2018 Toyota Century
Introduced in 1994, the Avalon helped Toyota become a notable force in the full-size segment in the United States. At the same time, the Lexus LS achieved a similar status in the luxury market. However, the Avalon isn’t Toyota’s largest vehicle. While the Japanese-spec Crown is slightly shorter than the Avalon (by some three inches), the second-generation Century trumps even the latest Lexus LS in terms of length at a whopping 207 inches. Or at least it did until it was discontinued in October 2016. But only one year has passed, and Toyota is getting ready to launch the third-generation model at the 2017 Toyota Motor Show.
Longer and wider, the new Century has been redesigned from the ground up. But, interestingly enough, it retained the traditional boxy design of its predecessor, which makes it a classy, old-school limo that reminds of the 1990s. In a good way! Toyota also replaced the old 5.0-liter V-12 with a V-8 and added an electric motor for enhanced fuel economy. As usual, it’s equipped with Toyota’s most luxurious features and technology, but updated to modern standard compared to the 20-year-old second-gen model. Unfortunately, the Century remains a Japan-only model, so don’t get your hopes up seeing it on North American roads. Let’s have a closer look at what we’re missing.
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Toyota is Killing The FJ Cruiser Three Years After It Leaves U.S.
Toyota is ending production of the FJ Cruiser more than a decade after the retro-styled SUV hit U.S. shores. But, if you’re like most, you thought the FJ Cruiser was dead since 2014 when it stopped sitting in Toyota showrooms here in the U.S. However, that’s not the case as the
based SUV has been on-sale in Toyota’s home market of Japan. Toyota isn’t giving the FJ Cruiser a loveless ending, though. The automaker is releasing a special edition of the FJ Cruiser appropriately dubbed the “Final Edition.”
The FJ Cruiser Final Edition is a Japan-only model and comes in a single color option: Beige. The spartan interior also gets the beige treatment with beige center sections on the cloth seats and beige trim on the dashboard. Other changes include 20-inch alloy wheels, black side steps, and that cool JDM mirror on the front fender. Toyota isn’t changing anything with the drivetrain – and why would it? The FJ Cruiser has soldiered on for a decade with that tired 4.0-liter V-6 and five-speed automatic transmission. 4WD is most likely standard, but at the very least, is an option. Of course, the FJ Crusier’s most endearing quality is its ruggedness afforded by its body-on-frame construction, solid rear axle, independent front suspension, and its part-time 4WD system. An honest SUV was hidden under that retro bodywork and awkward interior. It was the FJ’s weirdness that both gained it a loyal following and ultimately brought its demise. Sales exceeding 55,000 in 2006 and 2007 quickly nosedived during the recession of 2008 and never recovered. Toyota only managed to sell 14,718 in 2014, making the bean counters’ decision to axe the SUV within the U.S. an easy one. Compare that to the 4Runner’s U.S. sales in 2014 of nearly 77,000 and its sales in 2016 of 112,000. It’s clear which body-on-frame SUV Toyota customers wanted.
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Frankfurt’s Mystery Electric Supercar Is A Japanese Bird Of Prey
A major auto show like Frankfurt will attract plenty of automakers. From giant firms to aspiring start-ups, Frankfurt will have them all. One company that falls in the ranks of the latter is Aspark, and if you’ve never heard of it, chances are that you’re not alone. Don’t let the anonymity fool you, though, because Aspark is already making big promises with its Frankfurt offering – the Owl.
From what we’ve gathered, Aspark is a start-up Japanese automaker that claims to have been developing an electric supercar for the last three years. Very little in the way of information has come out of the company, but it appears it’s now ready to turn heads in Frankfurt with the Owl. Again, details have been scarce about the supercar, but Aspark hasn’t been bashful with its claims about it, starting with its supposed power figures of around 1,000 horsepower and its ability to accelerate from 0 to 62 mph in under two seconds. As far as bold promises go, Aspark can take solace in the fact that it already has that understanding of the auto industry down pat. But as far as the rest of it is concerned, we’re going to learn more about the Owl electric supercar in Frankfurt and see if it’s as good as Aspark claims it is.
