The ultra-posh Toyota Century SUV has been unveiled for Japan

By topgear, 07 September 2023

The ultra-posh Toyota Century SUV has been unveiled for Japan

Up until its first properly luxurious car landed in 1967, Toyota says “the Japanese chauffeur car market was dominated by Western luxury brands". And though the 2018 Century is a masterpiece, Rolls-Royce now has the Cullinan, Bentley has the Bentayga and BMW has the X7.

Welcome then – somewhat inevitably – to the all-new Toyota Century SUV. Designed to be driven by chauffeurs and solely for the Japanese market, we’re told that this is the “Century for the next century". Nice. 

It’ll be sold alongside the sedan but features an all-new construction and powertrain. There's imposing bodywork featuring, in Toyota's words, ‘stately grandeur’ design language, quad set-back lights and an ‘exquisitely engraved phoenix emblem’.

Beneath that resides a 3.5-litre V6 and an electric motor at each end for a plug-in hybrid powertrain that sends 406bhp to all four wheels through an e-CVT gearbox. The all-electric range is 43 miles on a single charge. 

There’s four-wheel steering to tighten the turning circle and then stabilise things at speed, plus a ‘Rear Comfort’ drive mode that smoothes out acceleration and braking to allow those in the back a comfortable nap or non-shakey Zoom meeting. 

Inside there are only four seats and we’re told that the space was designed to be ‘human-centred’ with an “unrivalled spirit of omotenashi, or hospitality".

The rear doors open to a wide 75 degree angle to allow easy access and in the back you get two fully reclining seats that are heated and cooled, although it looks as though leather is your only trim option.

Shame, because the Century sedan's wool seats are delightful.

You do get lots of nice classic Century touches though, including reading lights, a shoehorn, retractable tables, optional seat doilies and an 11.6-inch screen mounted on the back of the front seats, which in turn is controlled by a 5.5-inch removable touch display housed in the centre console.

Behind those all-important rear seat passengers is a 340-litre boot (big enough for three golf bags, apparently) that’s separated from the cabin by a sheet of noise-reducing laminated glass to provide maximum refinement, while the onboard audio system is made up of 18 speakers and was apparently tuned by “the finely honed auditory sensibilities and exemplary techniques of a musical instrument manufacturing master".

Up front it’s all about supporting professional drivers, so there’s an array of proper buttons (surely that’s an admission that they’re just better?) plus a digital rear-view mirror and a 12.3-inch digital dial display. 

Toyota claims a hefty 2,570kg weight, and prices will start from an equally hefty 25,000,000 Japanese yen (possibly an estimated S$1m landed in Singapore).

Looks like there will be plenty of exterior colour options, and Toyota says that sales will take place through ‘Century Meisters’ – essentially specially trained salespeople and engineers who work at select Toyota dealerships and know the cars and customers inside-out.

So, fancy a new-age Century SUV over the old-school sedan? Best get in quick, Toyota only plans to sell 30 cars per month in its home market. 

STORY Greg Potts

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