First Drive: Toyota Mark II Grande iR-V


Welcome back to First Drive where we take out a car and tell ya all about it. For today’s read, we bring you one of the coolest Toyota Mk IIs to ever grace the streets of Vancouver. The Toyota Mark II is already a legendary name plate amongst JDM enthusiasts who love VIP sedans and drifting. With a rowdy custom black and gold paint job, turbo drivetrain, various aftermarket gauges and some unique wheels our test car was a real blast.

Designed originally to be a practical daily driver the MK II has beaten some long odds to become a fan favorite amongst enthusiasts getting into Bippu VIP stance builds or the drift life thanks to the large sedan chassis and its well distributed, rear wheel drive layout. This particular model is loaded with power group options like windows, locks, seats and the optional navigation unit in dash. With 4 doors and 5 extremely comfortable seats it's pretty obvious why this car is so popular with enthusiasts.

Powered by the lesser known 1JZ VVTI, straight 6, 2.5L engine, this particular motor uses variable valve timing and variable lift as well as a single twin scroll turbo. Previous models would have used the 1JZ-GTE with twin parallel turbos. If you got the NA instead it would have either a 2.0 1GFE or the 1JZ-GE/FSE depending on year. The VVTI twin scroll engine in our opinion does have a bigger lag to it than the 1JZ-GTE with the twins. That being said though because of the VVTI and twin scroll system working together when the boost hits, it hits hard. For someone who is new to having a boosted car, there is not many things that compare to that feeling.

The exterior of the car is quite a unique talking point. The custom gold paint with a rear end and roof in black with a funky angle and stripe can be polarizing, you either love it or hate it. This look definitely gives a stand out appearance when you consider the fairly bland design of the 2001 body originally. Add the custom air intake vents and the large intercooler and you start getting the idea that this big body sedan came to party.

She's big, she's gold, she's boosty. Considering it was designed as a practical sedan for daily driving this car is a bit on the larger side but if you like interior space and a nice engine then go visit our friends at Vancouver Velocity Cars and take a look for yourself. Lots of trunk space for your groceries and easily fitting a baby seat in the back for young ones if you have any. It's the perfect vehicle to be a parent and still be kinda cool. It even has an automatic transmission so you can take it easy in rush hour traffic.

So where does this leave us? A tiny bit conflicted. As is often the case with Jack of all trades, master of none type cars.  This MKII shows us that it is possible for a build to be multidimensional and cater to the needs and wants of many, but in the end reminds us that compromise can sometimes be a by-word for sacrifice. So where does that leave you? Generalist or specialist?

Featured Specs:

Year: 2001

Engine: 1JZ-GTE, 2.5L Straight-6, DOHC w. VVT-i

Transmission: A343E 4-speed Automatic, optional R154 5-speed manual

Drivetrain: front engine, rear wheel drive

Boost type: Single twin-scroll turbocharger, air to air intercooler

Fuel consumption: 14L/100km city, 8L/100km highway, 12L/100km combined

Seating capacity: 4 door, 5 passengers

Practicality: The Mark II has plenty of room for 5 adults being a mid-size sedan and an impressively sized trunk for hauling anything from luggage to school supplies or even a set of tires for a drift day.

Ride quality/handling: Handling is reasonable, it still happens to feel like a 3400lb sedan and understeers if pushed hard enough. It is not particularly easy to promote into overseer due to the lack of a limited slip differential. Ride quality is soft and easy-going almost as if it were meant to transport the elderly at points.

Competition: Nissan Skyline Sedan, Nissan Laurel, Nissan Cefiro, Mercedes E-Class, BMW 5 Series











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