What you need to know:
Although its production was discontinued in mid 2000s, the Toyota Opa is still loved by a number of drivers for, among other things, its pocket friendly fuel consumption.
I have had my Toyota Opa for three years. I had a choice of buying one that runs on a 2000cc and 1800cc engine but I chose the latter because its fuel consumption is affordable.
The Opa also comes with enough interior space, especially for the passengers and luggage.
The space between the rear seat row and the trunk door is enough to carry a few suitcases. However, because it has low ground clearance, one should avoid overloading it since this will reduce its ground clearance and compromise driving comfort. Another plus for this car is that since it is not popular on our roads, it does not attract car vandals, especially those targeting side mirrors.
However, to keep it safe, I installed an alarm system and I avoid parking in unsafe places.
Since I use it daily, I spend Shs200,000 every time I service.
I like the Toyota Opa because it has a small 2000cc engine that gives me the required power. While driving to Bushenyi District in western Uganda, I will cover approximately 15km per litre of fuel because fuel consumption significantly goes down with fast engine performance. In Kampala, the mileage per litre reduces to 10km per litre due to slow moving traffic.
Because it is a rare car, its spare parts are also rare. However, it shares most of them such as brake pads and oil filters required for minor service with most Toyota brands. A motorcyclist recently broke one of my headlights and I had to import it from Dubai.
Other parts are locally available with most dealers but you need a mechanic who not only knows where to buy the parts from but can negotiate fair deals.
Because it is a low car, you have to be careful while driving on some roads. If you are a rough driver, be ready to repair or replace the front bumper a few times because it is usually the most affected.
The Toyota Opa is one of the reliable cars I have driven; reliable in a sense that even when it develops a mechanical problem, you can still be able to drive it to the garage. This is not the case with many other cars. Recently, while driving through Mpigi District from Masaka District, it started to heat up.
Although it had enough engine oil and coolant, I could not tell what the problem was.
I drove and reached Kampala in time for my mechanic to check it. He realised that I had topped up with the wrong coolant type which had mixed up with the old one.
It could still run the cooling system but it was different from what I was used to. I had to drain the old coolant for a new type and I was able to drive without any more worries.
It is also reliable because my particular model has a 4WD system that allows me to drive through any road terrain as long as I pay attention to the car’s low ground clearance and drive carefully.
Since I do not use this car daily, I service it once every five months. Its spare parts such as the rear lights are hard to source once broken and this means I have to avoid reckless motorists and motorcyclists.
I spend Shs150,000 per garage visit but most of it is preventive maintenance such as inspecting functionality of brake pads and spark plugs before they are due for replacement.
Maximum power 125 - 152ps
Drive Type AWD/FF
Engine capacity 1,794 - 1,998cc