Remembering the Toyota Verossa

Ask any sick person who has been observing the diet prescribed by his doctor, the joy once he is recovered and is able to eat all that he wants. That joy is nothing different than what was experienced by auto consumers of Pakistan when used-car imports were allowed during the Pervaiz Musharraf era.

Those used cars from the Japanese Domestic Market (JDM) not only generated a much-needed variety in the rather black & white market offerings available to us back in those days, but they also rendered a stark difference between what was offered in the rest of the world and what was being sold in Pakistan– in terms of quality, safety, equipment & features on offer. Among the many cars that graced our roads in the decade of 2000s was the Toyota Verossa mid-sized saloon.

Toyota Verossa

Launched in 2001, it was produced by Toyota primarily for the Japanese Domestic Market where it offered buyers a sedan that continued to offer a rear-wheel-drive platform, opposite the Camry (XV30) with very similar dimensions and a front-wheel-drive platform. The advantage the Verossa offered over the Camry was the ability to offer 4-wheel drive, which the Camry couldn’t do.

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The “Verossa” name is coined from the Italian words “vero”, meaning “truth” and “rosso”, meaning “red”. It acted as a replacement for the aging Mark II stablemates, the Chaser, and Cresta which ended production together in 2000 with the Verossa, combining the sporting aspects of the Chaser with the luxury characteristics of the Cresta, in a vehicle smaller than the Crown. In terms of dimensions, the Verossa measured 4,705 mm in length, 1,760 mm in width, and 1,450 mm in height with a 2,780 mm wheelbase.

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Verossa was marginally shorter than the XV30 Camry (4,805mm/ 1,795mm/ 1,490mm) but offered a wheelbase that was 60mm more than that of the Camry (2,720mm) resulting in a relatively better cabin space for the occupants.

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verossa bossIn terms of styling, the Verossa was a lot different than any Toyota sedan of its era. But it was the design that received a lot of criticism as well. The Verossa was penned by 25-year-old mountain bike racer and Toyota designer Takayuki Watanabe. According to Hideichi Misono, Toyota’s design center senior general manager, the inspiration had come from a crouching cat that’s ready to pounce. Misono said:

“We felt as though we lacked emotion. We didn’t have an emotional car in this segment and wanted one. The Verossa is the emotion we wanted.”

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It was a rather unusual mix of luxury & sporty aesthetics. Up front, there were rather roundish sweptback headlamps having a small but chunky mesh grille on the bonnet swooped down from the middle, below which there were horizontal slats that looked like nostrils. The side profile had creases on the front & rear fender whereas the back received a similar treatment to that of the front with sweptback-styled lights.

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Depending on the trim, the Verossa offered interior in multiple color combinations. The dashboard featured a multimedia screen (new for that era), four oval-shaped air vents, and a busy central tunnel.

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In terms of safety features, the Verossa was well-equipped with progressive power steering, anti-lock brakes with electronic force distribution and brake assist, Toyota’s GOA high integrity body, dual airbags with side curtain airbags, and amenities including automatic airconditioning & power everything (windows, mirrors, seat, and so on).

Related: The Unheralded 8th Gen Toyota Corolla

And for avoiding daily traffic jams, buyers have access to an optional DVD, voice-activated, GPS navigation system. The system featured a shift function that recognizes an upcoming corner via the GPS and automatically changes gears from fifth down to fourth, or third, depending on the sharpness of the corner.

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The Verossa was sold in 6 trim levels featuring three six-cylinder engines (2.0L 1G-FE, 2.0L 1JZ-FSE, and 2.5L 1JZ-GTE-T) and transmission types including 5-speed manual, 4-speed automatic and electronically-controlled 5-speed automatic transmission with Tiptronic-like sports-shift. Verossa also had a specially tuned, double wishbone suspension setup.

Related: The Rise & Fall of Toyota Corona

In terms of sales, however, the Verossa in its home market, as well as export destinations, was considered a flop– primarily due to its unusual styling. The Verossa also exceeded Japanese government regulations concerning external dimensions and engine displacement. Toyota sold 26,054 units of Verossan between June 2001 and April 2004 after which the production came to an end. It was succeeded by the Toyota Mark X which was another popular option among used JDM imports in our market back in those days.

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Although limited in numbers, one can still come across a Verossa on our roads and there are plenty on sale in the used car market as well. Do you have an ownership experience of the Toyota Verossa, share it with us using the comment section below.

Various images of Toyota Verossa in Pakistan

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