In 1998 the Lexus brand had only reached its ninth birthday. Up until 1998 it had two cars on sale in the Euromarket, the LS400 saloon and the GS300. With the LS200, Lexus extended its range into BMW 3-series territory. Was it a Good Thing?
While consistency can be a bit tedious in the arts, in business it is generally a positive attribute. In some ways, Lexus had consistency nailed down. All their cars have been screwed together by black-belt, Olympic level robots and technicians.
The LS400 itself had already become a legend for quality. Intended to be the world’s best car until the next one came along, a case can be made that it is still the world’s best car when all measurable parameters have been balanced. In a more shallow way, Lexus did not manage consistency, not the kind valued by people who value consistency for its own sake and are utterly unwilling to Continue reading “Could Tiresias Have Foreseen This?”
Modernity or futurism are not what they used to be. It’s only a little over three years since DTW addressed this subject*. I’ll return to it today with some more focus.
Prompted by a recent discussion of the relative modernity of the Citroen CX and Citroen XM (less modern) I will mentate on the finitude of futurism. The core of this relates to the observation that if one compares a futuristic car (a concept car) from thirty or even twenty years ago with what one is driving today, the older designs are still fresher and more advanced-looking in many large ways. Furthermore even a good number of production cars from the middle-distance past can Continue reading “The Final Wounds Hurt Not At All”
Very recently this author was immersed for three days in the world of the aesthetics of design. Dieter Rams’ name came up.
Deiter Rams worked as Braun’s chief designer, having a desk there from 1961 to 1995. It occurred to me that I agree with the whole lot of Rams’ principles which are opposed to zany, aggressive styling and yet I am a known liker of cars such as the Nissan Juke and Toyota CH-R.
People will also know of other zany and aggresssive designs which offend to a degree and I don’t dislike all of them. I have come to accept some zaniness is quite okay (maybe it’s resignation). Is there any way I can Continue reading “The Last Letters Of Carpenter”
Or to put it another way, a week with an Aygo. How did we get on?
It began with a bump. Somebody reversed into the Jag, while it was innocently minding its own business. The damage while not great, will likely be expensive, given the manner in which cars such as the XF are constructed these days. Still, with the guilty party’s insurers footing the bill, such matters are perhaps somewhat academic. The upshot being that while the Jaguar is in for a course of rhinoplasty, we’ve been slumming it in a courtesy car.
I must dutifully point out that Toyota’s smallest offering is not exactly a stranger to DTW’s pages, our resident Mr. Herriott having already written at some length upon his experience with a conventional manual version, but the example we are considering today has been fitted with Toyota’s X-Shift automated manual transmission.
More contraction. This time it’s Toyota’s unloved and unwanted Avensis. But will its putative replacement fare any better?
Let us not feign shock, or indeed much by way of regret, after all it was signposted as far back as 2015 when DTW reported upon its likelihood, but this week Toyota made it official, announcing the cessation of Avensis production at their UK plant in Derbyshire. Their underwhelming Europe-only D-sector saloon has been in decline for some years now (with pan-European sales slumping to 25,319 last year*), and with the Derbyshire plant now only fulfilling existing orders, the end is only weeks away.
Similarly telegraphed is that it is to be replaced by the larger Camry model, the first breathless sight European customers will get of the storied nameplate in well over a decade. The Camry was withdrawn from sale in 2004, Toyota Continue reading “Setting Son”
Seeing one of these is something of an event so I went to town with the photography. This is very probably the same one I saw last time, in another part of town.
As well as its brief life, the iQ is famous for being a latter day Cadillac Cimarron. Aston Martin smothered iQs in leather and sold them as posh city runabouts. Aston Martin understandably don’t want to disown their heritage, yes. When you read this kind of text you feel they might have overdone it though: “Cygnet was conceived, designed and built as a true Aston Martin. Including the many synonymous design cues featured across our model range including authentic zinc side-strakes, distinctive bonnet meshes, iconic grille and the legendary badge”.
Sometimes you have to go in search of news. It won’t come looking for you. Read on to learn which of their cars Ford UK considers “large”.
