This is very likely the most striking car on sale today, the Toyota C-HR.
Inside and out, the car uses extremely expressive forms, taking the deconstructed appearance seen on some front-ends and bringing them around the sides. The exterior is conceived of in a rather different way compared to what, up until now, we have considered standard. It is available as normal petrol-engined car or as a hybrid but that’s not where the interest lies. No, madam.
Previewed at the New York motor show this week, Toyota’s FT-4X Concept.
Maybe it’s the colour. Perhaps it’s the rugged ‘go-anywhere’ appearance. Or it could be the many useful features and imaginative solutions littered throughout the vehicle – (some more fanciful than practical) – but not only do I find the FT-4X charming, but also it strikes me that this or something along similar lines is really what JLR should be offering instead of that insipid looking new Discovery they’re marketing to customers now. Continue reading “Toyota’s (little) Discovery”
I’ve always liked the Mercedes 500K and 540K cars despite the fact that they seem tainted, through no real fault of their own, by association with high-ranking Nazis. In 2 seater form, it’s one of those cars of inordinate length that accommodates just a couple of people. Were all cars like this, our roads would have become gridlocked many years ago, but there’s a harmless decadence to it in my eyes. The Louman’s 500K is one of those fairytale barn-find stories. A Spezial model, one of just 25, it was first purchased in the UK and spent 30 years stored behind a butcher’s shop in Walsall. Discovered and auctioned late in the 1980s, it was beautifully restored in Germany and was a prizewinner at Pebble Beach in 1994. Continue reading “Louwman Museum III : The Pebble Beach Boys”
Almost twenty nine years ago, Toyota unveiled the Lexus LS 400 saloon, giving the European and US luxury car establishment the shock of their lives. That car, lovingly created by a skunkworks of Toyota’s brightest and best was beyond doubt the Honda NSX of luxury saloon cars; a gamechanger for the industry, a new benchmark.
This one shows Toyota in its aero phase and is unusually fuss-free.
It’s still flawed though. The back-end is too heavy around the bumper. I can see that they wanted a swoopy, space-age feel and if the black covering the sills had extended from front to back the car would have achieved a more coherent look and lost no spacey-ness Continue reading “Micropost: 1990-1994 Toyota Camry Estate”
We looked at the extensive failings of the Avensis’ auxiliary controls this week. This article deals with the rest of the car.
Toyota have been making this class of car for 50 years. The Avensis name has been attached to offerings in the middle market for 19 years. This version is third one to carry the name. They ought to be pretty good at this by now. So, we ask, what is it like to drive a vehicle aimed at a competitive and hard-fought and declining segment? Continue reading “2014 Toyota Avensis (Part 2)”
The Avensis tested here is now out of production. This appears to be a 2014-2015 model. The user-interface proved so troubling I had to make that aspect into a separate article.
The rest of the review comes later. The controls are divided into two sets, the driving controls and the auxiliaries. I will deal with the auxiliaries in this article. Overall, the Avensis is riddled with odd choices and evidence of poor decision-making. It exemplifies a number of user-interface principles, but negatively.
This is about colour. Toyota also offered the Yaris in a metallic mint green. Later years seldom saw such personal colours.
The Yaris is a car that I feel has been around for longer than it has. Why is that? The first one had a zany Europroduct appearance which has gone direct from fresh to “period” with no intervening awkward phase. The dusky pink looks pinkier when you Continue reading “Micropost: 1999-2005 Toyota Yaris”
DTW is evidently in the middle of reappraisal of Japanese cars in general and Toyota in particular. Here you are invited to look more closely at the 2016 Prius.
I remember around the year 2000 finding the then-new Mazda 323F to be over-styled. “That’s the new school of over-styling,” I said as I looked at the car in the town of Bath, England. What would my younger self make of the Prius confection? It’s not hard to say that he’d have hated it. Something has happened to my judgement in the interim and it could be good or it could be bad. Continue reading “Gallery: 2016 Toyota Prius”
Recently DTW tested the arch-mainstream car, the VW Golf. This week we sample the joys of Toyota’s Auris and find out a little about how the two cars compare.
