The XYR, Toyota’s light sports concept car attracted much attention when it was unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show in January 1999. Its styling was highly aggressive for Toyota. The seventh-generation Toyota Celica, based on the XYR, was released to the public in September of that year.
The XYR features a front bumper and tall, GT-like rear wing not used in other Celicas, but otherwise uses the same components as other Celicas. The eye-catching, cutting-edge styling of the XYR and the new Celicas was crafted by Toyota’s Calty design center in Southern California.
It is shorter than its predecessors, even though the wheelbase is longer. Handling is improved greatly over that of the previous Celica. The engine housed in the short, sharply angled nose is the model 2ZZ-GE, which Yamaha created by modifying its 1ZZ engine (developed for the Toyota Vista), giving it heads equipped with the VVTL-i variable valve timing and lift system.
This 1.8-liter engine delivers 180hp at 7,600 rpm, with 133 lb-ft of torque at 6,800 rpm. Yet it weighs 60 lbs less than the 1ZZ. A 6-speed manual transmission keeps the engine in its sweet spot. It has reasonable low-end and mid-range power but really screams when the cam change takes place at 6,000 rpm.
Also available is the 1.8-liter model 1ZZ-FE, which generates 140hp and 125 lb-ft of torque, combined with a 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic transmission. On all, front strut suspension is paired with double-wishbone rear suspension. The 2,500-lb weight is also a key point, and helps provide handling approaching that of the Honda Integra Type R.