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Published on July 17th, 2010 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez


Toyota Sera used 1992 review

In 1987 Toyotaexhibited the concept car AXV-II at the Tokyo Motor Show. Pressure from the press and public convinced Toyota to put the car into production. Two years later, a production ready version of the AXV-II was shown, called the Sera, and production cars were released on the 8th March 1990. Demand took Toyota by surprise, after two weeks 3600 cars were sold, and 9000 cars were sold in the first 12 months. The Sera shares many components with other Toyotas in its generation, the suspension is mainly from the 1987 Starlet, the floor pan is from the Corolla and the engine is a unit derived from the Starlet Turbo & Paseo. All the mechanicals are tried and tested parts from the Toyota motor bin and are proven to be reliable.

The large glass area provides excellent visibility, and the tinting and air conditioning provides limited sanctuary from the heat of the midday sun. It can however get very hot in the interior if the car is parked for a length of time under the searing hot Malaysian sun.

All in all, 15,941 Seras were built between 1990 and 1995. The car sold very well initially, but production declined, and later cars became quite rare. Th last batch of 8 units of the Sera were sold as late as 1996. The car was never sold officially out of Japan simply because they did notpass the EC roll-over standard, and it was judged too expensive to re-tool the car to comply.

These cars apparently were crushed. Many were instead exported out to Asia and Europeas reconditioned secondhand units or as personal imports. Gullwing doors inspired touch and not merely a novelty item, they actually work very well. Getting in and out requires a certain amount of learning, but once mastered is easier than normal car doors, especially in confined spaces. Substantial gas strut raises door, and clever oil filled shock absorber helps close the door although balance between the two could be tricky to maintain.

The rear hatch is entirely made from glass, with a built in radio antenna that is supported on two smaller gas struts. Boot space is hidden under a separate cover, this being quite deep and roomy, although the high loading sill can be awkward.

Rear seats fold to increase headroom and a removable plastic bulkhead insulates the boot area, but is easily removed for extra space. Interior design is more conventional, but above average with good quality plastics and materials. Detailing of switches and air vents are excellent. With only 1500cc and 110bhp when all other class leading sports coupes have 2 litres and a minimum of 150bhp,the Seras performance may seem a little disappointing. However when compared to other fashionable entry-level sports coupes, such as Toyota’s fast looking but lethargic 89bhp Paseo or the 1.6 litre Mazda MX3 (105bhp) it acquits itself well, but is certainly no GTi as the styling or the polished twin exhaust pipes suggest.

The Sera will cover the 0-62mph benchmark in about 9.5 seconds, and if permitted, would reach about 120mph. The brakes are good with disc brakes all round. The small engine size gives average performance for a sports coupe, although a bit of a sheep in wolfs clothing. Makes up for the lack of performance with good fuel economy. Back in 1990 there were not many cars like the Sera. The alternatives came in from the Mazdas MX-5 and Toyota MR2. Finding a used one is not easy and they sell fast however prices are still reasonable starting from RM25,000 for an immaculate 1991 model right thru to RM35,000 for a 1994 which is the best to buy.

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