Toyota Century is Japan-only luxo-SUV rival to Rolls-Royce
For decades, the great and the good in Japan have ensconced themselves in the limousine luxury of the Toyota Century saloon.
Now, the Century has been transformed into an opulent SUV rival to the Bentley Bentayga, Range Rover, and even the Rolls-Royce Cullinan with a price tag of £135,000 in its homeland. It goes in a completely different direction to the new retro-styled Land Cruiser, which is aimed at those who want a serious off-roader.
The Century has been designed from the start as a car to be driven by a chauffeur. The rear doors open especially wide to make it easy for its gilded owners to get in and out, and there’s a power folding sidestep to help here too.
Once you’re sat in leather-clad comfort, Toyota has thought about every detail, so the floor is completely flat to offer as much leg room as possible. Unlike in most SUVs, the passenger cabin is also insulated from the boot by a glass partition, so no drafty chills when the chauffeur is fetching an umbrella to keep the rain off its occupants as they leave the rear seats.
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Toyota calls this human-centred approach to design omotenashi, which translates as “hospitality”. And the Century certainly does look after those lucky enough to sit in the back. The seats can fully recline while giving you a massage and cooling or heating to your preferred temperature. There are also screens to watch your favourite movies and a chilled cabinet for your tipple of choice between the two airline-style seats.
A separate hi-fi system lets the two rear passengers choose their music, which Toyota says gives the experience of being at a live concert. This is much like you’ll find in the latest BMW 7 Series, though Toyota has not said if it will offer an armoured version of the Century as BMW has done with its i7 Protection model.
Toyota hasn’t forgotten about the driver and says it has designed the front of the cabin for those owners who might want to drive their Century themselves at the weekend. So, you’ll find a digital dash display, large central infotainment touchscreen, and sumptuous seats.
Whoever is driving, the Century delivers strong performance thanks to its plug-in hybrid power. A 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine is combined with an electric motor at the rear to give the Century all-wheel drive and the potential for near-silent electric-only driving, though Toyota has yet to confirm performance figures.
What we can tell you is the 2.5-tonne Century comes with Michelin tyres that have been developed to work with the Toyota’s four-wheel-steering system. It makes the car more agile in corners and easier to pilot through tight city streets, while the Rear Comfort mode makes the Century smoother as it comes to a halt.
By now, you’re probably wondering when you can get your hands on Toyota’s Century and relax in its luxurious embrace. The only thing is, Toyota is keeping the Century for Japanese customers only. Like the brilliant Nissan Skyline Nismo saloon, the Century is another Japan-only model that customers around the world will clamour for but won’t be able to buy officially.
This leaves the door open to buyers who want to import a Toyota Century themselves. We reckon it’s a missed opportunity, so should Toyota bring the Century to the UK? Would you like to live in the lap of its luxury, particularly when it costs half as much as a Rolls-Royce Cullinan? Bet you would.
Hero image credit: Toyota