If this model looks familiar, it’s because it was sold in the US as the Toyota Echo. It was about the most basic car you could purchase while it was here, and probably the cheapest as well. At first (and let’s be honest, second of third) glance, it would seem that there’s nothing interesting about these cars. Had I not owned one, I would probably agree. My 2002 Echo was my first new car and I drove the piss out of mine, autocrossed it, ass dragged it (e-brake sliding in a fwd car), and generally loved it until I sold it once I replaced it with an 83 RX7 as my daily.
While the 1.5L 1nz-fe doesn’t inspire much in the heart of the enthusiast, in the 2000lb Echo, its 108 HP gave the car a power to weight ratio really similar to the CRX Si. I owned this in the midst of the post-Fast and Furious ricer craze, and I used my ugly little car to embarrass more than a couple “modded” Hondas.
From his blog, this already light platform is still shedding weight with the entire HVAC system recently being removed. The interior was previously gutted with the stock seats being replaced with Brides. The stock engine breathes a little easier with a Blitz open filter, 5Zigen header which feeds a catless straight pipe going to a JIC muffler. Handling is improved with a set of RSR coilovers.
All these mods are sure to make this a much more fun car when it sees track duty at Ebisu.