It seems that in Toyota’s world, a Century comes every quarter of an actual century, and so 21 years after the last one rolled about, there’s a brand new third-generation model. Codenamed G60, it has been completely redesigned inside and out, but retains the dignified, regal look that has set the nameplate apart as Japan’s ultimate old-money status symbol for over 50 years.
As before, there’s a long, boxy body underscored by wraparound chrome trim, but the design – previewed on a prototype at the Tokyo Motor Show last October – has been modernised for the 21st, um, century. The C-pillars, for instance, have been made more upright to highlight the rear quarters in what is predominantly a chauffeur-driven vehicle, and the beveled character line is said to provide an “air of dignity and excellence.”
At the front, the square headlights are now fitted with LED projectors with Adaptive High Beam System (AHS), and they flank an intricate grille design incorporating a looping crown pattern behind the vertical slats. Front and centre is the gold phoenix emblem, carved over a period of six weeks by a single craftsman.
Moving to the rear, the full-width tail lights now have a black centre for a more refined look, while the three-dimensional lenses lend a more harmonious look. You can, as always, pick from a palette of subdued exterior colours, but the most iconic hue – the one you’d really want – is black. This time, it’s a seven-layer paint finish – including a black-tinted clear coat to give an impression of black lacquer – that gets three applications of wet sanding and a mirror finish to bring out the sheen.
Predictably, the new Century is massive – at 5,335 mm long, 1,930 mm wide and 1,505 mm tall, it’s 65 mm longer (all going to the 3,090 mm wheelbase), 40 mm wider and 30 mm taller than the outgoing G50 model. It even dwarfs a long-wheelbase Mercedes-Benz S-Class by being 89 mm longer, 31 mm wider and nine millimetres taller, although the Sonderklasse‘s wheelbase shades it by 75 mm.
Step inside – easing through 15 mm lower side sill – and you’ll find plush 100% wool upholstery rather than the usual leather found on other luxury vehicles, although high-end, soft-textured cowhide is also available as an option. Once ensconced, the horizontal dashboard design maximises the sense of width in the cabin.
This feeling is enhanced through the use of a “slanting lattice” pattern on the fabric headlining, the backs of the front seats and the console between the seats. The latter houses a Blu-ray disc player and an 11.6-inch rear entertainment display, which rear passengers can kick back to watch from their reclining massage seats, stretching out onto a new stepless powered footrest deployed from behind the front passenger seat.
An integrated LCD screen hidden in the rear centre armrest allows those at the rear to control the seat, climate and audio functions. Those required to do business while on the move will be pleased by the inclusion of a writing table and reading light with adjustable brightness, and audiophiles will be able to enjoy their tunes being piped through a 20-speaker premium sound system.
Purists, however, might want to look away: the new Century ditches Toyota’s first and only V12, the venerable 5.0 litre 1GZ-FE, for – gasp! – a V8. The similarly-sized, direct-injected 2UR-FSE mill – paired to twin electric motors and a nickel-metal hydride battery – is the same powertrain package found in the outgoing Lexus LS 600h, albeit with rear-wheel drive rather than the Lexus’ all-paw system.
The engine itself makes 381 PS at 6,200 rpm and 510 Nm of torque at 4,000 rpm, while the electric motors produce 224 PS and 300 Nm. Together, they churn out a total system output of 431 PS, and deliver a combined fuel consumption figure of 13.6 km per litre on the Japanese JC08 cycle.
Toyota has gone through great lengths to isolate the occupants from the outside world, with a seamless installation of soundproofing materials, the use of structural adhesives to increase structural rigidity and the fitment of new suspension arms, bushes, mounts, various rubber components and even specially-developed tyres to increase ride comfort and driving stability, as well as reduced vibration. The new Century also comes with air suspension with Adaptive Variable Suspension System (AVS) dampers and active noise cancellation.
Safety-wise, Toyota Safety Sense P – which includes Pre-Collision System, lane departure warning and adaptive cruise control – comes as standard, along with blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert. Also fitted is a Helpnet automatic emergency reporting system that activates in the event of a collision, as well as the D-Call Net service to radio in ambulance support if the car deems the accident is serious.
Going on sale at all Toyota showrooms across Japan, the new Toyota Century carries a price tag that matches its status as the flagship of the company’s range – a whopping 19,600,000 yen (RM720,400). That’s more than the Mercedes-Benz S 560 L 4Matic, which retails in Japan at 16,990,000 yen (RM622,900) without options. What do you think – ostentatious, or just right up your street?