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Honda Has Some Pricey Accessories For The Civic Type R In Japan
Every new car owner is faced with the tempting realization that new cars come with their own perks, including personalizing the car and adding whatever accessories are available. That temptation is even more understandable when the new car is the Honda Civic Type R. That’s probably why everybody is freaking out about these new accessories Honda just released for the Type R. The only caveats are that they’re only available in Japan, and more importantly, they cost more than you expect them to.
To put it in perspective, accessory prices in Japan make the prices at Hamilton Honda seem like bargains by comparison. It’s that incredible. Take for example the three-piece, red accent trim that sits just above the front grille and the headlights. That piece costs $293 based on current conversation rates. That’s actually a decent price if you think about it. But would you pay $1,564 for a carbon rear wing with a crimson polyester weave? How about Crystal Black Pearl or Red mirror covers for $137 a piece? While we’re at it, Type-R-branded floor mats have been priced at $577, close to double the price of what Hamilton Honda is asking for the same item. The prices are incredible, but the circumstances of the Japanese market do dictate that they’re priced as such. It’s a good thing that they do a fantastic job of dressing up the Civic Type R because, with the accessories in place, the hot hatch looks dramatically more potent and menacing.
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2018 Mazda CX-8
In a world where SUVs have pretty much taken over the automotive market, Mazda is actually coming up quite short with its offerings, thanks to its current lineup featuring no more than the CX-3, CX-5, and CX-9. Over in Japan, Mazda’s home market, the offerings are even smaller with just the CX-3 and CX-5 making up the only options available to drive in SUV segment. Well, that latter fact is about to change, as Mazda has now introduced the Mazda CX-8. Essentially a slightly smaller CX-9 (we’re talking about inches here, folks) the CX-8 is designed specifically for the Japanese market, giving it something special from the brand that it helped produce so long ago. It takes on the same styling DNA as it’s taller, foreign sibling, while the power to go is derived from the 2.2-liter Diesel that Mazda has been using since 2012, but upgraded to deliver 140 kW or 187.74 horsepower or about 11 horsepower more than pre-2017 models.
Now, the CX-8 is being billed as an SUV that brings new style and depth to the KODO design language, with new “one of a kind” SUV styling. Well, go ahead and take a deep breath and sit down, because you just been taken for a long, hard ride. Mazda is about as bad as the German three when it comes to tooting its own horn, and the CX-8 is the proof. For the most part, the CX-8 is identical to the CX-9 that we have here in the states. The only real difference is the car’s size, which combines a drop in length of 6.49 inches with a drop in width of 4.76 inches, and a drop in height of just 0.89 inches. But, maybe it isn’t all the same as the CX-9 that you can find here in the States, so let’s take a better look at it to see what all Mazda is working with. Either way, it’s certain to be a plus for the Japanese market – those folks have been needed something larger than that CX-5 for a long time.
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2018 Audi TT Lighting Style Edition
The new-generation Audi A8 is understandably getting all the love today, but it’s far from the only Audi model making the news. Over in Japan, Audi has introduced an exclusive limited-edition version of the TT sports coupe. It’s officially called the TT 1.8 Lighting Style Edition, and it’s making us wonder (yet again) what we did to deserve not getting any of these special editions in the U.S.
The TT Lighting Style Edition features a steady diet of cosmetic upgrades. It has exclusive color offerings, aesthetic upgrades, and packages that come standard on the model. Audi also picked a good variant of the TT – the 1.8 – to dress up in the exclusive garb. The automaker didn’t say how many of the TT Lighting Style Editions it plans to roll out in the Japanese market, but it did say that the car will be priced in the market at 5.29 million yen, or around $46,200 based on current exchange rates. The price tag is surprisingly modest considering that here in the U.S., the 2.0 TT starts at $43,500. Fortunately, this is one of those times where we don’t really miss out on a special edition model since American customers can basically order the same thing. That said, it still would be nice if Audi sent more of its special edition models to the U.S. That way, we wouldn’t have to keep looking to the other side of the world to satisfy our SE fixes.
