Posts tagged ‘toyota’

Haval Jolion

Treat Haval as the Huawei of the vehicle world. Tech-laden features not seen in this price bracket will keep driver and passengers entertained. China-backed Great Wall Motor (GWM) is not shy introducing as many gadgets as they could in this compact SUV – a 12.3-inch centre console, HUD, 14 sensors and 5 cameras – it’s a numerical arms race in the tech department. Pound for pound, it is priced 10 – 15% lower than the HR-V and Corolla Cross. We reckon that should Singapore entertain interest from Haval, most of them should roll off its Rayong factory – a 2-hour drive South-East from Bangkok.

Ora Good Cat

At first glance, this cute little hatch also from GWM looks like a combination of Nissan’s Figaro front and Honda EK9’s rear. We’re glad that this looks nothing like MINI as one could easily perceive this as a “knock off”, but we are confident of GWM’s intention to provide good value and quality. When viewed in its entirety, it does look pretty convincing, with smooth lines from A to C pillars supplying a very modern and striking silhouette. Base-spec packs a 47.8kWh battery, which charges to 80% in 30 minutes. With a range of 400km, it should be a fuss free compact hatch for quick market runs. It is priced similarly to the Corolla Cross / HR-V in Thailand, making it a sensible financial decision if you want a full EV that doesn’t break the bank.

Honda HR-V

It’s only a matter of time Kah Motor brings this new HR-V in. Our IG story poll suggests that more prefer the previous gen’s looks over this – could it be due to the increasingly common rear light strips also present in Ora’s Good Cat (and Lexus’ IS / NX range)? Lenspeed feels that it’s about time for the new HR-V to ply local roads to spice up the hybrid segment – keen to see how e:HEV with Lithium-ion battery stacks up against Toyota’s Nickel-metal Hydride hybrid. We reckon this tech should have no issues achieving more than 20km/l on expressways even with the fairly small battery pack.

Toyota Corolla Cross

Pictured is Toyota Corolla Cross’ GR Sport variant – top spec with suspension work tuned by Gazoo Racing alongside other cosmetic mods. We’re more keen on regular models for this compact SUV. 1.8 NA hybrid should be perfect for Singapore roads, with the battery doing most of the work from standstill, and petrol motor kicking in when roads open up. At least for now, hybrid sounds more relevant to quell range anxiety of full EVs. Ideal for families who need a step up from the Yaris Cross (not available in Thailand) in terms of storage. We might not need to wait long though – Borneo Motors might bring it in by June 2022.

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Text and photos by Ronald Chua


Few of us would ever get the chance to visit Toyota Mega Web; even fewer still get to ever drive the V12-powered Toyota Century. Here’s a take from Ronald, whom we have invited to contribute about his experience in Japan’s ultimate luxury sedan…


To a car enthusiast, a trip to Tokyo, Japan would not be complete without paying a visit to Toyota’s Mega Web located in Odaiba. Mega Web can be described as the theme park for a car lover where any Japanese Domestic Model from the Toyota lineup can be test driven on a purpose built test track for 300 yen.

The main attraction for me was the Toyota Century – a Japanese leviathan that is powered by a 5.0 litre V12 made solely for this model. The Century is a status symbol of success for the conservative Japanese businessman who viewed the offerings from Mercedes, BMW and Jaguar to be too ‘loud’ and attention-seeking. First launched in 1967 as a competitor to the Mitsubishi Debonair and Nissan President, the first generation Century was produced from 1967 to 1997 with a V8 engine that dated back to the ‘60s. The second generation retained the classic looks, the hand built heritage and incorporated a new V12 engine within.


On first sight, one might mistake the Century for a Toyota Crown taxi before actually realising how huge this limousine is at almost 5.3m. In fact, the Century has an old-world charm about it with two front fender mounted side mirrors and a typical slab-sided ‘squarish’ design. The attention to detail can be seen from the intricate chrome detailing around the wheel fenders, side blinkers as well as the emblems fitted all around. There are also no Toyota logos on the car and instead, a ‘C E N T U R Y’ nameplate is fitted on the rear trunk.


