Toyota Century morphs into an SUV – imperious new Tokyo Tonka to rival Rolls-Royce and Bentley | CAR Magazine

Toyota Century morphs into an SUV – imperious new Tokyo Tonka to rival Rolls-Royce and Bentley

Published: 06 September 2023 Updated: 06 September 2023

► New Toyota Century is here
► Trad limo morphs into giant SUV
► Plug-in hybrid tech, sales in Japan

If you’ve ever been to Tokyo, the chances are you’ll have seen the stately Toyota Century limos rolling around the world’s first megacity, boxy upright slabs of Japanese engineering cruising the urban jungle in a stately hush.

Now there’s a new type of Century – which bends to the whim of the SUV craze. Yes, an even bigger, higher, boxier Toyota Century is here for 2024 and it’s very much aimed as a chauffeur spec luxury car to rival luxury SUVs from the likes of Rolls-Royce and Bentley.

It’s the first time since 1967 that the Century saloon bloodline has deviated from its three-box sedan origins.

The new 2023 Toyota Century 4x4: shades of Bentayga?

Notice the bluff front end and tall stance: at 1.8m high, the SUV is a chunky 30cm taller than the low-riding Century saloon.

New Toyota Century: watch out Bentayga?

Two-tone paint and distinctive coachlines complete the luxury look: it’s a silhouette straight out of the design boardrooms of Crewe and Goodwood. The traditional Century phoenix emblem adorns the bonnet, between two rows of quad headlamps on either side for what Toyota calls ‘a gaze full of dignity.’

It’s all about luxury in the cabin, with four fully reclining seats and rear doors that open 75 degrees to ease ingress. This is a big car, stretching to 5.2m long (although that is 13cm shorter than the Century saloon, which continues on sale).

Two rear armchairs in Toyota Century SUV

The new Toyota Century is based on the latest global Toyota TNGA platform and is plug-in hybrid only, pairing a 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine with an electric motor for silent progress at slow speeds. No performance specs have been released yet.

When can I buy one?

Order books are open now in Japan, where the Toyota Century costs 25 million yen (equivalent to £135,000). Which might explain why they’re only going to build 30 a month, all sold through the Century Meisters super-dealers used to dealing with more bespoke customers. They plan to individualise most models to a customer’s precise whim.

There are no plans to export it to Europe yet, sadly. Those Lost in Translation moments will have to wait for your next trip to the Japanese cities that never sleep…

By Tim Pollard

Group digital editorial director, car news magnet, crafter of words