By on October 6, 2017

2018-toyota-century

Earlier this year, Rare Rides memorialized the end of the long-lived V-12 Toyota Century. At that time there was no word on a new Century replacement, so Toyota was left with a Lexus vehicle as flagship — the quite flashy LS600hL.

However, the flagship title changed hands yesterday after a new Century dawned.

Image: 2018 Toyota Century, image via ToyotaThe conservative and exceedingly formal sedan presented here will debut at the end of October at the Tokyo Motor Show. With this new model, the Century enters its third generation — impressive, considering the first one debuted back in 1967.

Image: 2018 Toyota Century, image via ToyotaLines are decidedly more modern and flashy than with the prior design, which was in production from 1997 through part of 2016. The rear doors are longer, to assist the most dignified of customers in alighting from the vehicle gracefully. A raised roof allows passengers to keep the crown jewels atop their heads during a trip. Still, noticeably absent from this new model is some of the quiet understatement of its predecessor. It’s more in your face, and from this angle bears a much closer resemblance to the Rolls-Royce Phantom.

It’s doubtful the resemblance was accidental.

Image: 2018 Toyota Century, image via ToyotaThe rear end treatment pays homage to the last generation Century, albeit in a much more heavy-handed manner. The blocky shapes and black trim between large red lamps almost puts one in mind of an old American car like a Grand Marquis. The vehicle is now larger than before, increasing in length from 207 inches to 210. It’s also two inches wider, and about an inch taller than before. But the exterior isn’t the only new feature of this new Century.

Image: 2018 Toyota Century, image via ToyotaThe interior is completely new for 2018. Considerably more modern than the last generation, curved shapes across the dash replace the upright angles of the past, and everything is LED. There are two different types of wood present, seemingly some gloss veneer from an early 2000s Lexus, as well as darker and more natural wood from today’s Volvo collection. I’m not sure.

Image: 2018 Toyota Century, image via ToyotaRear passengers relax in comfort and luxury, as would be expected. The bench seat is no more. Two executive chairs now occupy the rear area, separated by a wide console. Note how even the interior door handles receive their own modern design.

Image: 2018 Toyota Century, image via ToyotaUnderneath all this luxury, one will not find the V12 engine that was unique to the Century. Displacement remains at five liters, but now there are only eight cylinders. There’s also a hybrid motor in there — all of this a variation of the UR engine line found in V8 Lexus vehicles since the middle of the 2000s.

Image: 2018 Toyota Century, image via ToyotaNone of these trappings will be available to the American customer, who will have to settle for a machine-built Lexus. Throughout its history, the hand-crafted Century was only available on the Japanese market, with very few exported to other countries. Eager buyers will receive their deliveries sometime in mid-2018, with prices easily topping $100,000.

[Images: Toyota]

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95 Comments on “Introducing a New Flagship Toyota – the 2018 Century...”


  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Good God. I can feel the opulence from here.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s never enough!

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I do love the Japanese aesthetic.

    • 0 avatar
      VW4motion

      Cloth interior on the flagship model?

      • 0 avatar
        spookiness

        Yes. Apparently cloth is preferred because it does not sqeek like leather. The whole reason for this cars being is smoothness, comfort, and quiet. The last models V-12 was engineered for smoothness more than power. The door latches are electrically actuated, and self close, because a mechanical action is considered too obtrusive.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Thanks for the post, I did not know that.

        • 0 avatar
          VW4motion

          Interesting, thanks for the info.

        • 0 avatar
          threeer

          IIRC, way back in the day, luxury cars had cloth in back for passengers and something like leather up front for the poor driver. I guess it had to do with the whole “squeaky, hot/cold” issue with leather, and that it was likely more durable to being exposed to the elements, whereas the cloth was perceived to be more comfortable and not as reactive to cold or hot temps. Can’t have the royalty having their bums sweat on a hot day, don’t ya know?

          So the Century is to uber-luxury as the NSX was to exotics…a reliable Japanese take on the segment. Nice.

      • 0 avatar
        Stanley Steamer

        Actually it is 100% wool, originally only available on the Century Royal.

