Toyota has just introduced a new Century, the most exclusive car in Japan.
Introduced in 1967 and named for the 100th birthday of company founder Sakichi Toyoda, the Century defines top-tier Japanese luxury, the kind reserved for heads of state, chief executive officers, and Yakuza bosses.
It is so iconic as a status symbol that it is exempt from stringent national restrictions on vehicle and engine size. It cannot even be purchased in a typical dealership, but only at specialized stores, and only by invitation. The emperor of Japan is chauffeured around in a modified Century.
The Toyota Century has gone through only two generations in the 50 years since its inception. And this update is the first since 20 years. This is an eon in the automotive world, where a standard car generally lasts just six or seven years. Even the Rolls-Royce Phantom, which evolves at a glacial pace, recently saw generational change after a dozen model years.
The third-generation Century actually features all-new bodywork. It is slightly more formal in the angle of its front end, slightly more recumbent in the tilt of its windshield, and slightly thicker in its rear pillar, the better to protect the identities of its back-seat occupants as Centuries are most often chauffeured. It is also a smidge longer, wider, and lower, for ease of graceful entry and exit.
The interior is where the new Century is really interesting. It comfortably seats four, and thanks to its larger proportions it has more room on the inside. The car is longer, has a larger wheelbase and raised ceiling to have more room in the cabin. Intriguingly, Toyota has opted to finish the seats in wool and not leather which is more typical (although leather seats can still be specced).
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Rear passengers also have access to a footrest and a writing table as well as personal air conditioning. All of these features can be enjoyed while you’re getting a personal massage from your wool covered seay, a feature on all seat in the vehicle. The noise and vibration side the cabin is also said to have been worked on to make sure to maintain a peaceful ambience while inside the car.
Powering the luxury motor is a 5.0-litre V8 hybrid system which Toyota says promises ‘outstanding’ fuel economy. Toyota has also included a number of driver assistance systems including Safety Sense P collision avoidance support, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross traffic alert are adopted.
As is appropriate for something wearing an epochal name and conservative styling, the new Century is likely to be a very long-lived model.