Let’s get going! Honda UK announced that the four-door Civic is going to be sold in the UK and that it is made in Turkey. Eager customers must wait until August to get their hands on their own example. A single petrol version with 1.0 litre i-VTEC will vie with the 1.6 litre diesel for sales. The gear ratio race is now up to nine cogs at Honda and you can have such a set-up in either manual or CVT automatic form.
Because the saloon is wider, longer and lower it can take up the demand unsatisfied by the gaping Accord-shaped hole in Honda’s line-up. The payoff is a lot of room inside: “class leading,” claim Honda modestly.
Dark blue really flattens a car’s form. In all but the best light the shapes are concealed. Let us try and look past that colour.
Rather annoyingly I saw the same model in more photogenic metallic light grey yesterday while on the move. I couldn’t get a snap. We will have to make do with this image.
For a car sold in so many countries and in such large volumes, the limited engine choice is a puzzle. You could only get these with a 2.2 litre four or a V6 of 3.0 litres capacity. I’d expect another two engines for this, or even three: a 2.0, a 2.5 and a diesel of some sort. Continue reading “Despair And Joy Dance Their Pavane”
We have a bit of crystal ball gazing from the chief designer of Toyota, reported in Automotive News. The mainstream car will go extinct. Not that surprising, really. But why do we have a Ford Taunus as the main image?
Starting with the idea that a large proportion of the cars made in the future will be externally controlled (“self-driving”), people’s relationship to cars will change. Simon Humphries’ vision is that most cars will be anonymous containers on wheels and a small remainder will be highly specialised luxury or performance items. He imagines “pure race cars” can be created.
There’s little doubt. Toyota have a hit on their hands in the C-HR crossover. But what are the implications for its more reserved hatch sibling?
As even the dogs in the street know by now, the way of the Crossover is the path the European industry is hell-bent on pursuing. Decry it all we wish, the buying public appear to prefer the cut of its jib, its loftier driving position, its faint (if somewhat fraudulent) air of go-anywhere capability.
The automotive equivalent perhaps of a pair of Sketchers* trekking shoes, the marketing message exudes that ‘I’ve just emerged from my mindfulness class and now I’ll probably Continue reading “Doubt and Disbelief”
Goodness: 1987. David Bowie released Never Let Me Down that year and Toyota this E90 Corolla…
Both album and car deserve re-appraisal. Stylistically the Corolla has faired better than Bowie’s album, which is faint praise. While you need to listen past the overproduction to hear some good songs on NLMD**, you only need to look with your naked eyes to see that Toyota’s stylists produced a very consistent design with this iteration. Should you wish to Continue reading “Micropost: Emerald Was The Light In Her Heart”
Up until these monsters remained a minority interest, I didn’t really mind them. And they came in vibrant colours too.
The two-tone paint humanises what you could call, after all, a gas-guzzling leviathan. It’s the kind of thing which ought not to be let out of fields or to leave private green lanes. But it’s hard to dislike this car, isn’t it? I always felt that Toyota Landcruisers were for people serious about off-roading – it’s these UN use and not LR’s dodgy toys.
Here this one stands, shiny and clean and entirely unmarked, on my street. I am happy to
From time to time, I receive the occasional photo from the wild of some interesting automotive oddity from friends and family. Today’s subject however, I’m forced to admit, had me stumped.
Now, I consider myself to be reasonably authoritative on matters automotive, at least when it comes to the European industry anyway. Admittedly any putative knowledge tends to evaporate once we metaphorically cross the Atlantic but I have rarely if ever failed to correctly identify anything flung my way – until now. Even I had to admit defeat on this one.
What we are looking at is better known as a WiLL Cypha. I expect that unlike me, you (our informed and highly knowledgeable DTW readers) know your Japanese oddities and are incredulously shaking your heads at my ignorance, but for those who Continue reading “Ridicule is Nothing to be Scared Of”
Today I’ll ask why the 164 is ace and why the 2017 Mazda Vision Coupe is like a naked lady.
