nurburgring”. While a bold statement. The 1.8-liter supercharged inline-four engine was good for 212 horsepower at 6,800 RPM and 184 pound-feet (249 Nm) at 5,000 RPM.

Unlike the all-wheel-drive GR Yaris, the Yaris GRMN sent power to the front wheels only, through a six-speed manual. The 0 to 60 mph (97 km/h) sprint takes around 6.2 seconds. The GRMN Yaris is even more exclusive than the GR Yaris, with only 600 units built.

Toyota Yaris GRMN specifications
Engine 1.8-liter supercharged inline-four
Power 212 HP @ 6,800 RPM
Torque 184 LB-FT @ 5,000 RPM
0 to 60 mph 6.2 seconds
Transmission six-speed manual
Top speed 143 mph

Toyota Caldina GT-Four

Fun Toyota Performance Models That Don't Get The Attention They Deserve
- image 1069220


The Toyota Caldina is a station wagon, which for the second and third generation, adopted the 3S-GTE engine from the Celica GT-Four and MR2. In the Caldina GT-Four, the engine produced 256 horsepower at 6,200 RPM and 239 pound-feet (324 Nm) at 4,400 RPM. While the 0 to 60 mph (97 km/h) sprint takes around 6.6 seconds, this is true for cars equipped with the five-speed manual.

Those, however, are quite rare and most examples have a sluggish, four-speed automatic, which becomes the only option on the third-generation Caldina. As the name suggests, the Caldina GT-Four comes exclusively as an all-wheel-drive model.

Toyota Caldina GT-Four specifications
Engine 3S-GTE
Power 256 HP @ 6,200 RPM
Torque 239 LB-FT @ 4,400 RPM
0 to 60 mph 6.6 seconds
Transmission five-speed manual

Leave a Comment