I don’t imagine that many people accept the keys of an Auris with much sense of excitement. However, I experienced a small burst of what many would call satisfaction when I found myself cupping the Auris’ keys in my hot little hand. A few weeks back I tested what many consider the benchmark C-class car, the VW Golf. Driving the Auris so soon after experiencing the Golf meant I had a good frame of reference for the Auris. I’ve also driven most of the other C-class cars, apart from the current Astra. That means I think I can offer this review with some sense of perspective. Continue reading “2016 Toyota Auris 1.6 Valvematic 5-door Road Test”
Toyota’s late-’60s image builder comes under the DTW zoom-lens.
Commercially speaking, Toyota seems to have fared perfectly well without image-building halo cars. While enthusiasts have been well served by numerous performance models over the decades, the Japanese car giant eschewed outright exotics. Not so fast though. As long ago as 1965, crowds at the Tokyo motor show were enraptured by the introduction a sleek and beautifully proportioned coupe from that most conservative of Japan’s burgeoning manufacturers. Deliveries began two years later, but by the decade’s end, after a mere 337 cars, the Toyota 2000GT evaporated from view as quickly as it emerged. Continue reading “Theme: Japan – Toyota’s First Supra-Car”
It’s a peculiar entity, Toyota. More like a small landless nation than a company. It can produce remarkably effective entrants and also miss the mark in its own unique way. Nobody understands it. I try to.
Like GM, Toyota is a sprawling enterprise, with operations all over the world and a large range of vehicles. Unlike GM, Toyota’s failures are seldom mystifying acts of dunderheadness. Even the least successful Toyotas are quality machines which demonstrate the relentless application of diligence. In contrast, GM cars can be entertainingly terrible which can be put down to missing diligence. What Toyota can possibly match the legendary Pontiac Aztek for its florid incompetence? The Solstice’s boot held only a spare wheel. Which Lexus failed as spectacularly as the Cimarron or Catera? Continue reading “Theme: Japan – The Gentleman”
This could well be another item in the Japanese-theme series we’re running. The title would then be so long I’d have no room for the rest of the article.
The short story about this car is that it’s Toyota’s first front wheel drive entrant in the mid-size market. The previous Camry had rear-wheel drive. Wikipedia has all the nitty plus all the gritty details of engines (this is probably a 1.8 litre four-cylinder car) and product evolution. They also explain the difference between the cars sold in the two lines of Toyota dealerships (very little). One channel is the Toyota Corolla Store and the other is the Toyota Vista Store. The European models at this time received the Toyota Vista Store grilles, making it more like the Japanese-market Toyota Vista than the Japanese market Toyota Camry or US Camry. I’ll get to the bottom of this dual line of dealerships one day. It’s more confusing than string theory. Continue reading “A photo Series For Sunday: 1982- 1986 Toyota Camry DX”
Given this month’s theme and the fact that we like Curbside Classics here, we link to a nice and short featurette about the Toyota Crown. As usual, there are some useful comments below the main article which also include some photos of the interior.
Toyota made their reputation (and the bulk of their profits) on serious (if occasionally dull) cars. The Yaris however was different.
This month’s theme has brought to mind, for the first time, that I don’t really think about the nationality of the cars that I buy – with the possible exception of German ones (I seem to pathologically avoid them for being too obvious a choice). I arrived at this via the realisation that, in the S.V. Robinson car buying nationality stakes, Japan stands second only to France. And I found myself rather discombobulated at this. Continue reading “Theme: Japan – The Best Ever Toyota Design?”
How Toyota finally put the horse before the cart in what was, in one sense at least, a bit of a Triumph.
