Toyota Carina/Corona

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1989 Toyota Carina racing the '80s Challenge in GT4

Year: 1989-1996 
Class: Compact
 Type: 4-door sedan

Country: Japan 
Host: GT1, GT2, GT4 & GT5

Price: $6,072 (GT4 used car lot, Carina ED 2.0X 4WS)
          $10,983 (GT5 used car lot, same Carina)

*all specs & testing currently for the Carina 2.0 in GT4 & GT5

GT5 Mileage: 45,873.7

Length: 176.6" // Width: 66.5" // Height: 51.2"
Wheelbase: 99.4"
Overhang: @ 6 feet 5 inches
Track: 57.7" [F] 56.3" [R]
Ground Clearance: 6.3"
Body Construction: unit steel
Weight: 2,647 pounds

Drag Coefficient: 0.360 (real-life)
Steering: power assisted rack & pinion
Layout: Front Engine / Front Drive
Tires: 185/65R-14 85S
F. Suspension: MacPherson struts, coils, anti-roll bar
R. Suspension: MacPherson struts, coils, anti-roll bar, 4-wheel steering

Brakes: vented discs / solid discs + ABS

Engine: 2.0 liter DOHC inline-4
Aspiration: normal
Fuel System: EFi
Valves / Cyl: 4
Bore x Stroke: 3.39 x 3.39"
Compression: 9.3:1

Tstd Horsepower: 123 @ 5,600 rpm        121 @ 5,500
Tested Torque: ````
124 @ 4,400 rpm         122 @ 4,500

Credits per HP:    $49.36                             $90.77
Pounds per HP:     21.52                              21.85
Hp per Liter: `````````61.5                                60.6

GT4 Idle: 550 // Redline: 6000 // RPM Limit: 6,500

GT5 Idle: 625 // Redline: 6,000 // RPM Limit: 6,500 

Transmission: 5-speed automatic
Differential: open

* GT4 car was tested with oil change + Medium Sport tires

*GT5 car was tested with oil change + Medium Comfort tires

0-60 mph: 11.500 seconds             11.141 seconds
0-100mph: 29.9xx seconds            30.510 seconds

400 M: 18.404 @ 79 mph                 18.262 @ 79
1 KM:   
32.729 @ 105 mph               32.820 @ 102

Test Track: 3:01.833                            

Brakes: 100 to zero: 3.90 seconds     5.5 seconds

Top Gear RPM @ 60 mph: 2,400

Top Speed at Redline (GT4)
1st: 28 mph
2nd: 50 mph
3rd: 89 mph
4th: 111 mph
5th: 130.5 mph @ 5,450 rpm

Top Speed at Redline (GT5)
1st: 29.8 mph
2nd: 48.8 mph
3rd: 77.0 mph
4th: 108.8 mph
5th: 129.8 mph @ 5,500 rpm


At one time, before Lexus branched off from Toyota to become its fancier twin, the Carina/Corona was a poor-man's luxury car...a step up from the ever-popular Corolla. Going back even further, it's interesting to learn that this model was originally made in 1956 because Toyota wanted to build a car that could be converted into a taxi, and their Crown and Master models weren't large enough.

In the games, there are a couple versions represented: in GT1 & 2 we have the 1996 Toyota Corona Exiv 200GT, and in GT4 & 5 there's the 1989 Carina ED 2.0X 4ws. According to some confusing info I've read at Wikipedia and other websites, the Corona seems to be the worldwide version of this car (found in Australia and Europe, sometimes in the Americas), while the Carina was produced mostly in Japan. Both of these models are essentially similar enough to be of the same species. Furthermore, do any of you really care? Well, I kinda do...just 'cause I need to get my facts straight. But I'm sure most of you don't, which is fine.

We never had Coronas or Carinas or any version of either under a different name in the United States so far as I can tell, (it took me a LOT of research to come to this conclusion, folks; almost 15 minutes of web-surfing {har har} -- and still I'm not entirely sure about it) so to me it seems these sedans fall somewhere between a Toyota Camry and a Lexus ES. In any event, this is not a sports sedan by any stretch.

In the games, prices vary. GT1 has the Corona Exiv at just over $20,000. This incarnation (which happens to be the 8th generation of the Corona line) can only be bought new in GT1. In GT2 it's priced lower and is now in the used lot, since by 1999 when GT2 was released, the Corona was about to become outdated. The Corona appears infrequently as a used car. Matter of fact, as I wrote this review, I'm stumped to remember ever seeing one for sale, yet according to Pupik's website - - it is definately in GT2.

