Toyota Sprinter Review and Specs

Toyota Sprinter Review


  • Reliable build and quality
  • Offers a pokey, fun ride
  • Ample interior space


  • Only manufactured and sold in Japan
  • All cars available here will be grey market imports
  • Stripped-down kit
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Overview, Look, and Feel of the Toyota Sprinter

The Toyota Sprinter was first launched in the year 1968. Manufactured as a variant to the popular Toyota Corolla, and only ever sold on the Japanese domestic market, the Sprinter proved a viable alternative to Toyota’s main offering for over 30 years. Made to be sportier than its Corolla sibling, the Sprinter offered a sport-tuned suspension and a slightly different exterior profile. From 1968 onwards, each generation of the Toyota Corolla was launched alongside a Sprinter sibling, that is, until the year 2000, when the Sprinter was phased out of production with the launch of the Corolla E140. All in all, this means that the Sprinter went through a full eight generations during its production run.

Interestingly, the Sprinter was never actually offered as a new car on the market here. However, many Sprinters can be found on the pre-owned market today. This is due to the Sprinter’s popularity as a grey market import, meaning that many of the vehicles were imported from Japan via unofficial channels. The Sprinter was actually used as the inspiration for the Holden Nova, made by the United Australian Automobile Industries from the years 1989 to 1996. Today, most Sprinters on the market are from the 1980s and 1990s, the heyday of these particular vehicles, although older models and versions can be found.

Offered in a wide variety of body variations, including a two-door coupe, three-door hatch, four-door sedan, and five-door hatch, among others, the model lines were often split into front-wheel drive and rear-wheel drive options. This wide range of alternatives means that there is a Sprinter out there for nearly every driver. In fact, rear-wheel drive Sprinters are popular on the market today as drift cars. Due to their sporty nature, many Sprinters have also been used as rally cars in the past. Because of this, it’s important to check into the background of the car before purchase. During its run, the Sprinter was also offered as the Sprinter Carib, a five-door wagon offered with four-wheel drive and a significantly different exterior than that of the Toyota Corolla.

Drivers praise the Sprinter’s considerable poke and impressive handling. In addition, the Japanese manufacturing on the car is typically superior, making the Sprinters utterly reliable and secure. Ample body configurations and features mean plenty of options for potential buyers. The Sprinter is perfect for those looking for all of the dependability and quality found in a Corolla, wrapped up in a sportier package.

Toyota Sprinter Engine Specs and Performance

Over 32 years and eight generations, the Toyota Sprinter has come equipped with a wide variety of engines and power trains. The first version of the Sprinter (E10 Series) was introduced as a fastback alternative to the original Toyota Corolla. That car featured a 1.1L K pushrod engine. Subsequent generations received larger engines. Among the most popular imports include the Sprinter AE86, manufactured starting in 1983 and based off the fifth generation from the Corolla range. These vehicles feature a 1.6L V4 engine with an output of 96kW of power and 150Nm of torque, which was later rated down to 88kW and 142Nm. However, many Sprinters on the market today have been retrofitted for enhanced power, so actual outputs may vary on the used car market.

Standard Equipment and Options for the Toyota Sprinter

The Sprinter was always geared more towards performance than luxury. However, this doesn’t mean that the car came without good features. Originally, the Sprinters main differences from Corollas were cosmetic. For instance, early generations of Sprinters featured a formal upright grill, a sleeker, more aerodynamic body design, pop-up headlamps, and a more sculptured look. One interesting trim of the Sprinter is the Carib. This five-door wagon came standard with dual airbags, automatic transmission, electric windows, a spoiler, roof rails, and a Carib decal. Some versions of this model were in fact four-wheel drive, making the Carib a sporty, off-road-capable vehicle. The Carib also featured a larger, more comfortable cabin.

Toyota Sprinter's Competition

As a sporty compact vehicle, the Sprinter faced a wide array of competition from across the market. One source of competition actually came from the Holden Nova, a car based off the platform of the Toyota Sprinter. During its production run, the Nova went through two generations. Originally offered with a 1.4L 60kW engine in 1989, the Nova eventually came equipped with a 1.8L 85kW engine in 1992. The Holden Nova was phased out of production in 1996.

Another rival for the Sprinter was the Corolla itself. Throughout, the Corolla generally offered similar engine options as the Sprinter, with the main differences being cosmetic in nature. During the 1980s, a comparable vehicle to the Sprinter was the Mitsubishi Cordia. The Cordia was offered in a 1.6L turbocharged version with 84kW until 1985, when the cars underwent an overhaul. Newer versions were available with a 1.8L V4 with 110kW of power.

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