CC Twofer: 1993 Porsche 968 CS & 1996 Toyota Sprinter Carib (E110) S Touring – Strange Bedfellows

It’s been a while since I’ve written up a twofer, and as a result, I have a few in store. So this will be T87’s Twofer Week, live from the depths of the Japanese capital. We’ll start with this chalk and cheese duo. But which is which?

The web is not entirely clear on the gen 3 (1995-2002) Sprinter Carib, but I’m sure the CCommunity will have all the answers. It seems this was mostly a JDM model, but Toyota made a Corolla-badged version (eventually with a completely different front end) for Europe. Is one to infer that these were never sent to the US, Australia, Africa or South America?

If so, that’s a damn shame. With its tall roof, AWD drivetrain and quirky styling, the Sprinter Carib was a great little wagon. But then again, this was the mid-to-late ‘90s, when SUVs started roaming the Earth and wagons became passé – at least from a North American perspective.

And it was the last of its kind, too. Even though it sold relatively well for a niche vehicle (over 125k units in Japan – a bit less, but not dramatically so, than its predecessor), Toyota called it quits after that, 20 years after the Carib first appeared in the range.

European Caribs only came in 1.8 litre form, whereas JDM ones could also be had with a 1.6 and a FWD-only drivetrain. This broadening of the bottom of the range was not a bad notion necessarily, but it did not seem to work in the model’s favour. Our feature car is nevertheless a lower trim “S” with the 115hp 1.6 litre engine.

That 968 makes for quite a contrast with the Carib, doesn’t it? Say what you will about front-engined Porsches (I mean the non-SUV ones, of course), they certainly look the part. Especially in yellow.

This is the Club Sport version of the 968, offered from MY 1993 to the model’s end in 1995. The idea was to improve performance by removing toys, such as power windows, leather seats, driver’s airbag or the rear wiper. The rear seats were also taken out, to save even more weight.

In the end, the draconian diet improved the 968’s performance pretty noticeably, shaving off almost a full second from the 0-60 time and pushing the max speed up to 260kph, versus 250kph for standard 968s. All that oomph came from a 240hp 2990cc straight-4, which is about as huge as 4-cyl. engines ever got in postwar cars.

The price was also reduced on these by 10-15% compared to the standard coupé, but sales remained pretty slow. Only 1538 of these were made in three years – but then, this model was only marketed in Europe, Australia and Japan. Total production numbers for the 968 in general, including the convertible, were between 11,000 and 13,000, depending on the source. Whatever it actually was, Porsche lost a packet on the 968 and gave up on the platform, which had begun in 1976 with the 924.

These two may be very different, but they do have one common feature: they were the final iteration of 20-year-old concepts that had run their course. They’re not strange bedfellows. They are a pair of swansong models – and pretty neat ones at that.


Related post:

Curbside Classic: 1992-1995 Porsche 968. Phoning It In, by Don Andreina