The Corona is one of the many cars that wasn't carried over to the 3rd game. No surprise. And in GT4 and 5 there apparently are no Coronas, but the Carina ED 2.0X 4WS can be found in the used lot for just a few thousand credits. 

The Carina/Corona is one of those cars made for the urban yuppie, who perhaps wishes a touch of luxury in a car that's basically a practical go-getter. He or she wants to look like he's got some class, but in reality hasn't got as much money as a BMW or even a Lexus driver. These cars are geared towards those who have some money to spend on car payments, and want something that is going to last for years. What we have here is really not a race mobile, in other words. That's what I mean to say.

Despite all these criticisms, the Corona or Carina (try saying that fast five or six times) is an inoffensive everyday vehicle. So far as the pounds go, it's not too heavy for a 4-door (compare it to a newer Infiniti or Lexus sedan, for instance). In the first game, weight reductions don't take much off till you get the 3rd one, but the first two are worth buying. These will take the pounds from 2,645 pounds down to 2,248. In GT2, race-kitted cars remain a bit heavier as expected, at 2,358 pounds. Oddly, GT5 gets a non-race car down even farther: 2,252

Since (to me and most others) this branch of Toyota-dom seems to wallow in obscurity, let's find out why it was included in GT games in the first place.

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

The standard 2.0 liter DOHC 4-cylinder found under the hood is one built for both fuel-economy and pep; it has just enough torque to get past that semi on the highway with ease, but is nothing intimidating on an actual race track. Not we're about to take it to some race tracks...

This is a typical Japanese 4-banger engine, low on power till higher revs kick in, and then it's still low when compared to many others of Gran Turismo. It can't be turbocharged unless you've got the Carina in GT4 or 5, but can be fully NA tuned in 3 steps in all four games this car appears in. Full Stage 3 NA tuning is expensive, costing over three times what the car is worth, yet the tuned engine doesn't behave much different than the standard one. It's just faster. Carinas in the 4th game suffer from serious turbo-lag followed by a wallop of boost, even when using just a 2nd stage unit. I'm finding that the Carina in GT5 only suffer a bit of lag (not much) if the high-range RPM turbo is equipped. Otherwise, there basically is no discernable lag. 

In GT1, the only transmission you'll ever need is the close-ratio one, since this car doesn't do well in faster events; but in GT4/5, the Carina is more suited for racing, so stock gears can be used along with closer ones, depending which track you're at. It's not necessary to get super-close gearing since the Corona has a 155 mph top speed (unmodified) which it will only reliably hit once it's got all the racing parts. And really, does anyone really want to get all the racing parts for this car? I mean, one big exception is in the Super Touring Series of GT2, which features low-powered cars with racing kits, but that's pretty much it. Notice that whenever Coronas or Carinas appear as a sim vehicle, they're always portrayed as losers!

I would (and have) spent more time with the Carinas in GT4 & 5, though. There's something totally dope about racing a "super-Camry"!


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

The spec sheet from Gran Turismo's dealer (GT1 or 2) happily tells us that the Corona Exiv borrows its chassis and suspension parts from the Celica, which should make it handle with sporty ease around any track. Here is the car's strength, it seems. Hmm.

The car's coil springs are naturally stiff enough to make things solid for the most part, but unfortunately, all of this isn't so obvious when the car is bought straight off the lot in GT1. Understeer is relentless. At times, it seems everything is in slow-motion as you round a turn WITHOUT gas, and still find yourself plowing towards the sand traps. Weight reductions help a lot, as well as a better suspension. In fact, this car can be raced with its stock tires once the weight is reduced, and it will do okay. Understeer will still occur, but it will be vastly reduced. I have no experience driving the Corona Exiv from GT2, but my guess is that it isn't as drastic, simply because cars in GT2 typically feel "tamer". I'm guessing slightly more understeer, basically.

Now check this out. The Carina of GT4 really behaves itself in comparison to a GT1 Corona or some other front-drives found in GT4. There is none of the front-end "shudder" or skipping one might expect under acceleration; and with proper braking beforehand, the Carina ED usually pulls out of corners with monorail-like intensity. It really gets down to business is what I mean to say. Although I'm adding the GT4 portion of the review a full 3 years after I wrote the original text, I must say I can't describe the Carina's understeer as "relentless" as I did when I drove the Corona in GT1.

