The Toyota Century is a remarkable vehicle that embodies the elegance and sophistication of Rolls Royce models. Designed under the guidance of Akiyo Toyoda, the visionary successor of the esteemed Sakichi Toyoda, this car seamlessly blends tradition with modernity. Much like the renowned Porsche and Rolls Royce, the Toyota Century gracefully embraces the advancements of our time while remaining deeply rooted in the rich heritage of Japanese excellence and timeless customs.

By Dumi Xaba

In 1967, a remarkable oriental Limousine made its debut on the global platform. It emerged as an emblem of exceptional opulence, serving as a testament to Japan’s unwavering sense of national pride.

This lavish masterpiece was meticulously designed to pay homage to the legendary Sakichi Toyoda, an honour reserved exclusively for a privileged few who possessed a profound devotion to the brand. For those seeking to indulge in the unparalleled opulence of a Rolls-Royce, this remarkable creation offers a splendid alternative, blending the quintessence of both domains to create a masterpiece of automotive excellence.

The Toyota Century has undergone minimal revisions since its introduction in 1967, attesting to its exceptional craftsmanship. In contrast to the preferences of American and European markets, Oriental consumers perceive leather seats as less opulent and more rigid compared to woven cloth. Consequently, the top-tier variant of the Century model features luxurious woven cloth seats instead of leather.

The Toyota Century draws upon the DNA of Rolls Royce models for inspiration, a connection overseen by Akiyo Toyoda, the son of Sakichi Toyoda. Similar to Porsche and Rolls Royce, the Toyota Century has evolved with the changing times while remaining rooted in the tradition of Japanese excellence and honouring its longstanding customs.

It has become a symbol of prestige, attracting top Japanese leaders, as well as the wealthy and renowned. The inclusion of the “Fushico” golden phoenix logo is a fitting representation of royalty within the mystical Japanese culture.

In the domain of automotive royalty, the inaugural Toyota Century, known as the GZG50L, emerged with a commanding presence. Beneath its regal hood, a mighty 5-litre V8 engine roared to life, possessing the strength to effortlessly tow a train.

This majestic masterpiece stood shoulder to shoulder with esteemed counterparts like the Mercedes Maybach, Austin Princess, Cadillac Series 70, and Rolls Royce Phantom, yet shared a kinship with the admired Mercedes Maybach in particular.

The G50, which marked the second iteration of the vehicle, made its debut in 1997. It boasted a powerful Toyota 5L V12 engine capable of generating a maximum output of 220kW, coupled with a 4-speed A342E transmission. Notably, this model enjoyed considerable success and was a rarity, primarily serving as transportation for Japanese ambassadors, the presidential detail, and a select group of affluent and famous Japanese.

The T limousine is an impressively large vehicle, measuring 5.2 meters in length. It carried a price tag of 15,000,000 Yen or 125,000 US Dollars, which is equivalent to approximately R2.3 million in today’s currency or R1.5 million in 1997. While it was the most expensive Toyota model, it still fell below the price range of the Mercedes Maybach, which cost R5 million in 1997, or the Rolls Royce Ghost, whose exact price is only be disclosed upon finalising your specifications, but is estimated to be around R6 million or higher.

The third generation of the Century was introduced at the Tokyo Motor Show in 2017, featuring the same engine as the Lexus LS 600 hybrid. The 5L V8 UWG60 engine delivers an impressive 280kW of power, paired with a smooth e CVT transmission similar to the Lexus LS 500. This powertrain is the most powerful and efficient option available, meeting the requirements of new emission regulations. The 2017 Century was priced at 60,000,000 yen or R7,400,000, making it the most luxurious and expensive model in the Century lineup.

In line with the prevailing market demand for SUVs in the automotive industry, Toyota has unveiled its Century model with a touch of sophistication. This vehicle presents a range of customisable features, enabling customers to personalize various aspects such as seat materials, seating arrangements, and door types. The doors can be wide, swivelling, or sliding, offering both style and convenience.

Each Century model is distinct, ensuring that no two vehicles are identical. Notably, the reclining seats in this vehicle provide a comfortable resting position, reminiscent of the sleeping position found in business class aircraft. Toyota asserts that this is the most noiseless Century model ever manufactured. Furthermore, customers have the option to choose a 2-door open-top variant. The powertrain of the Century is the same plug-in hybrid system utilized in the current Lexus LS600, underscoring Toyota’s dedication to sustainable technology.

The assertion that this recent model is merely influenced by the Japanese automaker tradition of ongoing enhancement lacks persuasiveness in my view. It is difficult for me not to observe the resemblance between the current generation Rolls-Royce Cullinan and the new Century SUV. The headlights of the 2023 BMW X7 bear a striking similarity as well. Additionally, the bluish and silver bottom trimming stands out as an exceptionally attractive colour option.

This particular version of the Toyota Century represents the epitome of technological progress within the brand, embodying the revered golden-winged phoenix emblem that signifies virtue, elegance, and regality in Japanese culture.

Unfortunately, similar to its predecessors that were not made available in our region, it remains uncertain whether the Japanese Luxury chauffeur vehicle, renowned for its refinement and sophistication, will make its way to our shores. According to Toyota’s corporate headquarters, the starting price for this vehicle will be $170,000, which is approximately equivalent to R3.2 million.

In comparison, the Maybach SUV is currently being sold for around R5 million, while the Rolls-Royce Cullinan Black badge commands a price of approximately R16 million.

As a result, the Toyota Century chauffeur vehicle stands out as the most competitively priced option within this specific luxury category.

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