Just take one look at Toyota’s new ultra-luxurious Century SUV and you could be forgiven for thinking that Japan’s No 1 carmaker is trying to compete with Rolls Royce. Because it is.
The all-new Century SUV is marginally smaller than a Rolls Royce Cullinan, employs a 3.5-liter V6 plug-in hybrid engine compared to the Rolls’ 6.7-liter V12, offers almost identical levels of luxury and plushness, but will land in showrooms for less than half the Cullinan’s price. That’s right, the Century SUV will retail at around 25 million yen, or around $170,000 at today’s exchange rate, in contrast to the Cullinan’s starting price of around $390,000.
Now although Toyota will never say that their new super luxurious SUV is a direct Cullinan competitor, the Japanese brand will, for the first time, be marketing the luxury crossover outside of Japan. So, in the real world, the Century SUV will compete with the Cullinan in certain markets including the Middle East.
Aesthetic impressions are subjective of course, but dare we say it—we feel that the Century SUV is as well-proportioned as the Cullinan but its front end is sharper, better looking and less ostentatious. This is definitely a step in the right direction because the Century sedan, throughout its 55 year history and three generations, has changed very little in the design department—continuing to look very much like a Japanese version of a Russian Zil limousine.
So hang on, what is the Century all about? Japan’s ultimate limousine started life as a purely domestically-sold sedan in 1967, and as a result, it is barely known outside of Japan. The new Century SUV model that joined the lineup in autumn 2023, will, according to Toyota, be simply called the “Century” where as the established four-door model will take on the moniker of “Century Sedan.” That, we feel, could be confusing for the market, because most international and domestic media who covered the launch, seem hellbent on calling the new model ‘Century SUV.’