Despite promises of Waku-Doki and its work with EVs, Toyota remains in many ways a cautious company. Once I might have said this with a tinge of contempt, but certainly not now. The motor industry is a dangerous business, yet Toyota has survived and prospered because, generally, they know exactly what they are doing.
Until recently, Toyota made the sort of cars which wouldn’t say boo to a goose, to use that strange, but expressive phrase. All that seems to be about to change.
The Mirai and latest Prius look as if they would cross a busy road themselves if there was a goose-booing opportunity on the other side, and the C-HR crossover which debuted at Geneva keeps up the trend. In the current manner, it’s tamed down a bit from the C-HR concept shown last year at Frankfurt. However it still tends towards the egregious. I’ve been inured to this since the shock of the Nissan Puke, and I think the Toyota hangs together rather better. Continue reading “Geneva Bites – What’s happening to Toyota?”
There is a fine line between the severely rational and the bland. The 1997 Toyota Avensis is bland yet there is a hint of something else there too.
What little character the car has did come from somewhere. So, what inspired the theme? To try to understand this car is to try to guess at what else Toyota had in mind when developing it. If the car was launched in 1997 then the designers were looking at cars launched or on sale in three years before: 1994. What do we find? The Opel Omega and Renault Laguna had the most impact. The Peugeot 406 and Mazda 626 estates also guided the packaging targets. Continue reading “Understanding Blandness”
We look at what people do to a Driven to Write favourite in the name of individualism.
Whenever the 1971 to 1974 Toyota Crown S60 is discussed in the pages of Driven To Write, it is notable that there is a fair deal of respect and affection for it, much more than there was in the UK and US at the time of its launch. But we are discussing the stock vehicle. What is our attitude to the various modifications, small or substantial, that have been visited onto this particular version of the ‘living legend’ (to quote Toyota)? Continue reading “Theme : Special – Polishing The Crown”
As promised, here is a small fillet of Motor (July 1972) who took the time and trouble almost 44 years ago to prepare a review of the Toyota Crown estate.
Images of this car are rather hard to come by and few of the cars remain. If you are aesthetically sensitive be careful searching for photos because for some reason a worrying number of them feature inappropriate wheels and a lowered ride-height.
Partly to make us look industrious and partly because I hate putting images into the comments box, I have turned this into a micropost. It relates to Sean’s article yesterday. How systematic is Waku-Doki? It’s this systematic:
Did it lose something in translation, or was it ever there at all?
Waku-Doki! Like many vernacular expressions, translation into another language is unlikely to give the same emphasis. Toyota translates it as the lame “heart-pumping excitement”, but the untranslated Japanese expression does have a certain satisfyingly onomatopoeic sound to anglophone ears
Recently we discussed three examples of the glazed C-pillar phenomenon. We listed the Ford Granada, Olds Cutlass and Mitsubishi Lancer. How did we forget the 1987 Toyota Corolla Liftback?
We’d even mentioned it before. This example has been spending quality time under a tree. How long does it take for that green stuff to form? The Liftback is from 1987 and Ford’s similarly styled Granada is from 1985. That places the two designs so close together in time that Toyota can be exonerated from allegations of photocopying. So, where did Ford Continue reading “Glazed C-pillars From the ’80s”
It’s all Lady Gaga’s fault, say Toyota. Well, you’d try to spread the blame too.
We’ve become accustomed to hearing Car designers come up with all manner of implausible justifications for their creations, but does anybody take this stuff seriously? To my eyes there’s now a tacit understanding between designer-spokesman and us, the auto-literate. They know we won’t believe a word, while we view their pronouncements with the contempt they habitually deserve. This is where Shunsaku Kodama comes in. As the Toyota designer responsible for the 2016 Prius, he has rather a lot of explaining to do. Continue reading “Born This Way? – The Prius Goes Gaga”
Two weeks ago we ran a favourable commentary on the 2015 Toyota SF-R concept car. Car Design News (a great source) has declared the SF-R the car of the show. We just liked its use of felt on the door-skins.
