Before luxury sport utility vehicles got into the scene, sports cars and convertibles were the ones taking the lead in the luxury performance segment of the auto industry. These vehicles were synonymous to great comfort, refined driving, great styling and high performance. Convertibles were particularly loved for their lively personality. They were not aggressive-looking but rather more exciting and fun to drive. They offer basic transportation functions while providing nimble handling and trendy styling, which make them a perfect choice for young drivers and sports car enthusiasts.
Among Toyota's well-known sports coupes and convertibles were the Toyota Paseo. It was launched early in 1991 as a new 1992 Toyota model replacing the former 2-door Toyota Corolla GT-S and Toyota SR5. It shared front-drive chassis and powertrain with the subcompact Toyota Tercel but its bodywork was considerably unique. It also shared with the Tercel its 4-cylinder engine however Paseo engine was upgraded with dual camshafts, resulting to higher power output. Together with the standard five-speed manual or the optional four-speed automatic transmission, taut suspension with rear stabilizer bar, 14-in tires and its favorable power-to-weight ratio, the Paseo offered more promising ride than the Tercel. It portrayed a sportier personality, which made it more fun and exciting to drive.
Much of the changes made to the Paseo through the years were on its safety features. On its second year, driver-side airbag came as standard while antilock braking was offered as an option. In the following year, passenger seatbelts gained automatic-locking retractors feature and the optional air conditioning now got a CFC-free refrigerant. The Paseo engine was changed to meet emission level requirements in some states in America. Later models were equipped with dual airbags, passenger-side airbag and 3-point seatbelts. Styling and dimensions remained almost unchanged except for the sleeker look, smoother nose and bigger windows. In 1997, a convertible Toyota Paseo got into the model line up. It was offered in three eye-catching colors: Satin Black Metallic, Super White and Super Red.
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