An article and a comment by our colleagues on the Alfa Romeo 164 constitute the launch position of this particular rocket aimed into Inquiry Space. The article can be found here for your review but I will cite part of S.V.Robinson’s follow-up comment as it suggests the direction of this piece today: “I remember one commentator stating that the 164’s styling had that same balance and immediate sense of effortlessness as the Supermarine Spitfire and, oddly, it stayed with me as a very left field but accurate point if view…. I see a beautiful red 164 V6 regularly and it still Continue reading “About Really Nice Cars and Boring Ones Too”
The powertrain of this Toyota sets up the framework for this concept car which has strong points and a major weak point. The fuel-cell arrangement allowed the designers to have another go at re-defining the luxury car: a flat floor, a short nose and a wheel at each corner so lots of room can be crammed inside. From a creative point of view, the freedom from the constraints of the RWD petrol-engined three-box saloon should mean a chance to be a bit daring. On first examination, I want to Continue reading “From Within Outside Turns Upside Down”
The code names HT51S, E-28, W-124, CDW27 and SD-1 surely no longer remain obscure enough to demonstrate proof of your car design knowledge. Add, please, G20, G30 G40, G50 to the list. Toyota’s third Century, G60, arrives soon.
Elsewhere here I have discussed the possibility of technical updates of classic designs where the styling remains much the same even as the engineering gets revised on an evolutionary basis. The Porsche 911, the New Beetle and New Mini approximate to this ideal. Cars like the LR Defender didn’t change enough to count and nor did the long-lived original Mini or Renault 4. For an exemplar of gradual, engineering-led evolution, we must turn to the Toyota Century, now only getting to its third incarnation since 1967. Continue reading “Lineaments, Landmarks and Leys”
There’s something rather peculiar about selling the only car of its kind in the whole country and noting it’s a “non-smoker’s car”. Is there really a person who will consider a car like this only if the ashtray has been unused?
There’s only one on sale in Denmark at the moment.
Today we have another chance to document the ordinary but now rare E80 Corolla.
To be precise it’s the EE80 three door hatchback, 1985 to 1987.
We’ve documented the saloon here and I argued that it’s a collection of near-neutralities. The hatch has the same basic simplicity (the surfaces have the least possible curvature) yet there is a hint more expression noticeable. It’s in the rake of Continue reading “Holy Moley Cannoli”
This one is just a single photo. The car drove off before I could get more shots and plus also the driver sat inside and didn’t seem like the kind of person who would appreciate my interest.
I have blurred the driver’s face, just in case. Normally I don’t photograph people in cars or cars if there are people in them.
Now: In 1983 Toyota presented the E80, the fifth generation of their answer to the VW Golf and Ford Escort. That makes it mainstream in the extreme. A look back at the previous four generations of Corollas shows cars that are studiously nothing much to look at. Maybe the second generation (1970-1974) had a touch of the American about it, not unlike the Cortina. Even that faint whiff of personality faded away for version three which managed to Continue reading “Sprint to the Middle, Walk to the Start”
Arguably the Hyundai i30 Fastback’s spiritual ancestor, the 1987 Toyota Corolla Liftback is 30 years old this year.
First published by Eóin Doyle in July 2015.
It might surprise you, but the (AE92-series for Toyota geeks) Corolla, in 1.6 GLi Liftback guise at least, was considered an 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 other quite appealing, slightly upmarket Japanese hatchbacks – Mazda’s 323F and Honda’s 5-door Integra. Continue reading “Rearview Revisited: 1987 Toyota Corolla Liftback”
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.
A justified success in the US market, Lexus however struggled in Europe, where provenance, heritage and snob value mattered at least as much as outright ability and utter reliability. Toyota perhaps in retrospect made an error in clothing the LS400 in such a rationalist manner. While its styling appeared to reference the W126 Mercedes in its lack of expressive flourishes, it left customers with little to Continue reading “Finessing Big Lex”
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.
By the end of the 1960s, it was clear that front wheel drive was no fad. Even GM had started dabbling with it in, of all things, the 7 litre Oldsmobile Toronado. In Japan, Subaru had produced its 1000 in 1966, Honda the N360 in 1967 and Nissan the E10 Cherry in 1970. But Toyota waited. And waited. Finally, in 1978, Toyota revealed its toe-in-the-water exercise in front wheel drive, the Tercel. Naturally they had been biding their time, assessing the various forays into FWD by other manufacturers.
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”