From A Toyota Enthusiast

A solid defense of Toyota’s sporting credentials and the believers of same

By Bruce McCulloch

10.08.2007

The words “Toyota” and “enthusiast” go together about as well as oil and cake – or so I’m told. As a Toyota enthusiast myself, I am getting a little sick of hearing how Toyota (and affiliated) is a brand for those with little interest in cars whatsoever. So often are we (yeah, you can be sure there are at least a few of us) stereotyped as a bunch of knowledge-stricken, blindly-biased snobs with a lack of appreciation for performance, driving experience but above all else, stylistic elements – both inside and out.

Whilst I don’t think it can be denied that such individuals exist, I am most certainly not one of them and feel obliged to stand up for the rest of us Toyota enthusiasts who commonly get stereotyped as something we aren’t.

Now, admittedly I have a great deal of appreciation for Toyota products, but I’m not the biased and blind bat that I may be perceived as by stringing the words “Toyota” and “performance” together. Additionally, it’s a shame that just because I’d rather have a Lexus LS460 over a Mercedes-Benz S550, BMW 750i or Audi A8 4.2 Quattro, my credibility must be called into question.

A great many of us even have to forego a scolding because according to our rivals (on the ‘Net) “we” also apparently can’t take criticism of our favourite brand. We are just a group of biased, scathing dogmatic maniacs with little sense. Well, I hate to break it to the master critics, but I personally haven’t any concern with criticism of Toyota and Lexus. I very much welcome criticism of my favourite brand – as any good fanatic should – and even like to offer my personal criticism to boot. That, in my humble opinion, is the difference between a fanatic and a so-called “fanboy”. But then that in itself is a whole different ball of wax, and as well we all know, fanboys exists for every brand. It is important to remember that Toyota isn’t the only brand with them scoundrels.

Furthermore, I am one who actually cares about both exterior and interior styling, performance and yes, even driving experience. Of course, I freely admit it, if you’re looking for a performance car the Camry is going to be the last thing you look at it, but that’s not to say Toyota hasn’t had its fair share of entertaining vehicles – even though most think such a fact is absolutely impossible. True, Toyota doesn’t have a great deal of “sporty cars” at the moment, but does that mean we should just forget about the Supra & MR2? The latter of which was once one of the most entertaining and exciting drivers car on the market; specifically the ’88 supercharged model which was guaranteed to bring a smile on the face of anyone. Resembling the size of a shoe, with a kerb weight similar to that of a loaf of bread (998kg for the Japanese market, 1066kg for the American market) and a supercharged four-cylinder motor mated to a chassis co-developed with Lotus, it was an absolute hoot to drive. No doubt, later models were considerably softer than the AW11 (the code name for the late 80’s MR2’s), but still very much offered an enjoyable drive.

And though the Supra may have been a heavy (and nose-heavy) beast and one notably lacking the driving excitement of such vehicles as the MR2, it always was good fun, and still makes for an enjoyable drive to this day. The late 80’s, early 90’s Mark2 was an excellent vehicle – both solid and surefooted in its execution.

Additionally, there are even a few “sporty cars” throughout Toyota’s history that are often ignored; like the wonderful and beautiful sports car that was the 2000 GT, and the last generation Cressida. I don’t think there should be any question as to why I mention the 2000 GT. This was a fantastic little sports car, even if it was slightly underpowered when compared to its rivals from across the world. And it is simply the most attractive sports car that has ever come out of Japan, period.

I, however, could understand if you question my mention of the Cressida as it’s a car considered to be styled in a manner resembling a stone brick. Most would tell you it’s about as interesting as one too, but I’d beg to differ. Oh yes, strip away that simple exterior – which I quite like for the record – and you’ve got a highly involving car. Precise steering, a chuckable chassis, decent handling and a road-connected feel like few other Toyotas. And actually, in my opinion, nearly comparable to a BMW E34 5-Series of the same vintage. My great experience with Toyota’s can attest to the 1990 Cressida being amongst the most involving and entertaining Toyota’s to drive – even though you’d never know it by looking at it’s plain-jane exterior. And hell, I haven’t even mentioned the various selections of Celicas…

That all being said, I do believe it’s important for critics to look at Toyota’s past history before being overly critical of the company’s operations and philosophy. Conversely, I do realize we are not living in the 1980’s and 1990’s anymore and this means I must move on. Nowadays it’s clear that Toyota has pretty much attempted to rid their line-up of any real fun and exciting cars – specifically those which are RWD – so that they can obviously promote the Lexus brand. And even with that particular brand there isn’t a whole lot of sport to be found, quite frankly; just about everything and anything they have is focused on luxury, but one should mention their compact IS saloon. Yeah, it’s not quite as exciting or intoxicating as some of their previous vehicles (from a drivers point of view in my eyes), but it still offers a more than somewhat decent and sporty ride.

Let’s not forget about the very near future. What greater display of talent from Toyota’s fine engineers could you ask for than by displaying their arriving-soon performance flagship, the “IS-F”? With a top speed on the north side of 170 mph and 5.0 litre V8 pushing 423bhp and an insane 372lb-ft of torque you can be sure it’ll be won’t fail to bring a smile to its driver. Will it be as fun and entertaining as the BMW M3 and/or Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG? Maybe, maybe not – that remains to be seen, but you can count on an entertaining drive no doubt.

And lastly, but certainly not least, I am a Toyota/Lexus enthusiast who has a great deal of appreciation for all automobiles – no matter the make, no matter the type. The automotive world does not start and end with my favorite manufacturer, as it does with so many other single-make fans. For instance, and as I’ve made evident in the past, I am a great admirer and fan of exotics/supercars; specifically the crazier ones.