While walking towards the Century parked at the waiting area, the engine sound was barely audible at idle. All that could be heard was the low pitched fan that reminds one of an old Mercedes. The doors of the Century also close with a solid thump that is not usually associated with Japanese vehicles. Once you settle into the driver seat, you realise how quiet the car is on the inside. Upon closer inspection, the air-con vents actually swivel to distribute cold air to each passenger. Something that bothered me would be the digital speed readout on the dashboard which was slightly out of place on a timeless car like this. You would also realise that most buttons, stalks and switches can be found in a Corolla or Camry. What makes a Century special though, is the quality of the vehicle, which began to show itself on the test drive.

On the road, the car wafts along. Pedal travel is long to ensure steady acceleration for a comfortable ride. The test track at Mega Web encompasses 2 straight roads, a slalom course, a cobbled street as well as a tight curved road mimicking a tight city street. The Century picks up speed quickly upon full acceleration which is reminiscent of a Mercedes W126 or W140. The comfort set-up is obvious when the car pitches and dives on hard acceleration and braking. Needless to say, the car also rolled a fair bit around the short slalom course.


Appreciation for the comfort leanings of the car really swelled when the car practically steam-rolled cobbled streets and speed bumps, with the air suspension maintaining a comfortable ride for passengers. All one can hear is the sound of the air-con when the car is cruising along. It’s worth noting that visibility is excellent; even around tight corners, the Century was easy to manoeuvre with the driver being able to see all 4 corners of the car with ease.


Driving (or even owning) a Century is an experience on its own. The car is very ‘Japanese’ from the way it is over-engineered. It was as though a Japanese engineer sat down one day and decided that a typical Mercedes or BMW was too pretentious for a Japanese businessman. Leather was replaced with wool seats to minimise squeaking seats, door latches were replaced with electric motors to reduce the ‘clunkiness’ of pulling a door handle and curtains were used instead of having tinted windows. All these Japanese engineering might not be appreciated in international markets but it is definitely clear that the Century has a special place in the upper echelons of the Japanese society with the Century being seen all over Ginza in the evenings with a chauffeur driving the car.


Let’s hope Toyota keeps this luxo-barge in production for that special niche market that it targets.

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Text by Hussain Rashid, images by Hussain Rashid and SMMT

Our UK correspondent, Hussain Rashid, joins his maiden SMMT event and here’s what he had to say after driving the Toyota AE 86 and the contemporary GT 86…


The Toyota GT 86 is the most recent in a long and popular line of Toyota sports cars. At the Millbrook testing grounds we were given the special chance to drive it alongside its forefather, a now legendary car whose name it carries, the Toyota Corolla AE 86. This provided the chance to understand the enduring magic of the Corolla which helped inspire the launch of the long overdue ‘86’ brand of pure bred Toyota sports cars in 2012.

The Toyota’s history has humble beginnings. The AE 86 began production in 1983 and was initially launched as a reliable and inexpensive coupe produced for worldwide distribution. The AE 86’s cult-status is closely connected to the rise of the beloved Japanese racing-driver Keiichi Tsuchiya. Over his career Keiichi worked his way up the motorsport ladder from amateur local road races all the way to the heights of Le Mans, with his car of choice for his early domestic career being the AE 86 bought for him as a teenager by his father. The lightweight rear wheel drive AE 86 was well suited to being slid through the steep winding roads of his home town where he honed his skills, which were then directly transferred to Japanese downhill course competitions. The ability to drift and balance the car through low grip corners would allow him to carry more corner speed than his competitors and thus win races and championships. The sight of perfectly controlled four-wheel drifts and smoking tyres quickly endeared the modified Corolla sports car and its owner throughout Japan and far beyond.


So there I stood in front of a rare unmodified Corolla AE 86 on a crisp British spring morning at the Society of Motor Manufacturer and Traders (SMMT) open test event. Next to a lipstick red GT86, with a throng of motoring journalists fawning over it, the AE 86 looked almost bland. It has a real ‘old school’ look designed at a time when straight lines were preferred to curves. Even its raw specifications are understated with 123 BHP from a 1.6L engine and a 0-60mph of 8.7 seconds. But as I was about to be reminded both Toyota’s are about more than the numbers. Without further hesitation I set off for my very first lap of the Millbrook hill course, a twisty narrow strip of asphalt bordered by Armco barriers set in the British countryside. The course can only be described as a British Nurburgring as it was built to test cars over steep elevation change, varying radii corners and even a jump or two.