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Japan Gets a Cooler Version of the Camry, and it’s Even Offered in TRD Form
When Toyota pulled the sheet off of the 2018 Camry at the Detroit Auto Show a few months back, we were quite literally stunned by what sat in front of us. The crappy econobox from the late 80s and early 80s has officially grown up. So much so, in fact, that we even took the time to compare it to the Mercedes E-Class. It actually fared pretty well. But see, here’s the thing. Over in Toyota’s home country of Japan, the Camry has a slightly different face, and even more important than that, it’s going to be offered in TRD and Modellista form too!
As far as the Japanese version of the Camry, there really aren’t too many differences to note. It does have a different fascia with a much larger grille. As such, it gets rectangular fog lights and a sporty lip at the bottom. The headlights are also more toned and feature clear side markers. Around back, it gets a different rear fascia and a different set of tail lights. Whether or not it’s more attractive is a matter of opinion, but one thing that I can say for sure is that I want to know when we’re getting the TRD and Modellista versions here in the U.S. See, the TRD gets a much larger lip, sportier side skirts and a new lip in the rear as well – basically a four-piece lip kit. There’s no word on any performance enhancements, but with the TRD badge being prominently displayed, I certainly hope there are some. As for the Modellista, it gets some healthy doses of chrome and likely offers up more luxurious materials inside.
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2017 Mercedes CLA180 Star Wars Edition
You know a film franchise has become completely larger than life when businesses from unrelated sectors are trying to attach their names on a fan-created celebratory day that itself has taken a life of its own. This is what Star Wars has become and the importance of today, May 4, among the franchise’s legion of fans has spurred companies to celebrate “May the 4th Be With You” on their own terms. Take Mercedes-Benz for example. The German automaker has been involved with the franchise in the past in some capacity, but now it’s taking its involvement to new heights with the introduction of a pair of special edition CLA180 models that celebrate Star Wars Day.
This is not a gimmick, people. These two special edition Mercedes CLA180 models are legitimate, and they’re set to be offered as exclusives in Japan. Yes, Japan’s getting another special edition car. Different issue for a different day though. What’s important is that Japanese customers who are interested in the new special edition CLA180 actually have a choice of getting a car that’s inspired by either Darth Vader or a Stormtrooper. More importantly, both versions come packed with plenty of Star Wars references so no matter what color of the CLA180 is chosen, buyers will get their fill of Star Wars-related features on both models. About the only downside to these SEs is the aforementioned lack of availability in other markets. I don’t know if Mercedes knows this, but Star Wars has one of the biggest fan bases in the world. It would’ve probably been a better idea to offer a Star Wars-inspired SE model in more markets than just Japan.
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2017 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport Heritage Blue Special Edition
Japan is home to one of the biggest auto industries in the world, so it’s understandable why many automakers send special edition models to the Land of the Rising Sun. Recently, General Motors took its turn gifting Japanese customers with a special edition Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport. The Vette is about as exclusive as they come, at least considering where it’s headed. The
run sports car is officially billed as the Grand Sport Admiral Blue Heritage Edition, and like most exclusive cars that come to Japan, it comes with some nifty features that underscore its status as a true special edition.
Needless to say, the Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport Admiral Blue Heritage Edition isn’t going anywhere else in the world. In fact, even Japanese customers will have to fight over the special edition Corvette as reports indicate Chevrolet will only send over five units, each priced at ¥12.8 million. That converts to roughly $115,000 based on current exchange rates. By comparison, the Corvette Grand Sport starts at $66,445 here in the U.S., so Japanese customers will have to fork over nearly double to get their hands on one. Then again, it is an exclusive Corvette Grand Sport with unique details in the exterior and interior. Having a chance to own one means paying a premium for that opportunity.
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Introduced in 2015, the Ferrari 488 GTB replaced the 458 Italia as the company’s entry-level supercar. On top of bringing a revised styling language to the market, the 488 also marks the beginning of new era for Ferrari’s most affordable sports car, with the naturally aspirated 4.5-liter V-12 being replaced by a twin-turbo, 3.9-liter V-8. A convertible Spider version was released at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show, while the 488 GTE and GT3 were launched to enable the nameplate to race in various events and series’ around the world. In late 2016, Ferrari presented the first-ever bespoke supercar based on the 488. It goes by the name J50 and it is based on the Spider model.