I am not sure I could say definitively the S-FR is the best of the show (I wasn’t there) but I like almost all of it. The one part troubling me is the way the headlamps are treated. Here they are again. This is what the designer said: “So yes it’s cute but being cute is not enough which is why we used the hood surface to cut off the corner of its eyes.” I think that such is the power of circular and elliptical shapes that one has a tendency to Continue reading “Car Design News Agrees With Us”
The blogosphere has been excited about this “concept” car which is scheduled for production. Most people like the sportscar format and funky exterior design. We like it because….
…it has felt door cards. This material has been hanging around waiting to be used in this way for a long time. As well as being recyclable and very light compared to plastic, it improves the cabin acoustics and feels nicer to the touch. The minimum radius attainable by felt is quite large so it yields nice round forms and smooth sweeps when folded across the door structure. Handling this must have provided some challenges to the manufacturer and I am in doubt as to whether it will see the light of day.
The 2000-2004 Toyota Yaris Verso’s A-pillar is not quite tidied up, as if they lacked time for one more iteration during the modelling process.
The mirror sail panel is abutting the door-shut slightly and the A-pillar ends with an irregular looking outline. The doorshutline ought to have enclosed the mirror panel, perhaps. The rest of the car is equally unruly.
Toyota Aygo and Citroen C1. Logic suggests these two cars would have identical constructions, but apparently not.
The previous generation small car from Toyota and PSA, though basically the same vehicle, differed quite markedly in its rear treatment, particularly in 5 door form.
The Toyota is more conventional and looks, maybe, the slightly more substantial, grown-up car with a full body panel, seamlessly integrated with the body structure from sill to roof. All the normal joins are present – bumper to wing/wing to door/door to wheelarch/tailgate to rear wing, etc. Continue reading “Theme : Shutlines – One Car / Two Solutions”
Is a posh Corolla an oxymoron? Not in Ireland during the 1980’s.
It might surprise you, but the (AE92-series) Corolla, in 1.6 GLi form, was considered a desirable upmarket car in Ireland during the latter part of the 1980’s, before we became brand snobs like everyone else. This era also coincided with two more appealing slightly upmarket Japanese hatchbacks – Mazda’s 323F and Honda’s 5-door Integra.
Behold, a lovingly repainted Toyota Crown, from circa 1983.
This weekend the Classic Race took place in Aarhus. I went along to have a look at the cars on view near the race track. However, the most interesting and unusual car I saw was not among the 911s, Ferraris, Beetles, Amazons, 2002s and Morris Minors gathered in the paddock. Continue reading “Just Parked Up: 1983 Toyota Crown”
Classic car sales is not a line of business known for its propensity to change. Thus I am impressed by the efforts made by RK Motors of Charlotte, North Carolina, to invest in their presentation methods.
I chose this film at random and was very taken with the slick visuals to to display the features and quality of the vehicle. While most of the visual moves are directly from the play-book of television automotive advertising, it is noteworthy to see them applied to a single car. Continue reading “Innovation in classic car sales”
Having sniffed the exhaust pipes of the French and German marques within Europe’s D-segment, we make one last visit to wave a fond adieu to our friends from Japan.
A facelifted Toyota Avensis bowed in at Geneva, featuring front-end styling eerily familiar to current Auris and Corolla owners. It probably represents the last opportunity to purchase one of these while they’re still warm because Toyota has broadly hinted that they may not replace the model once it breathes its last in a couple of year’s time. Continue reading “The European D-Sector – So Long, Farewell…Sayonara”
Iggy Pop´s song The Passenger springs to mind now that Simon has launched another theme of the month.
