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Oct 16

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Factory Manual R154 Toyota Soarer 1JZ GTE Review

After almost 2 years of ownership and just under 10,000 miles I think I’m an ideal candidate to review this car. So this is for you if you’re thinking of buying one. This review is based on the 1JZGTE, R154 manual version, so the sportiest of the bunch, but most of the stuff carries as the cars are largely the same apart from engines.

The other types out there include a 3.0L 2JZ-GE non turbo model and 2 variations of the V8 1UZ-FE version (correct me if I’m wrong!) the V8’s are the range toppers, with one of the models having 4 wheel steering and self-leveling suspension. The 4 wheel steer and self-leveling suspension is probably the next sought after model after the 1JZ versions. That’s due to them being a very limited run car.

Toyota Soarer Country Road Blast

Mine isn’t the purest of the breed as it’s had a few light modifications, but if anything, these are complimentary to the car rather than detract from it.

First off, we’ll start with the design and ergonomics of the car, this is a beautifully designed car that is very heavily over engineered. It oozes quality and it shows. Park it next to a modern day Toyota, Especially something like a Prius and you can see it’s a better built car immediately as you walk towards it and compare the panel gaps and materials used.

I’ve never been in such a solid, substantial feeling car as this. It seems to be better put together than its Toyota Chaser counterparts in my opinion too. Everything is big, heavy and well thought out.

Toyota Soarer side view

When you sit in it, the interior kind of wraps around you. You feel really safe and secure. That said, it is a very small interior when taking into account the size of the car! They’ve also managed to hide screw heads and other parts that would hold an interior together so it’s just as seamless and flowing as the outside of the car on the in.

There is no squeaks or rattles to talk of, even after 20+ years and a good 200,000 KMs on the clock. There’s plenty of leather everywhere and even the plastic parts are a soft textured leather like material, so again, are very nice to touch and adds to that feeling of quality. They also look luxurious too.

Everything is electric in the car too, from wing mirrors to seats and everything in between.. all these years on it all works as faultlessly as it did when it left the factory in ’95! The digital dash is a really cool feature and even stacks up and looks pretty when comparing it to today’s digital dashes. This was always the big thing that struck people when they first got in it. It reminds them of “space invaders” is the most common comment!

Toyota Soarer Leather Interior

MX5 momo Wheels

It also has an electric sun roof even though it has air conditioning.. Yes this is important to point out as it seems to be a dyeing feature in modern day cars! There’s nothing better than having the windows and sun roof open in the middle of summer on a beautiful country road with the turbo’s fluttering and the 1JZ singing to you. It’s a really awesome “summer car” or GT cruiser. The driver’s seat has an electric lumbar support that you can adjust accordingly, this really helps with the longer journeys.

Talking of Journeys and driving, let’s get to the engine! The main motive behind me buying it if I’m honest! The 1JZ is as good as internet folklore would have you suggest! I’ve also been out in quite a few now, so knew what to expect! Where the internet messes up though is power figures.

1JZ GTE Twin Turbo

You DON’T need a 500BHP+ JZ engine to enjoy it (I’ve been in a couple!) It’s excellent as is in its standard form and provides more than enough power and torque to really enjoy it day to day or at weekends. It’s a silky smooth, quiet and refined engine that delivers great, reliable power. It feels as over engineered as the rest of the car. It can also be as loud and lairy as those 500bhp cars if you get a decent exhaust on it! A Stock JZ with some breathing mods, doesn’t really sound that dissimilar to a heavily tuned one unless the tuned one is cammed up etc.

There’s 2 types of 1JZ, the early non-VVTI Twin Turbo that I had in the Soarer, and the Newer VVTI single turbo that you can get in later models of the Soarer/Chaser’s etc.

Power wise, they are very close. I drag raced against my friends Chaser and the Soarer twin turbo would pull ahead and loose power up top, this is where the single turbo VVTI would then clinch it, next gear, rinse and repeat.
The Twin Turbo’s aren’t sequential, they are 2 same size Turbo’s. So they deliver a lot of power at once, low down around 2.5k then tail off after about 5k, the engine redlines at around 6.8 or 7.2k I think. So you get a lump of torque and boost in the mid range.. which was actually preferable to me. This was great on motorways when you sit in 5th gear, you don’t need to shift down as the power is right there for overtaking.

toyota chaser drift

While the VVTI is a technological wonder producing similar torque in that mid range, it’s definitely not the same experience. It’s feels much more like a linear N/A engine with all the power at the top.

Either engine is excellent though, but I feel the Twin Turbo is more necessary with the lowdown torque in a heavy GT car. The boost of the twins is quite aggressive too as they spool faster, so you get a bit of lag and then a noticeable surge forwards as they peak! Never got bored of the way it carries itself on the turbo’s. They are also like old log burners too. Strong, dependable and reliable as long as they’ve been looked after relatively well, due to this strength they can take a few bad owners too. That said the most common failing point is the twins, but they are quite cheap to replace if you shop around, or this is the point that people change to a big single.

They can take so much abuse in general, so I’d never really be worried about buying one as long as things like the cam belts are done and oil changes are kept on top of. They are generally owned by enthusiasts in Japan and here in the UK too, so a lot of this is taken care of on most cars.

Factory Manual Soarer 1jzgte

The final point to discuss really is handling, they are no MX-5, but with a decent set of coilovers and good spring rates they do handle very well. The Tien Drift Coilovers and springs I had were a good combination. They were stiff but damped well, and the springs and Cusco Strut brace stopped it rolling too much. Ultimately you can never really get away from the weight and mass of the car as these are very heavy, but you can definitely make them more compliant and responsive.

The Suspension components are basically all Mk4 Supra on the Soarers, so a lot of parts are interchangeable between the two. This also means they have really good, stable high speed cornering characteristics. Fast winding country roads are a joy in this. Technical, twisty ones, not so much. That said it could do it quite well still, and it never gets old powering out of a tight corner in second gear with the 2 way diff locking hard and launching you towards the horizon!

Toyota Soarer !jz Twin Turbo

It does have power steering, but it weights up nicely and gives you really good feedback from the road surface through the wheel. That said, it is a little dead in the middle, but this seems to be characteristic of 90’s cars and could probably be addressed with new bushes or a tighter steering rack if you were so inclined.

It also has excellent return to center when you want the back end to step out and control a nice slide. If anything it could do with a bit more steering lock, but once you get used to it, you can transition quite happily for days if drifting is your thing!

Factory Manual Soarer

All in, an excellent car, I was sorry to see it go, and I feel privileged to of owned one. I dare say I might end up in one again, It really is a perfect and very capable all-rounder, even by today’s standards. I think this is truly a testament to how far ahead of their time they were.

However, the sale of this allowed me to get my dream car! More on that soon :)

  1. The Quest to get my First Japanese Turbo Charged Car..
  2. Why Import a Toyota Soarer from Japan Over Buying Domestically
  3. The Importation Process of my 1JZ Toyota Soarer
  4. My Factory Manual Toyota Soarer 1JZ GTE finally arriving in the UK!
  5. Registering My Soarer and Getting The Cars Registration With The DVLA in the UK
  6. Toyota Soarer 1JZGTE Review
  7. Toyota Soarer 1JZ GTE R154 Gallery

Permanent link to this article: http://carsandcoolstuff.com/2017/10/factory-manual-r154-toyota-soarer-1jz-gte-review/

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