Most luxury carmakers tend to cram every latest gadget into their vehicles in an effort to outdo the competition. The model refresh that comes every three or four years is an opportunity for them to throw in lots of chrome, bigger wheels, more speakers and larger screens. But for the Toyota Century, none of that matters. Not even time. Toyota’s flagship limousine turns 51 this year, and it’s only on its third reboot.
Toyota’s new Century makes its debut after the outgoing model’s 21 years of service. Thankfully, every crease, bend and corner in the body is elegantly kept in check. The exterior isn’t drowned in gaudy chrome bits. The wheel size is just perfect. The Japanese aesthetic of “passive symmetry” is so brilliantly executed that the car never looks disproportionate from any angle. Its confident yet understated look doesn’t draw too much attention, but can still hold its own against the Century’s counterparts from Europe and the US.
The Century has unique touches inspired by Japanese heritage and expert craftsmanship. The bespoke phoenix emblem, which is fitted only to the Century, is painstakingly handcrafted by skilled artists. The radiator grille features a unique design that is said to “symbolize harmony, prosperity and flourishing posterity.”
Toyota would only be happy to sell this car to you in any color as long as it is black. But while a single color option may sound simple, the Century deserves nothing less than the best shade of black in the world. The several layers of the base coat and the special clear coat aren’t even good enough as the car receives several rounds of sanding and polishing until the surface is rid of all blemishes and imperfections.
Those lucky enough to be shuttled in a Toyota Century are treated to luxury that pays close attention to the smallest of details. Engineers redesigned the floor pan so that the carpet would lay completely flat. The raised ceiling is covered with a fabric with an ornate pattern “that represents lifelong prosperity for the home” or, in this case, the cabin.
Those lucky enough to be shuttled in a Toyota Century are treated to luxury that pays close attention to the smallest of details
For the deserving VIP, the rear seat opposite the chauffeur has a power leg rest and a massage function. The high-tech entertainment system singing through 20 speakers makes the new Century fit for the, er, 21st century. Between the rear seats is a touchscreen panel that controls various functions within the car, including the powered curtains. Yes, curtains. So passengers can shield themselves from the envious stares of peasants in lowly Camrys and Corollas.
Toyota retires its only production V12 engine along with the previous-generation Century. A 5.0-liter V8 hybrid powertrain found in most high-end Lexus models takes its place. The 2UR-FSE V8 produces 376hp and 510Nm, and the coupled electric motor adds 221hp and 300Nm. With a heavy vehicle like the Century, emphasis is put on low-end torque to enable the car to effortlessly accelerate from a standstill.
Muffling the unwanted perturbations coming from the outside world is an active noise control system that ensures the cabin remains as tranquil as a ryokan (traditional Japanese inn). The active air suspension system is tweaked with special rubber bushings and mounts to make the ride as comfortable as possible.
The new Century also comes equipped with the Toyota Safety Sense electronic suite of various active and passive protection systems. In addition, the car is looked after by a network of organizations that can alert the authorities and dispatch medical personnel in the event of a crash.
This is a car that cannot be properly described with superlatives. It’s not even begging for superlatives. It does its thing just right. And doing things just right never ever goes out of style. If previous iterations of the Century are anything to go by, we’re certain that the new one will confidently stand the test of time.