It’s everything I thought an 80's Corolla could be.
When you first see it you think it’s not too bad with its borderline handsome front end and snazzy two tone. Then you see the back...
Plus the proportions are all wrong, the wheels seem too small, the trunk too short, and the roof too tall. Like someone got a nice sedan and then squished the front and rear together to shorten it rather than actually redesign anything. And it’s one of those cars that makes you look like a meth dealer if you get one scratch or godforbid, dent it. But that’s okay because its over shadowed by something else...
It may look nice in photos but that’s it. Every plastic they used has since turned into brittle beige bits mascurading as trim. They Will break especially if they are exposed to sunlight, like say the third brake lamp. On the particular specimen I owned the plastic had gotten brittle enough to just fall off. Naturally someone fixed that with tape, which when peeled off took a layer of leather patterned plastic with it. The entire dash was a cheap looking/feeling plastic with a slightly different color than the rest of the interior with a leather effect printed on. The windshield mirror that at one point was fancy and auto dimming had since broken, which ties back to my last point that the plastics used were shit. Bit it’s not like they saved costs to make it well designed. The center console is overshadows by an 80's Toyota truck in every way. Every. Single. Button on the tape player jiggled enough to make me really question how they were all still,”attached”. Really touching anything in the interior besides the steering wheel runs you a serious risk of breaking something. The good things I can say is that there’s alot of headroom, road noise wasnt bad, and the seats weren’t particularly bad, though not particularly good. Overall the cheapest interior I’ve ever experienced.
The c230 pushed a little less than 150hp and 160ft/lbs when it was new. This was mated to an automatic of some sort, it really dosent matter how many gears it has in this car. It does transmission things and it does them alright. Side note: you can powershift and select gears but its pointless due to the shift knob being set up like a puzzle. The powertrain isn’t bad, it shifts nicely and accelerates well, better than expected even. Bit there’s not really much to say, it seems to do its job albeit with little soul but it does it. And it’s the kinda car that would let you cruise at 100 without hesitation. ‘Nuff said, when asked about the powertrain, the correct awnser is,”Yes”.
The steering communicates about as much as it has too with, some, weight to it. The car is setup softly and it does ride really smooth over all terrains. Everything about the handling is very predictable, to the point that it can be dangerous in the wrong hands. The car will never step the back out unless you REALLY try, it’s setup for some understeer but it always let’s go gradually. I was able to get oversteer maybe twice and that was after hamfistedly forcing the car into a corner and flooring it past the apex on greasy roads, the car did not enjoy any of it .This is dangerous in the wrong hands because it allows you to drive at the limit everywhere, the soft suspension absorbs all the imperfections with ease never unsettling the car. This car was remarkably fun to drive on tight rutted backroads where you could toss it from corner to corner with no repercussions, the worst I got out of it was a few 4 wheel powerslides midcorner from trailbraking into tight corners at speed, but even the powerslides felt controlled and subdued. The car always has just enough getup and go to keep the all the fun going after you’ve slowed down, which brings me onto my last point.
They grabbed very well, they inspired confidence. I don’t think I ever overheated them and I’d taken the car on a few shall we say, excessive drives through steep curvy roads along mountainsides and canyons with high speed straights into low speed curves. I can say hands down the brakes were the best part of this car, in one word, Fantastic. But like all German cars it seems, the brake dust was immense. Like you could clean the rims and they’d be dark a few days later.
The suspensions well tuned and brakes are great. The powertrain simply does its job, it’s nothing special. The exterior is up to you, I think it’s kinda doinky but to each his own. And last but definitely least the the interior design was an afterthought, with a preposterous execution(I have more to say on the interior but it would be too much). I clearly didn’t like this car much but it’s worth noting that it does eat up tons miles without hesitation.
All of this is written from memory of when I owned a black 98 c230 automatic about 9 months ago. I bought it from its second owner, it had maintenance records and wasn’t abused until I got to it. I used it to commute to college for a a little more than a month doing 120miles a day 4 days a week. I promptly sold it to my brother as soon as I could when I realized how fragile/crap the interior was. Sorry for the lack of decent pictures but when I had mine I didn’t care to take any photos of it, so I had to find random photos off the internet.