Rearview Revisited: 1987 Toyota Corolla Liftback

Arguably the Hyundai i30 Fastback’s spiritual ancestor, the 1987 Toyota Corolla Liftback is 30 years old this year.

First published by Eóin Doyle in July 2015.

1987 Toyota Corolla Liftback GLi - image via toyotaoldies.de
Is a posh Corolla an oxymoron? Not in Ireland during the 1980’s. 1987 Toyota Corolla Liftback GLi – image: toyotaoldies.de

It might surprise you, but the (AE92-series for Toyota geeks) Corolla, in 1.6 GLi Liftback guise at least, was considered an upmarket car in Ireland during the latter part of the 1980’s, before we became brand snobs like everyone else. This era also coincided with two other quite appealing, slightly upmarket Japanese hatchbacks – Mazda’s 323F and Honda’s 5-door Integra.

The Japanese car giant had fully embraced the art of chassis engineering by this point, so apart from being visually pleasing the Corolla was also quite pleasant to drive, with sharp handling, a decent ride and a well finished, well appointed interior. Add to this the likelihood of it being pretty much mechanically bulletproof and one has to wonder why Toyota didn’t see fit to continue this theme, replacing it instead with its more habitual dishwater.

Perhaps it was this lack of consistency that prevented Japanese marques from gaining an emotional foothold with motorists. But a lot of people don’t buy on emotion, and given that Toyota hasn’t exactly struggled in the Irish market, what do I know?

4 thoughts on “Rearview Revisited: 1987 Toyota Corolla Liftback”

  1. There were two, back to back iterations of 323F that were rather nice. The latter, without the pop up lamps, even came with a small V6 and should have done better sales wise to my mind. I had an Integra of that era, with a CRX, twin cam 1.6l, 16v, that was terrific, but had a lousy chassis – the worst on a car I have owned. Overall, though, I like this breed.

    1. The first 323F had a terrific looking exterior. I remember them as quite popular cars in Ireland. Is it me or did it have a Citroen-esque appearance? The other 323s lacked much appeal – the 3 door had to be the runt of the litter.

    2. The 323F was very popular with younger people, I had several friends who had one. And it was seen as a credible alternativ to boring econoboxes like the Astra or Escort. It was a hot hatch for people who wanted something sporty but not necessarily small and cramped. The second generation may have been better, but it was priced stratospherically in Sweden due to the bad exchange rate with the yen. Hot hatch alternative yes, but not for BMW money.

    3. There was definitely a touch of Citroen about that car. I feel that if Audi had produced it, more people would have wildly praised it’s elegant yet dynamic design. As it was, Mazda was (is?) just a bit odd-ball and, as you point out with the three door, inconsistent to be noticed properly.

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