Since 1967, Toyota has sold a car in Japan even more luxurious than the Lexus LS; it’s Toyota Century. Sold to Japan’s Captains of Industry as a chauffeur-driven sedan, it will be joined by the nameplate’s first SUV later this year at a price of about $170,000.
Meanwhile, the Century sedan, typically powered by V-12 engines, is now powered by a 5.0-liter V-8 hybrid driveline or as fuel-cell electric vehicle.
Redesigned three times since its debut, the Century’s design was always guided by Shoichiro Toyoda, who launched the car to celebrate the birth of Sakichi Toyoda, founder of Toyota.
A changing luxury market
But even as production of the sedan continues, there was a creeping awareness that the luxury market was changing. Indeed, in the same year as the last Century redesign was launched, Rolls-Royce launched its first SUV, the Cullinan.
It was proof that the high-end luxury market was changing, with vehicles like the Bentley Bentayga, Cadillac Escalade and Lamborghini Urus reaching buyers that Toyota’s Century was not.
“Akio Toyoda was acutely aware of this,” said Chief Branding Officer and Head Design Simon Humphries. “He knew that Century had to change.”
And so, it has led to what Humphries has called, “a Century for a new Century,” an SUV that owes much to the Rolls-Royce Cullinan in design.
But it’s not as large than its many competitors, it may be fairly sizable for navigating Japan’s roads. Measuring 204.9 inches long, 78.3 inches wide, and 71 inches tall, it rides on a 116.1-inch wheelbase and weighs 5,666 pounds.
Similar to the upcoming 2024 Lexus TX550+, it’s propelled by a 3.5-liter V-6 plug-in hybrid driveline, with the Century also coming equipped with four-wheel drive and four-wheel steering.
It’s available with a new Rear Comfort mode, which assists the driver in smoothly operating the vehicle and helps to modulate braking to reduce jolts while stopping, to ensure that rear passengers have a comfortable ride.
Rear seat riders rule the rost
But this is a vehicle that caters to its backseat clientele, with doors that swing open 75 degrees, although customers can also opt for rear sliding doors, like those in a minivan.
Then there’s the lavish comfort and convenience features you’d expect given its price tag, such as electrochromatic insulated glass, rear-seat entertainment screens, refrigerator, and two fully reclining seats. And, as you might expect, buyers can customize paint color, interior finishes and seating configuration.
This is certainly a rarified steed, as Toyota plans to build a mere 30 a month in Japan.
Meanwhile, executives hint and online reports speculate that the Century might be sold worldwide, although through what channel, Toyota, Lexus, or something else remains unclear. When asked about stateside Century sales, a Toyota spokesperson would only say that, “we don’t have anything to announce at this time regarding potential availability in the U.S.”
Read between those lines, and you might have the answer.
In the meantime Humphries has this to say about the Century.
“During the development of the first Century in the 1960’s, Japan was still a rising economy. Toyota was yet to compete with exotic imported luxury cars. When Shoichiro Toyoda commissioned Century, it was a huge gamble,” he said.
“Century embodies everything that’s good about Japanese sensibilities, both aesthetically and conceptually.”