Yes, this really is a brand-new car.
Half a century has gone by since Toyota first brought about the Century, with the 1967 original bringing new levels of luxury and grace to the brand, catering to customers like captains of industry, high-level yakuza bosses, and the Japanese Emperor and his imperial court. Despite being built by the same manufacturer that makes the Corolla and the Yaris, the Century simply operated on another level, with a customer base that could be mentioned in the same breath as Rolls-Royce.
Despite having been around for 50-years, the Century nameplate has only been affixed to three generations of motorcars, with the 2018 model being the third. The first-generation Century stayed in production for a staggering 30-years with incremental updates, and was famed for its uncompromising luxury and buttery-smooth mechanicals, with the Japanese luxury barge powered by a silky V12 engine.
On to the third generation, the Century maintains the styling that’s been synonymous with the badge (which is a phoenix, and not a Spirit of Ecstasy knockoff), but ditches the V12 in favour of something more this-century. The 2018 model now sees motivation from a petrol-electric V8 hybrid system, sending power to the rear wheels through some form of automatic gearbox (a CVT is likely).
Very little details were offered with the circulated photographs, and we expect to be able to glean more details when the car arrives for its global debut at the Tokyo Motor Show. What has been clarified are the cabin features, which are set to push the limits of luxury to a whole new level with this latest-generation car.
The latest Century limousine claims that its rear doors now open larger and taller, allowing for easier ingress and egress for rear occupants, aided further by a reduced gap between the sills and the floor. The rear half of the cabin enjoys two electrically-adjustable thrones with massage functionality, a fold-down powered footrest, an absolutely enormous centrally-mounted rear entertainment screen, a touchscreen interface to control the audio system, and the requisite climate control systems (likely three or four-zone, with emphasis on the rear). There are even lace window curtains on offer, while the cabin can be trimmed either in soft (but rather awful-looking) wool or soft-textured leather.
Because this is a Century for this century, there are things like full-LED headlights up front, replete with an adaptive beam system, collision-avoidance technology, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, as well as a 20-speaker sound system.
The Toyota Century, a car never officially offered outside of Japan, is a car that is reserved only for the most elitist elitists, with a story circulating that an American who tried to buy one in Japan some time ago had his order rejected for fear that it might dilute the hallowed nameplate. There’s little indication that this 3rd-generation car will ever be officially exported, but we can dream of owning such a rarity, can’t we?