The all-new Toyota Century is the most exclusive Japanese car you can’t buy

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Considering the popularity of its cars, it is still a bit surprising that Toyota keeps its most luxurious model mainly in Japan. And this model also happens to be one of the brand’s oldest nameplates, although few people outside of Japan have seen it.

That model, of course, is the Toyota Century, and it’s been redesigned for the current model year for the first time since 1997. Yes, things are moving slowly when it comes to personal luxury and state sedans. Japan, and we’re sure many Century owners would have preferred Toyota not updating the 1997 Century at all.

What does the interior of this sedan with driver offer? Lots and lots of velor, which has long been the favorite padding of luxury cars and state limousines in Asia, not just Japan. The rest of the interior decor is just as conservative – it would be easy to mistake this interior for something from the 1960s. The seating design remained very minimalist and Toyota even refrained from placing flat screens in the headrests. front for the benefit of rear passengers. Instead, there’s a large screen incorporated into the center armrest that also houses several sliding drawers and air vents.

The Century was redesigned for the first time in years, but it’s still visually conservative as ever.

Toyota

The minimalist theme continues up front, with a very understated dashboard design featuring plenty of buttons that ring the in-dash infotainment screen. Gray velor, with which most of them will be offered as an option, covers a large part of the door cards with very little surface detail. Perhaps our favorite elements are the contrasting wood inserts in the dashboard, with lighter wood running from one side of the dashboard to the other. It’s a unique look for sure, emphasizing the traditional interiors of Japanese cars over the kind of tech in the latest Lexus LS sedan that Toyota could easily fit into it.

One thing we haven’t mentioned so far is the powertrain, and like the vast majority of Centurys will be driver-driven, the performance issue takes a lot of the back burner. But under the hood of the redesigned Century is a 5.0-liter hybrid V8 producing 375 horsepower and 376 lb-ft of torque. An electric motor that draws the juice of a nickel-metal-hydride battery produces 221 additional horsepower and 221 lb-ft of torque. Perhaps the most impressive aspect of this powertrain isn’t that it’s more powerful than the 5.0-liter V12 it replaces – the V12 produced a total of 276 hp – but that Toyota l ‘purchased from the previous generation Lexus LS 600h. . This choice, once again, shows restraint and a certain quiet confidence; Toyota could have gotten away with a much smaller, more efficient engine, as few centuries will reach highway speeds or clash from the lights. And a few of us would have loved to see the old V12 stick around with modest updates.

The Century was redesigned for the first time in years, but it's still visually conservative as ever.
The Century was redesigned for the first time in years, but it’s still visually conservative as ever.

Toyota

The price of Toyota’s vision of a traditional luxury car?

19,600,000 yen, which equates to approximately $ 178,700. That’s not a lot these days for a handmade luxury sedan – there are plenty of equally expensive sedans we can think of that will easily land north of that number even without looking in the options book – but the Century is much more exclusive than its price tag suggests. On the one hand, you need a personal driver since he is unusual drive one of these vehicles yourself if you own them. For something else you must to be someone first in the Japanese corporate world or in the underworld. Rich gaijin may have the money to buy one and hire a driver, but the effect is kind of lost if you’re a video game developer in your twenties who got rich early on, and you’re pushed to play laser tag with your friends in Akihabara district.

If $ 178,700 is too much for a new one, there are a surprising number of old Century’s that can be imported into the United States under the 25-year rule for private imports, and many of them feature mileage very modest. The price of admission for one of them is only around $ 12,000.

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