Love is touching the clutch and shifting so effortlessly you know that you and the car are made for each other.

Love is setting in the driver's seat for several hundred miles and wanting to remain there long after the trip is over, because the weat hugged and held you and kept you from sliding sideways in the trickiest of turns.

Love is the 1986 Toyota Celica GT-S, a marvelous little sports machine with enough room for four. And though purists may quibble with the arrangement-''true'' sports care are two-seaters-love is knowing that, in this case, it really doesn't matter.

It's no wonder some people in Detroit and West Germany, France and Italy loathe Toyota.

They're jealous.

Outstanding complaint: Love is expensive, Consumers are complaining that some dealers are charging as much as $1,500 over options, preparation fees and the manufacturer's suggested retail price in GT-S sales.

I know that business is business. But this strikes me as being above and beyond the call of booty.

Outstanding praise: There is so much here. The clutch and five-speed manual gearbox get first attention. The clutch is feather-light, touch and go. By comparison, clutches in some cars belong in exercise rooms.

The GT-S gearbox is magnficient. Shifting is like jazz-ballet.

Oh, and that wonderful driver's seat! Electronically controlled lumbar support. Can you believe it? Touch the lumbar button one way, and the seat gently nudges and massages all of the tight spots in your back. Touch the button another way, and the seat literally hugs your sides, holding you in place. Simply wonderful.

Ride, acceleration and handling: The 2-liter, twin-cam, 4-cylinder, 16-valve gasoline engine moves this car with grace and power. Toyota's engineers say the GT-S can zip from 0 to 60 in 8.2 seconds at full thrust. (Certain, usually lonely, backroads were inhospitable this trip, and I did not have the opportunity to challenge their claims.)

But the GT-S more than holds its own in legal circumstances. And that's enough for me.

Head-turning-quotient: A truly odd exterior; a sumptuous, thoughtful interior.

Sound system: More raves, with credit to Toyota and Fujitsu Ten Ltd. Press a button, and the graphic equalizer in the GT-S stereo system automatically and accurately adjusts itself to play classical music. The system serves up jazz, rock, pops and vocal music the same way -- select one and press a button.

Mileage: About 27 miles to the gallon, combined city-highway, running driver-only and with winter climate control system operating most of the time.

Price-as-tested: $15,403 with $2,705 in options, exclusing a sunroof, which would cost another $620. The tested price does not include any additional dealer markups.