I set off tentatively, almost expecting a tail happy car and preparing for the struggle of driving without the luxury of power steering. However, like a well-worn pair of boots the steering was tough yet comfortably loose and altogether very manageable. It takes some acclimatisation but the feel through the wheel is analogue steering at its best – non adulterated and direct. The first few bends I took at a comfortable pace, ready for the rear end to move on me but the car was light, easy to steer and stuck to my lines with a perfect balance. At higher speeds and on winding roads, the car almost wanted to be driven like a go-kart, being ‘chucked’ into the corners and being allowed to shake off any rust. Although I must admit I for once felt no real urge to drive this rare specimen to its limits.

Of course anyone who has been lucky enough to drive or be a passenger in this car will attest to the cars defining feature – the sound it makes. Toyota equipped the twin-cam engine with T-VIS or Toyota Variable Induction System. The theory is simple but effective. At low to mid revs the engines air intake is partially closed and narrow, which maintains a high air speed to the engine and allows for maximised torque at low revs. However when the engine is pushed past a 4500 RPM threshold a valve opens increasing the diameter of the inlet, reducing resistance, increasing air-flow and allowing maximum torque delivery all the way up to the 7000 RPM redline. In real terms, what this results in an engine note can only be described as buzzy at low revs, and borderline deafening at high revs. This fantastic torque delivery makes the car feel direct and alive and it is a joy to heel and toe the car as it gives off satisfying grunts of sound with throttle blips whilst you shift through the gears.


Of course the drive came to an end too soon and fresh out the AE86 I was ready to explore the GT86. The attention to detail is impressive. The beautiful ’86’ logo of course is a nod to the AE86 of the past, a car whose pure driving experience Toyota were keen to emulate. Toyota have also rather cheekily made it a practical name too as it also signifies the engine’s 86mm x 86mm bore and stroke as well as the 86mm diameter of the exhaust. The steering wheel is free of any buttons or confusing shortcuts to car hi-fi systems. The car is of course more powerful and grippy than its relative – but not excessively so. The car has a relatively modest 0-60mph of 7.6 seconds from a 4-cylinder 198BHP engine, which has been given a shorter stroke to allow the engine to rev higher and gives a driver plenty more noise and thrust at road legal speeds.

Setting off again onto the testing track I was immediately reassured by the handling. The same perfect balance is there but the steering is extremely direct and the car obeys your inputs with surgical precision. I immediately felt I could push the car hard and within a lap I was able to lean on the car through the corners at speeds I would be alarmed to do in the AE 86. Closer to the limit the car constantly updates you with its grip levels and warns you if you ask too much from it, the front end was occasionally skittish and jumpy through tighter turns whilst looking for grip. It’s a car that seemed impressed by my very modest attempts to drive it fast and I felt like I was making the car work, which gave me huge satisfaction. Unlike some high-performance cars that sneer at your most devilish turn-ins and handle with ease, the GT86 is playful and satisfying to drive. It’s the perfect car for a Sunday drive through winding roads and of the 15 performance cars I drove on the day it was the only car that made me want to do a third lap around the circuit, pushing a little harder and being rewarded with more performance every single corner.


So with sadness I had to bring the car back and reflect on the two cars, and indeed the two eras they were born in. There’s no doubt that the technological jumps made over the past twenty years have distilled the pure driving experience for drivers who love to feel like they are an important part of the cars mechanism and revel in the raw sounds and eccentricities of older cars. The GT86 sounds like it drives, it’s fantastic, thrilling but not unusually so. By comparison the AE 86 sounds amazing, primal and unlike anything that is produced in a 126 BHP car today. The noise is of course the sound of inefficiency. The engineers at Toyota have re-stabled the loose horses back into the engine in the 28 years since production. However whatever terribly inefficient engineering was involved in its design, it produced something that put the biggest smile on my face.

A big thanks to the SMMT for organising this fantastic event and everyone associated with Toyota

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