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New Toyota Century SUV: sporty GRMN and convertible versions in the offing

Toyota’s iconic Century name enters the luxury SUV market for the first time but it’s not coming to the UK

If you were a Japanese businessman or high-ranking politician over the last few decades, chances are you had a Toyota Century luxury saloon to whisk you around. Now, Toyota has unveiled an SUV to sit alongside the saloon and it looks like there will be a hot GRMN variant and even a drop-top Century cabriolet in the fullness of time.

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Toyota claims the new Century SUV will still offer the “dignity, quietness, and ride comfort befitting a Century.” However, at a global premiere event Toyota announced a GRMN Century on stage and a picture of a cabriolet. Like the regular Century limousine and SUV they won’t be sold in the UK. 

The Century’s reputation for luxury in an elegant three-box limousine bodystyle is well known and it certainly looks like the SUV will continue this trend for opulence in a fresh body style.

Along with the Century SUV’s size, a starting price of 25m yen in Japan (around £135,000) makes it a rival for large luxury SUVs like the Mercedes GLS and BMW X7. The Toyota takes a different approach to luxury than is the norm in this class though, just as the Century limousine did in competition with the Mercedes S-Class and BMW 7 Series.

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Toyota calls the Century SUV a ‘chauffeur car’ but if you do find yourself at the helm there’s a plug-in hybrid 3.5-litre V6 providing “exhilarating acceleration performance” - actual performance figures haven’t been revealed yet. The hybrid 5.0-litre V8 option from the saloon hasn’t been carried over. There’s also four-wheel steering, all-wheel drive and Toyota claims torsional rigidity has been over the saloon - although we’re sure most Century SUV owners will hardly feel these changes from the back seat. 

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Inside, the steering wheel features the Century badge rather than a Toyota one and there’s a large infotainment screen on the dash taken from Lexus, but there are still physical switches and buttons for the climate controls and other core functions.  

The SUV is a four-seater rather than a five-seater like the limousine and Toyota has clearly focused on giving back-seat passengers an easy time when getting in and out. The doors open to an unusually wide 75-degree angle and there’s a generous side step.

The GRMN version we’ve seen uses sliding doors for even easier access and this will be an option on the standard car. To help differentiate it as the sportier model, the GRMN also gets black trim pieces on the exterior, bespoke wheels, red brake calipers and a two-tone paint job with the lower section in black. It’s not known if the GRMN will receive more power than the standard car. A cabriolet Century was also teased during the Century’s unveiling which, unlike the drop-top versions of the Volkswagen T-Roc and Range Rover Evoque SUVs, retains the rear doors.

Once you’re in the back of the Toyota Century SUV you’ll find fully reclinable seats and a bespoke audio system aided by noise-reducing clear laminated glass that separates the cabin side from the cargo area. There are also TV screens for the rear passengers as well as a central fridge.

What do you think of the new Toyota Century? Let us know in the comments below...

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Senior news reporter

A keen petrol-head, Alastair Crooks has a degree in journalism and worked as a car salesman for a variety of manufacturers before joining Auto Express in Spring 2019 as a Content Editor. Now, as our senior news reporter, his daily duties involve tracking down the latest news and writing reviews.

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