      • 0 avatar
        Whatnext

        Leather – so overrated.

        • 0 avatar
          Lorenzo

          Leather was chosen for the early open cars because it was cheap and durable. Despite larger herds (of cows at least) and no shortage of leather, it became a luxury item in the public mind. The modern equivalent to leather’s original purpose is vinyl, but you can’t sell ‘rich Corinthian naugahyde’.

          • 0 avatar
            PentastarPride

            I was thinking, “what are they thinking?” considering even economy cars have leather as an option.

            I couldn’t imagine having a car without leather as it can be washed/wiped down versus having to mess around with a carpet/upholstery cleaner to clean cloth seats.

            You don’t have to sweat–thats what AC is for, and cars in this class should have standard ventilated seats (which would annoy me because of all the little holes).

          • 0 avatar
            volvo

            If they have staff to drive, wash, clean the car plus the resources to replace the fabric if is becomes dirty, worn or torn why should any of this concern the owners. Do you think these CEOs and diplomats even open the doors on the car? Do you think they ever dirty their hands on the vehicle?

    • 0 avatar

      This car has the sort of simple elegance of styling that would have given the Lincoln decent sales.

  • avatar
    Car Ramrod

    Now that is an expensive cloth seat.

    If Toyota is presumably going to build the V8 for another 20 years, why can’t we get it in a Lexus LS?

  • avatar
    dal20402

    If you’ve driven a LS600hL, you know that the UR + hybrid combination makes a V12 superfluous. It’s the best possible ICE luxury car powertrain.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    I dig squarish cars, period.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      Cadillac used to “do” squarish cars, but they don’t want your business anymore. If they had something along this line – formal luxury – they’d just be inundated with, you know, older people with money.

  • avatar
    Secret Hi5

    “Century” is so last millennium.

  • avatar
    chuckrs

    Dear Cadillac, Lincoln, Chrysler

    Please study this car. This will almost certainly emerge as the quality benchmark, not the Germans or anyone else. Also, make sure your designers understand people who can afford such a conveyance would appreciate the lack of flame-broiled surfaces, gaping maws of grilles and general weird-ass design features. And look, a greenhouse that doesn’t look like its been squashed.

    • 0 avatar
      SlowMyke

      Yeah, i was just coming to say this is what the Continental should have looked like. But not the interior. That might be a quality interior, but it’s ugly as hell.

      And shockingly, a classy, refrained exterior from Toyota? What is this, 1990?

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      The Century is largely handmade and costs well over $100,000.

      Wrong benchmark, I’d say…now, if you were saying the new LS should be a benchmark, I’d agree.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        Of course, Mike, all they have to do is build a $100,000 car and sell it for $30k. But, then it would still be awful because it has the wrong brand name/country of origin.

        Its the same mentality that says it does not harm its image whatsoever if Mercedes builds garbage trucks, but because American luxury cars had vinyl tops 40 years ago, the cars they build today suck.

        • 0 avatar

          America is the Evil Empire and everything American is bad, according to our coastal elite. Don’t you know that? Of course Toyota Century is the new Standard of The World. You do not need to see it to know that. All luxury cars from now on must be copied from or inspired by Toyota Century.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      There’s a couple of things I disagree with your post. First, Cadillac gets nothing but criticism for it’s Art & Science styling, at least in these parts. And, the other two are right behind with their version of the “sheer” look, something that’s been going on now for five decades…

      However, looking at the Century, I see a car that could have been a 1998 GM B-body, if they hadn’t gone to the “whale” styling in the early 90’s and then dropped the cars entirely. We have different rollover and side impact regs in North America, hence the high side and thick pillars. Imagine any of those three domestic cars with taller greenhouses and thinner pillars, they would look very nice indeed.

      Actually, your admonition to avoid the flame-broiled surfacing should be applied to Lexus, they’ve managed to ruin the one decent looking car they had (the LS) and it now joins the rest of the strange, swoopily styled sedans they offer. The only thing stranger are their SUV/CUVs. I know many people wonder who approved the Aztek, but I really wonder who thought those vehicles’ styling was a good idea.