I've driven the Carina of GT5 quite a lot, since it was one of my character's first rides. In this game, understeer is back to being "relentless", but this assumes the car's stock Medium Comfort tires are equipped. Soft rubber will diminish this pushing, but only a tad. Understeer plagues us on entry, mid-corner, and sometimes late corner, assuming the driver gets a little too throttle happy. Actually, it doesn't take much to push this car outside its boundaries and into some grass. Small taps of gas mid-corner guarantee understeer, unfortunately.

All of this assumes Comfort tires are attached, though. With Sports, a huge amount of understeer gets eliminated. The Carina now regains that "monorail" feeling of GT4. Traction (even with Comforts) is usually at a premium, assuming power is near-stock. There isn't much power to be had in this car, of course, which means any issues we encounter later on with upgrades can easily be dealt with. Once we're equipping some turbo and NA kits, a limited-slip differential is something that will be needed, to avoid inner-wheelspin. By the time we've got just under 200 horses, it's just a good idea to start tuning with some LSD, assuming you want to gain some positions at the right moment.  

But there's something about this car when it's not suffering understeer. The Carina always has this sort of precise feeling while cornering. This version of the Carina (there are several Carinas in real-life) has a "4WS" designation in its name, which lends us a clue. What does this mean? 

In the '80s and early '90s, some of Japan's carmakers were experimenting with "4-wheel steering"; either in mechanical form (as found in some Honda Preludes) or as an electronic system (as found in some Skylines with Super-HICAS). I believe Polyphony Digital managed to model 4-wheel steering into the Carina for GT4. As a front-drive sedan, it certainly has great maneuverability, especially in longer, sweeping curves. No it's not perfect, but it has some positive qualities worth mentioning.

In early GT games (GT1 or 2), the car's large overhangs can be used to gather a bit of sway-oversteer, if that's your thing. Before weight reductions, the Corona Exiv will have major problems with feint-motion, especially thru S-turns. It can be hard keeping the car going in the direction we're wanting to go without body-sway interrupting the flow, in other words. This oversteer in a Corona Exiv 200GT is common in GT1 or 2, and largely absent from the Carina ED from GT4 or 5.

The FWD mechanism, weight, and body make this car not as prone to grabbing as other front-drives. As long as the front tires aren't too sticky, the understeer that the Corona naturally induces will be comfortable.

Brakes are somewhat weak in early games (but oddly strong in GT4) so that the car might need a brake controller device if you're planning to race in the Clubman or FWD series of earlier games. I am noticing that in GT5, braking essentially feels nice and terrible; just what is expected in a car made for suburban and highway commuting (rather than tearing up some tracks). Again, it only gets better once we ditch those flexy radial tires for some stiff-walled sports.  

Final prognosis? Not a race car. Not really race-worthy, but it's possible to win a few in these. A definite sleeper. That's what I mean to say.


1). Nicely priced.

2). One of the lighter sedans.

3). A used or new car with many different color schemes to choose from. 

4). The Carina 2.0x 4WS in GT4 & 5 handles curves with some finesse once you've got a Sports suspension. Its stock parts are supposedly shared by the almighty front-drive Celica of its time. 

5). Race kit available GT1 or GT2.

6). Great brakes (for a preppy sedan) on the Carina in GT4 and 5, although in GT5, this assumes those stock medium-grade radials are switched up for sport tires.


1). Corona in GT1 an understeer-lover. Other cars from later games understeer, but can also not understeer when called upon not to.

2). Wimpy power at first. Never does it become stellar by any means.

3). Like many practical vehicles, this one won't turn any heads. It's a blender-inner.

4). Poor acceleration.

5). Tallish gearing made for fuel-economy doesn't aid our situation at the tracks much.

6). Honestly, does the Corona/Carina really belong in GT? Seems like Toyota added it to the game to boost some sales perhaps. It was dropped as a model line for the new millenium for better-sellers.

7). GT5: interior view has a center mirror that is useful, but sticks almost halfway off the screen. And the driver's side mirror is barely visible; useless so far as peripheral vision goes.  

8). Flimsy suspension characteristics at first. Gotta say this though: I've driven plenty of real-life Camrys and 'entry-level' Lexuses since I work in a garage...PD certainly got the feel of this type of vehicle!
Originally Published: June 20, 2004

Re-Edited: October 6, 2007

Edited for GT5 content: some time in Spring of 2011
GT5 content # 2 edit: February 11, 2013

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