Launched during a special celebration at the National Art Center in Tokyo, the J50 commemorates the 50th anniversary of Ferrari in Japan. Created by Ferrari’s Special Projects department and designed by the Ferrari Styling Centre team in Maranello, it also marks the return of the targa body style, paying tribute to popular Ferraris of the 1970s and 1980s. If you’re not familiar with them, check out the Ferrari 308 and 328 GTS, but examples also include more recent cars such as the 348 GTS and F355 GTS.
To be sold in Japan only, the J50 is will be limited to only 10 units and each one will be tailored specifically to the customer’s requirements.
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2017 Toyota 86 Solar Orange Limited
It seems like we’ve been down this road before, doesn’t it? A special edition Toyota 86 that’s exclusive to the Japanese market is nothing new and yet, as often as our friends in Japan get these limited edition 86s, we haven’t had as much luck in that regard. In any event, a new limited-run Toyota 86 is fresh from the oven over there in Japan, and it’s promising, among other things, improved braking, sharper handling, and a special edition paint color. It’s called the Toyota 86 Solar Orange Limited and yes, it’s not coming to the States.
The upgrades themselves didn’t turn the 86 Solar Orange Limited into a full-blown performance car, but in the technical sense, they helped create a better driving experience for those who are willing to spend the money for the car. In a lot of ways, it’s similar to past special edition 86s that have made their way into Japan, including the 86 Yellow Limited and the curiously designed 86 Style CB. The latter is arguably the most unique of the three examples, but the Solar Orange limited is different too in some respects. The Creamsicle paint finish, for example, is exclusive to this edition, as is Toyota’s new High Performance package, which adds a number of functionally useful components that help improve the 86’s overall driving and handling experience.
Toyota didn’t say how many examples of the 86 Solar Orange Limited it plans to build, opting only to say that pricing starts at 3,251,880 yen for the manual transmission model and 3,318,840 yen for the automatic transmission model. Based on current exchange rates, those prices convert to around $29,400 and $30,000, respectively. Interested customers have only between January 31 to March 10, 2017 to place their orders, after which Toyota will likely stop production to retain its overall exclusivity.
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2016 Audi R8 Star of Lucis
The Audi R8 is no stranger to being the subject of a special edition treatment from Audi. The current-generation model alone has received numerous limited-run iterations, including the the R8 V10 Plus “Selection 24h” and the R8 V10 Plus Exclusive Edition that Audi is actually bringing with it to the Los Angeles Auto Show. But, before we got dazzled by the Exclusive Edition and it’s promise to bring laser-light technology to the US market, we need to turn our attention to Japan, where another special edition R8 just broke cover. It’s called the Audi R8 Star of Lucis and it pays homage to the Prince Noctis and the Kingdom of Lucis from the fantasy role-playing game juggernaut, Final Fantasy XV.
You’re probably wondering what Audi, a real life German automaker that we all know and love, has anything to do with the Kingdom of Lucis, a fictional place from Final Fantasy XV. For that we have to go back to July of this year when Sony Pictures released the all-CG rendered Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV movie as a precursor to the launch of the actual Final Fantasy XV game later this month. For those who caught the movie, you might have noticed that a 2017 Audi R8 was in it. Well, that was the R8 Star of Lucis in digital form. This one right here is the R8 Star of Lucis in real life.
To make the car feel more exclusive than it already is, Audi Japan and Final Fantasy developer Square Enix decided to build just one model of the R8 Star of Lucis. Just one. That fact alone makes it a lottery to own. Speaking of which, that’s exactly how the R8 Star of Lucis can be won…and then bought. That’s because a raffle will be held on November 21 wherein Audi and Square Enix will pick one winner, who doesn’t actually win the car, but is only afforded the opportunity to buy it for a price of 50 million yen, or around $470,000.
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