      Since the vast majority of us in North America will never experience a Toyota Century (nor a ZIL Limousine for that matter), the “quality” aspect is a moot point. Like JohnTaurus noted, the domestics just need to build a $100K car and sell it at $30K just to make these armchair quarterbacks happy.

      Probably not going to happen.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    So you’re saying GM/Buick has allowed their Century trademark to lapse? I’m thinking a lot of people are going to be confused when they see a ‘luxury’ car named Century and it’s not a Buick.

  • avatar
    brakeless

    We should get this in the US rebranded as a Buick.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Forgot to mention in my first comment that I would pay a non-trivial amount of money — but much less than I’m sure it would actually cost — to have my LS460 reupholstered in this type of wool.

  • avatar
    ajla

    WHY DOES THIS HAVE A HYBRID V8 WHEN THE LS GETS A TURBO V6 LIKE A FECKING KIA?

  • avatar
    Acd

    This looks more like a Chinese knock off of a Rolls Royce than something that would come from Toyota.

  • avatar
    Halftruth

    Looks Cressida-ish, only bigger. That front end certainly looks better than the gaping maw/flaring nostril abominations on the road today. Maybe some of these simple and conservative design themes can trickle down to the mainstream. I wouldn’t mind a bit.

  • avatar
    ajla

    And look at all the wood in that interior. That’s more wood than Jaguar offers in all its current vehicles *combined*.

    Why am I not a wealthy Japanese person?

  • avatar
    spookiness

    I love these. I just wish they had some broughamtastic buttons in the seats, like a late 80s Fifth Avenue.

  • avatar
    MrGreenMan

    Bring it to America. That’s what a car is supposed to be.

    • 0 avatar
      spookiness

      It wouldnt sell in the US because few people would pay that much money for tasteful restraint. On the other hand I’d be all into an Americanized version of the old boxy Crown taxicab.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        “It wouldnt sell in the US because few people would pay that much money for tasteful restraint.”

        This isn’t supposed to be a volume model. I think the last gen sold an average of about 50 units a month.

        If it came to the US it would be the car equivalent of the Land Cruiser probably doing about 150 sales a month.

      • 0 avatar
        stuki

        Aside from the somewhat fragile and unforgiving wool interior, which presupposes women who went to finishing school and didn’t fail, I think it would sell OK in the US. It may not be gaudy/flashy/showy per se, but like the old Benz 600, it’s so singularly conceived, designed and built, that it stands miles above the ever more crowded field of look-at-me’s populating the slightly lower rungs of the Pantheon. And everyone, from tappers to tweeters to gold diggers, knows it when they see one.

        De Nysschen should be ashamed of himself, for not even making an effort at building something along the lines of this; just wit a more American twist.

  • avatar
    Sjalabais

    Three seatbelts in the rear means the middle part flips up? I wonder if there is space for three child seats across.

    /blasphemy mode

  • avatar
    whitworth

    I love the exterior styling, shame they don’t export that car in the US. Would love to pick up a used model.

  • avatar
    I_like_stuff

    How does that thing NOT have leather seats?

  • avatar
    volvo

    Car with an interesting history. Marketing literature for the 2nd gen said

    “the Century is acquired through persistent work, the kind that is done in a plain but formal suit.”

    The look of the 3d gen mimics that of the one off 2nd gen Century Royal made only for the Emperor.

    The standard Century mostly acquired by high level government officials and Corporate Executive.

    Part of the purchase contract is that the owner cannot drive the car and the white curtains need to be closed whenever anyone is in the back seats. (S)

  • avatar
    cartunez

    I would purchase this immediately if it were available in this market I love the look

  • avatar
    doublechili

    This Century is to cars as a Grand Seiko is to watches. Unfortunately, unlike a Grand Seiko you can’t just buy one online and have it shipped here.

    BTW, it also has a certain Green Hornet kinda vibe to it.

  • avatar
    DrGastro997

    Another interesting fact about the Century is that nobody can purchase a used one. All Century’s are destroyed after only one owner.

