► Range includes saloon, crossover and estate
► Based on all-new platform that promises comfort and performance
► Available in Japan and the US, but won’t come to the UK
This is the new Toyota Crown range. The Japanese brand has revived its iconic flagship model for the modern era, giving it fresh styling inspired by the bZ4x electric SUV, bang-up-to-date interior technology and a choice of hybrid powertrains – one of which features a turbocharger.
Toyota has separated the new Crown line-up into four models. The grey car is a standard-height saloon, the red one is a sporty hatchback, the yellow model is a lifted estate, and the bronze car (pictured below) is a jacked-up saloon designed to appeal to SUV buyers. Toyota calls this model the “Crossover type.”
Given the popularity of the SUV market, Toyota decided to put the latter model on sale first. It’s available to order in Japan now with prices starting from 4,350,000 Yen (around £26,500), climbing to 6,050,000 Yen (almost £37,000) for the best-equipped model with the turbocharged engine.
Toyota isn’t bringing the new Crown in the UK, as it reckons our luxury saloon market is already served well enough by Lexus. However, saloon versions of the car will be sold in the US.
A turbocharged saloon? That’s bit off-brand for Toyota, isn’t it?
Quite. But, because Toyota has been championing hybrid technology for the past two decades, the company’s fleet average CO2 emissions are very low. That means the brand has the freedom to create some interesting petrol-powered cars before the Japanese government (and the EU) bans the same of combustion-engine cars in 2035. Just check out the GR Supra and the GR Yaris.
The new Crown is the next in line. It’s being offered with a choice of two engines – a 2.5-litre hybrid system (which is the same powertrain found in the RAV4 Hybrid and Lexus NX 350h) and a new turbocharged 2.4-litre four-cylinder petrol-hybrid system mated to an old-skool six-speed automatic gearbox instead of the company’s usual CVT.
The latter powertrain is a stark change in direction for the company, as it’s a hybrid system that isn’t focused on efficiency. Toyota’s Japanese sales site says it’ll only return between 16.1–22.4mpg, which is woeful for a hybrid. However, it produces 344bhp and 339ft/lbs of torque – and the driver will be able to shift gears manually using paddles mounted behind the steering wheel.
Toyota’s new 2.4-litre hybrid system features a pair of electric motors – a small one mounted up front to assist the petrol engine and a large one at the rear, giving the Crown four-wheel drive. The most expensive versions of the car will also have a setting in the drive mode selector that can send up to 80 percent of the system’s power to the rear axle.
Sounds good. What about the chassis?
Driver engagement ranked highly on Toyota’s priority list for the new Crown. It’s built on a stiffer version of the company’s GA-K platform, complete with fresh multi-link rear suspension and fancy variable oil pressure shock absorbers that Toyota says can tune the damping for either comfort or handling depending on the driving mode.
The Crown’s steering system is also mounted more rigidly than in Toyota’s other passenger cars for better feedback, and the firm has fitted the car with Active Cornering Assist. It’s an electronically controlled brake system which nips the discs when cornering to reduce understeer.
The Crown’s Crossover variant measures 4,928mm long, 1,539mm high and 1,839 wide which means it’s about the same size as a BMW 5 Series (albeit about 60mm taller). Also, because those huge 21-inch alloy wheels were factored into the early stages of the Crown’s development programme, Toyota says the ride quality hasn’t been negatively affected.
What’s the interior like?
Well-equipped. North American versions of the new Crown get dual-zone climate control, acoustic glass, loads of sound deadening, heated seats and a 12.3-inch infotainment system with voice control. Buyers also get a digital gauge cluster and access to over-the-air updates.
The more lavishly equipped Platinum and Limited models feature a panoramic sunroof, a digital smartphone key and LED ambient lighting for the footwells, cup holders, USB ports and door handles. Buyers can also have a 360-degree parking camera, automatic high-beam assist and a self-parking function that can steer the car into parallel and end-on space.
The design and quality also look like something from a Lexus rather than a Toyota, which goes some way to explaining why the company decided to not launch the car in the UK. In-house competition is a tricky subject – and the Crown would tread on the Lexus ES’s toes.