In the great tradition of advertisers misunderstanding lyrics, Toyota chose Iggy Pop´s 1977 song to sell the 1997 Avensis, a car so incredibly uninteresting** that even I won´t be caught trying to discover its appeal. The external appearance is as close as you can get to a characterless vehicle while still being convincingly realistic. The theme Toyota were trying to get us to understand was that by being so incredibly relaxing, driving an Avensis was like being a passenger. Continue reading “Theme: Passengers – The Passenger by Iggy Pop”
I am indebted to Eoin for drawing my attention to the repugnant excess of the Mercedes S-class interior.
This has led me to Japan to investigate their approach to boardroom-level transport. Helping me along the way was an article at The Truth About Cars about the Tokyo car show of 1995 and a live web-page showing Nissan´s offerings then. Apparently the web-page is still live, having been left running in all its 1995 glory these last 19 years. One of the cars on the list was the Nissan President of which I had never heard. With this in mind and Eoin´s article freshly published Continue reading “Theme : Dashboards – Japanese Prestige”
Little credit goes to Toyota´s designers for their contribution to dashboard design. Let´s change that and reconsider the seventh generation of the Corolla, the E100, on sale from 1991 to 1995.
Toyota has always carefully controlled the extent to which the fashions of the times have influenced its dashboards´appearance. Corolla customers are such that they want the car to be as unobtrusive as possible and perhaps they are even unaware of this powerful desire. For any designer to make a shape that meets this requirement is far from easy. It is like designing unspoken rules, design for the tacit. To do what designers often do, driven by ego, is to seek attention. Continue reading “Theme: Dashboards – Toyota´s subtle game”
This has turned into something of a long-term test. With a third chance to drive the car, DTW has some extra insight on living with Toyota´s second smallest car.
Perhaps the most illuminating aspect of adding another four days to the tally of six, is that a few important details have turned up, all of them bad. DTW conducted most of the original testing when the days were longer. This time, night driving in humid weather has shown up two details that might irritate or perhaps prove too grating to live with. Continue reading “2014 Toyota Aygo 1.1 VVTi – review Part 3”
How did a second chance to drive the 2014 Toyota Aygo alter my view?
A while back I tested the Toyota Aygo and reported here on my impressions. I have had another chance to sample the same car (Sept. 19-21). This time I did a bit of silly driving and paid attention to a strange characteristic of the gear shift recommendations.
The silly driving resulted in some sliding and understeer which I didn´t mind much at all. What I noticed though was the power band and gearing behaviour became a nuisance. The main feature involved a dead spot in third and fourth gear. Upshifts from first to second didn´t attract my attention. The first to second comes at about 30 kmph. Second to third produces a similar amount of acceleration up to 50 kmph. So far so fine. Continue reading “Take two: 2014 Toyota Aygo road tested a bit more”
This week DTW has the new Toyota Aygo on test. Launched at the 2014 Geneva motor show, it´s only just arrived on the market. So, how did the car fare during a punishing three day investigation involving child-seats, sand and small pebbles?
The engine is the 59 HP 1.0 VVTi in-line three pot. The “VVT” part stands for variable valve timing which has been around since 1996. The bore and stroke are 71 mm and 84 mm respectively. The Aygo comes with stop-start technology and this functioned well enough for me to learn to trust it. It can start the car faster than I could and this eliminated a lot of useless idling while waiting at lights. Simply stop the car, take your foot off the clutch and the engine cuts. When you stand on the clutch again the engine fires up…and off you go. The rest of the engineering details Continue reading “2014 Toyota Aygo 1.0 VVT-i review”
Could there be anything wrong with trying to design cars that can avoid an automotive face-lift?
When Simon came up with this topic we all immediately thought of the classic facelift disasters. Then there were the handful of acknowledged facelift successes; these have been touched upon by DTW at various points over the month. We are are also aware that some firms make a routine of “mid-cycle refreshes” as they are termed by those in the know. And this is probably to be deplored since facelifting a car means Continue reading “Theme : Facelifts – Does Your Car Pass the Facelift Test?”