  • avatar
    Thatkat09

    Luxurious Cloth sounds amazing. Why isnt it more common?

    • 0 avatar
      volvo

      My 1955 VW type 1 had great wool upholstery.

    • 0 avatar
      threeer

      Because for some reason we associate “luxury” with dead cow hides and not cloth. Leather has a better PR firm than cloth does, I guess! My wife is solidly in that camp of liking leather, but unless it’s a super-soft and supple variant, I’d just as soon have cloth.

      • 0 avatar
        stuki

        Leather has about one thousand times the abrasion resistance of “Century” wool. And one tenth the friction against wool or other commonly worn cloth. Horse saddles aren’t just made of leather because riders want to look like cowboys, after all. Ditto for motorcycle riding gear and Marlon Brando.

        Leather can also fairly easily be kept clean. And, if of good quality, ages well even if it shows wear. Wool needs to be cared for and taken care of to look dignified.

        Hence is best suited for those with proper manners. Just something as simple as entering and exiting a car when wearing fine clothes, is made much easier because leather has much less friction. Futzing about trying to straighten out a crease or pull, in the part of your your pants or dress you end up sitting on, is hard to pull off in a dignified manner, in a wool, or cloth, seat.

  • avatar
    deanst

    You can tell it’s a luxury car because it has its name stamped in the interior – just like gm did in the 70’s.

    The wool seats may be luxurious, but they still look like terrycloth.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      GM could not build this today or forty years ago.

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        If you mean hand-built, you’re right. If you mean a mass-produced high quality vehicle, you’re still right. GM engineers could design one, but the bean counters would cheapen it into base, custom, concours, and estate versions. The last would be close to what the engineers wanted, but inadequate Chevrolet and Buick parts would be substituted to save money.

  • avatar
    Rocket

    So Toyota can design a tasteful grille? One might even call it elegant. Astonishing!

  • avatar
    raph

    If Lincoln and Rolls Royce had a baby is my initial thought.

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    Note to self: become billionaire, have Toyota make a LHD version just for me.

  • avatar
    JimZ

    No surprise at the comments here, given the unhealthy fetish for the 1950s so many of you have.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Other than maybe the dimensions the Century doesn’t share much with the pastel, chrome, and finned 50s.

    Nah, this is 80s fetish. This Toyota is from the Mulsanne and W126 era.

  • avatar
    nels0300

    It’s interesting that this has been around since 1967 and Toyota has never brought it here.

    Why would this or a variant of this be any more of a stretch for Americans to buy in the 60s vs. the Corona or Toyopet?

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      Toyota didn’t have the credibility back then to try to sell such an expensive car in the US.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      What about the Toyota Crown? Not all Toyotas were Corollas and Hiluxes.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      At least part of it, is cultural. All the big Japanese exporters take listing to their customers, and then catering to them, very seriously. So Toyota would be unlikely to just box the car up and ship it abroad as is. Instead, they would then have to listen to feedback from those overseas customers, or they wouldn’t be doing a good job serving that market. Which, for the Century, would mean giving less than 100% undivided attention to the needs of the Japanese upper crust that the car is designed to serve. And that just wouldn’t be properly respectful to those guys……..

    • 0 avatar
      volvo

      Most likely it was the price point as others have mentioned. Perhaps as a hand built vehicle the limited production was already spoken for similar to the best tea, tuna and sake are. Production numbers I could find ranged from 200-400 examples per year.

      Could be a little of the Japanese sense:

      In contrast to other luxurious cars (such as the Maybach or a Rolls-Royce), the Century has not been positioned and marketed as a sign of wealth or excess. Marketing literature states roughly that, the Century is acquired through persistent work, the kind that is done in a plain but formal suit.

      As I mentioned earlier this was a limited production car. Sold only at a few specific “toyota store” dealerships.

  • avatar
    TheEndlessEnigma

    Bentley called, they are politely asking for their car back.

    This just goes to prove that a Japanese car maker can ape a European design just as well as the Chinese.


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