GRAN TURISMO CAR REVIEWS

1982 Toyota Starlet Turbo-S

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starlet_front.jpeg


SPEX

Year: 1982
Class: Subcompact
Type: 3-door hatchback
 
Country: Japan ````````````````````````````````````` Host: GT2
 
 
Price as Tested: $3,535
Length: 146.65" // Width: 60" // Height: 53.93"
wheelbase: 90.5"
Overhang: 4' 7"
Track: ?
Ground Clearance: 6.29"
Weight: 1,565 lbs.
Layout: Front Engine / rear drive
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Tires: ?
F. suspension: strut / coils
R. Suspension: 4-link / coils
Brakes: solid disc / drums
 
Engine: 1290 cc OHV inline 4
Aspiration: Normal? Turbo?
 
Tested HP: ````71 @ 5,700 rpm
Tstd Torque:
76 @ 3,500 rpm
 
Pound to Power: 22
Hp per Liter: 55
Credit 2 HP: $49.78
 
Fuel system: 1 carburetor
Valves / cyl: 2?
Bore x Stroke: ?
Compression: ?
Redline: 5,500 // RPM Limit: 6,000
 
0-60 mph: 16 seconds
0-100mph: 1:00.180
 
400 M:   20.787 @ 67 mph
1 Kilom:
37.592 @ 86 mph
 
Test Track: 2:29.228
 
Top Speed at Redline
1st: 23 mph (estimated)
2nd: 42 mph
3rd: 66 mph
4th: 99 mph
5th:111.45 @ 5,700 rpm
 


  
 

----------------EXTERIOR / HISTORY-----------------

The Starlet, sold in North America as the Tercel, was one of Toyota's first small steps towards the global domination we see today. Also known as the KP60, the '82 Starlet/Tercel can be bought and raced in GT2!
 
The Starlet Turbo S was my very first GT2 car! I'm not like a lot of folks who jump into the game, needing a million credits, lots of FAQ cheats, and all gold licenses in 10 days or something; I'm more of an explorer, which means leaving few stones unturned, even if they turn out to be uh....less than fruitful. *clears throat*
 
I quickly got frustrated with the Starlet, though...couldn't even make 5th place at Tahiti's Sunday Cup! Recently, I returned to the Starlet, thinking that maybe my skills are better nowadays. Sure enough, I'm now able to manage a win in this car at Tahiti using the same power & parts as when I first started GT2, but it's still a struggle.
 
I'll bet there are thousands like me all over the world. Okay, at least hundreds! The Starlet is a tempting buy, especially for those who are swayed by cute looks, so it's likely many others have made this their first, and then after a few days (and a few losses), moved on to something better. But since we're here, let's look at why this car sucks.
 
Actually, here's a couple reasons it doesn't suck:

Reason #1 is weight. The Starlet is already light. You won't need any reductions for it. Instead, you can focus on other parts of the car (basically, focus on everything BUT its weight!).
 
Reason #2: the Starlet is cheap. You can therefore modify it from day one...though you still won't win much, even if you're good.

And it is a rather unique hatchback with its circular lights, hood-mounted mirrors, and pinstripe detailing. But can anyone tell us why the Starlet is sold with a 'jetliner silver' paintjob even though it's light green?
 
 

--------------ENGINE / DRIVETRAIN--------------

Okay, is this or is it not a turbo? I'm leaning towards 'not'. There seems to be a real lack of info about this little hatch on the 'net (big surprise), and after visiting about 20 websites, I gave up. Even the mighty Wikipedia provides few answers.
 
Anyways, anyone with half a brain will quickly realise that the Starlet 'turbo' S is a real sloth. Even after buying Stage 1 tuning, port / polish, semi-racing aspiration, and the computer, the car still struggles. At this point, the Starlet is pushing 104 hp at its max of 6,000 rpm. An experienced player can safely win the Tahiti Sunday Cup and the free K-car race at this level, and I somehow managed to win at Hi-Speed Ring, but the novice should just move on. The Toyota Starlet wasn't made to be a race car, after all. It's barely even a good highway car!
 
Things change once we have Stage 3 tuning though. Fully charged, a whole new world opens up for the Starlet, which maxes at 177 hp. One can achieve a power to weight ratio of about 8.0, and it can be surprising how much further the Starlet Turbo S can go with this power, even though it still seems meager. With full racing parts, the tiny engine suddenly packs a happier growl instead of the quiet hum we've been used to.
 