Can the words “Toyota” and “enthusiast” ever co-exist? Is such a union possible? Is it logical? Most certainly, and as I mentioned up top, you can be sure there are more than a few of us out there.

COPYRIGHT Autosavant.net – All Rights Reserved

Author: Brendan Moore

Brendan Moore is a Principal Consultant with Cedar Point Consulting , a management consulting practice based in the Washington, DC area. He also manages Autosavant Consulting, a separate practice within Cedar Point Consulting. where he advises businesses connected to the auto industry. Cedar Point Consulting can be found at http://www.cedarpointconsulting.com.

Share This Post On

13 Comments

  1. All I can say is that it’s about time. I am constantly defending my car enthusiast legitimacy because I also happen to love Toyotas. As far as most people are concerned, it is not possible to be an auto enthusiast and love Toyotas. Those are two opposite ends of the universe according to most people.

  2. People on the Internet who continually say that Toyota is for those who have no interest in cars are narrow-minded, ignorant individuals with a lack of automobile history and knowledge, simple as that.

    Also to add, Toyota has recently made a committee to create “interesting cars”. Lexus now has the F sub-brand which we will see some exciting cars. There are definitely some exciting cars coming from Toyota that will be under the Toyota brand, not just the Lexus brand.

  3. The 2000 GT was a stunning piece of design. It’s a beautiful car.

  4. Also to add, Toyota has recently made a committee to create “interesting cars”.

    I laughed out loud when I read this. What a typical Japanese solution! We’ll set up a commitee! That’s a good way to inspire interesting design. No wonder their cars are so boring.

  5. Toyota can make any kind of car they want, and if sports cars were their focus, then they would make some of the finest sports in the world. Maybe the best in the world. It’s just not their thing right now, that’s all. They are churning towards world domination, so they’re a little busy these days.

  6. I don’t think many of you will be laughing when a RWD Toyota-branded sports car hits the streets, along with the Lexus supercar.

  7. Granted, there may be people like this author that love Toyotas and are auto enthusiasts as well; they know and love cars in general. I’ll give you that. But how many can there be among the people that profess to love Toyotas? I think it’s being generous to say that these sorts of people make up 1% of the Toyota-loving population. The attributes that make people love their Tyotas are not the things that make car enthusiasts swoon with desire. Quite the opposite.

    Whereas, what is the percentage of those same types of people among those that love BMWs or Porsches, or, for that matter, even Volkswagens? Throw out the poseurs and the status-buyers, for say, BMW, and I bet that percentage in still in the 40’s, at least.

  8. Since when is 372 Ft/lbs of torque an “insane” amount? I do believe that the Pontiac GTO produces 400 and that’s considered normal for a V8. I guess it’s just that no one knew a Japanese car could produce that much.

  9. It’s sad to me that there even needs to be an apologist for Toyota’s sports cars. They’re brilliant beasts one and all, and even in my mind (I can be a bit of a Toyota-hater sometimes) they need very little in the way of explanation– just try finding a decent Toyota Supra of any generation for cheap.

    This is a bit of a hairline omission, but your article brings to my mind the original Lexus SC300/400, a technological tour-de-force for its day and an arguably handsome (if conservative) design. It was never meant to be a fierce sports car, but if you ever find one, drive it. Even the high-mile SC’s are a kick in the pants to drive.

  10. Yes, there were some Toyotas made that were fun to drive, but, honestly, The Toyota line is pretty low on thrills for the most part. It’s just transporation, it’s not exciting to look at, it’s not exciting to drive, in short, a Toyota is a great car for someone that doesn’t like cars very much in general. Or cares so little about cars that they may as well dislike them.

    Let’s be honest here, people!

    My 71 year-old mother loves her Toyota Camry because it never breaks down and she thinks it looks “pretty nice”. Her sister (my aunt) likes her Toyota Avalon because it reminds her of the Oldsmobile 88 (x3) she drove for years, except that it never needs repair. She thinks her car is “beautiful”. But as much as I love both of them, I can tell you that what both of them together know about cars could not make a decent paragraph. And their driving styles can both be kindly described as a devastating combination of slow and distracted.

    That’s what I think of when I think of Toyota and I think that’s what comes to mind for a lot people when they think of Toyota cars.

  11. What do you think of the Toyota Blade Master G, recently released in Japan? It would seem an obvious candidate for “exciting car” — but then Toyota goes and makes it only with front wheel drive and automatic transmission. With AWD and a stick it would be awesome. It’s like Toyota is sabotaging itself.

  12. Being principled can be a painful character flaw. Toyota AND The NHTSA dropped the ball with the ‘Blown Head Gasket’ problems of the last two generations of The Cressida – I own a ’90 and a ’91, the former a true gift from someone who loved his automobile ‘a little too much’ but it was to my advantage, when I bought it for $1,000 over market – Near Mint Condition, two years ago. I keep the ’91 for Parts, and although a pleasure to drive the ’90, not a minute goes by without me expecting to see that ominous movement of The Coolant Gauge Needle going North. Toyota KNEW the Torque Specs for the Head/Block Bolts were too Low, and did absolutely nothing about it. And, to top it off, denied the existence of ‘the inherent problem’ and refused to help those THOUSANDS of Cressida Owners who thought it was just THEIR car with the problem. On Principle I would never purchase another Toyota.
    Doc Walker, Miami, Fla

  13. 1990 Cressida? That was made 18 years ago! How is it relevant to a discussion about current/future Toyota cars?

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.