This is gonna be a 3 part review of the 3 most popular models of Levin/Trueno that are for sale in New Zealand, I thought this really should be done as there isnt that much infomation about these cars, ive driven all 3 models and worked on all 3 models, I have a pretty good understanding but again im not gonna make it too complicated just so its good for everybody to read.
This first one is gonna be about the GT Apex, because there the cheapest out of the 3.
To start off with, im just gonna call them Levin's because there the more common and the better looking, the styling was the only difference between the two, and just look up AE101 Levin and then AE101 Trueno and you will agree with me, the Levin is the much nicer looking car, with the AE111 its a bit harder to tell, but im getting off track, there the same car underneth it all.
Just like the GTZ the GT-Apex ran from 1991 to 1995, before being replaced by the AE111 BZG and AE111 BZR's, the 101's generally weigh around 1150kg which is quite light and is what helps them to be so fast.
The engine in the GT-Apex is Toyota's loved 4age, a twin cam, 4 cylinder, 1600cc sports engine, this one though has the silver top version, it is quite special because its a 5 valve motor (3 on the intake, 2 on exhaust) allowing it to put out some massive rev's (redline starts at 7800) and allowing a high compression ratio.
I will do a review of the 4age engine's themselves but this was more about the car, the silvertop 4age is a very strong motor and very well designed having 4 individual throttle bodies, it puts out 160hp at 7400 rpm and really does show what a 1.6L can do, while still being very reliable and useable for everyday driving.
You could get this motor with a manual 5 speed or an automatic 4 speed, but most examples you will come across are manual in New Zealand because most people buy these cars as a cheap reliable sports car.
The exterior of the GT-apex is good, its a decent looking car, its got quite a 'smooth' look to it and generally they dont get alot of attention, expecially in stock form, which is good for those looking for a sleeper that can get up and go.
The interior is well, typical japanese, with lots of plastic and all the usual stuff, nothing special in here, the rear seat comfort isnt very good but it never is with coupe's and still the absolute worst are the ST185 Celica GT4's, its just horrible.
The handling and brakes are pretty good in stock form, I think its most likely due to the cars light weight, it feels quite comfortable to drive and goes around corners pretty good, I like the brakes too, there nothing fantastic but they do a good job of slowing the car down and you cant complain about them at all.
How it is to drive:
I got in with quite high hopes, I really liked it to drive around town, although the lack of torque was a bit of a downer, I just wished it had a little bit more, but thats most likely because of the small size (1600cc) so I cant really say I was too suprised.
The handling and ride comfort was pretty good and I liked being inside of it, for a coupe it actually did feel quite roomy and was a nice nippy car to drive around, but I really just didnt like the engine that much, and didnt like the lack of torque and power, I just couldnt get used to it, I know alot of people that own these and love them, so its really up to you and what you like, but I couldnt enjoy the car much because of the engine, I didnt like the powerband and it always seemed like you had to change gears alot, something I still had to do in the blacktop but I loved the powerband in that, just a little thing I dont like and dont let it put you off a great car, everybodys tastes are different.
How it is to do up:
As far as the engine goes, not much can be done, the best upgrades to do is getting the cat removed in the exhaust and replaced with a straight pipe and fitting the blacktop 4age headers, as they allow more flow and more power.
Suspension wise, ive already said that camber and lowersprings will do alot, but if you can afford it, aftermarket coilovers and an aftermarket sway bar is the way to go, brakes are easy, you can either just upgrade the standard pads to aftermarket racing ones or if you wanna go all out, then upgrade to GTZ twin pot calipers and larger rotors that will bolt straight up.
I think 185's or 195's are the standard tyre size, so this really needs to be upgraded with 17 inch rims and nice 205 or 215 size tyres, this will greatly improve the handle also.
I really hope you like this review, I will be doing two more on two other popular Levin's, so follow me if you want to be updated on when they come out!