Gearing is good, except that 3rd is too short and 4th too tall, leading to awkward moments when one is trying to push this car up a hill at about 60+ mph while trying to fight traffic. Also, downshifting into 3rd from 4th should be avoided at crucial moments. The car'll lose speed..it's better to just leave the Starlet in 4th and rely on brakes, unless you're below 65 mph.
 
Another issue is the redline. As the engine is upgraded, max power is typically around 6,000 rpms. Unfortunately, the redline is at 5,500...and this means very careful shifting. When using an auto-tranny, the Starlet is only gonna hit peak HP when it gets into 5th gear, and of course it'll be over-revving by then, too!
 
This car has a really light back end and is prone to sliding. It seems that a 1.5 differential back there might be a good idea if you can afford it early on. The good news is: with the right parts (and therefore a lot of money spent), the Starlet will become a winner. A sim Starlet keeps up with the pack in the '80s races after all. Just steer clear of '82 Starlet Turbos if you're a beginner with few credits to your name.
 

----------------CHASSIS / HANDLING---------------

It seems odd but true: many hatchbacks used to have rear-wheel drive. Nowadays, ALL of them are front or all-wheel drive, except for the Renault Clio Sport V6, which is more of a performance car rather than an everyday grunt. And so it's interesting.........sometimes frustrating, to race the Starlet turbo S, which will power-oversteer as easily as a high-horse Viper at times.
 
Oversteer is our main concern, and it comes in many fun packages. There's the throttle-induced RWD variety. There's the sliding "oh sh!t, was I supposed to brake yet?" variety. And finally, there's loss of rear lateral grip, which happens to be the least common...only because the Starlet doesn't usually make the sort of speed necessary for simple grip-loss to occur, unless it's hurled around or something. Understeer happens too, but it's the oversteer that is dangerous.
 
It's advisable to get the sports suspension package, apply 3 or 4 to the damper settings, and give the front and rear wheels some camber, but no more than about 2. It's amazing how much this can improve the car's behavior even before we get Sport tires. Plus, it's about 2,000 credits less to get a sport suspension than it is to get sport tires if I'm not mistaken. But with sports tires, the Starlet gets more grip, but also becomes very twitchy, especially below 70 mph; and this can make it difficult to set up before entering corners, sometimes.
 
With full engine tuning, it will spin on-cue (or off-cue). The short wheelbase and narrow track width aren't helping here at all. Do we really need to break down and get racing slicks, now? Awww, man.
 
 

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PROS

1). SAVE SAVE SAVE!! YOUR LOCAL TOYOTA DEALER WANTS TO GiVe YOU THIS CAR WITH 0% APR FINACNING AND NO CREDIT CHECK!!! ANYTHING TO GET THIS ONE OFF our LOT AND INTO YOUR GARAGE!!!! IT'S TOYOTA'S YEAREND SALE-A-THON!!!
 
2). Definately a cutie.
 
3). The rear-wheel drive Starlet drives and handles differently from other hatchbacks, and therefore can be a challenge, especially for drift-lovers.
 
4). Easily affordable modifications (if you've got some money saved). Stage 2 tuning advised for maximum wins in many series. Stage 1 (with street exhaust) will allow wins at Tahiti and the B and A license Kei-car races.
 
5). Weight reductions are optional since the Starlet is already a flyweight. Race kit available (GT2).
 

CONS

1). What a weakling! Stage 1 tuning is easily affordable, but you'll only be able to safely win a few races with it (Tahiti Sunday Cup and the Kei-car events).
 
2). Poor handling, tempermental steering, easy spin-outs. Don't let the lack of power fool you; this one can barely handle itself when totally stock.
 
3). Tires have poor lateral grip, leading to some understeer, lots of oversteer, and lots of sliding. This car (despite its low power) is definitely NOT for beginners.
 
4). Money will need to be spent on racing transmission, sports suspension & tires, brake upgrades.... many other hatchbacks will outhandle the AI with their stock parts...not an '82 Starlet.
 
5). Stage 2 power will give a nice boost, but will also compound the handling problems.
 
6). 5,500 rpm redline? [sarcasm]This car has "performance" written all over it! [/sarcasm]
 
7). 3rd gear too short, 4th is too tall. Go race this car...you'll see what I mean...to cure this you will need a racing tranny. Close gear transmissions are too short and useless on most tracks (even some of the short tracks).

 

Published: September 1st, 2004
 

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