Tokyo Motor Show: 2018 Toyota Century

The Toyota Century is not just an executive sedan, it is a pillar of Japanese tradition. And like most Japanese traditions, it has carried on virtually unchanged for a long, long time. At the Tokyo Motor Show, however, nearly 50 years after its debut in 1967, the Toyota Century has undergone only its second full model change. 

The last time the Century was redesigned was in 1997. It has stayed that way largely because of its place in Japanese society. Back in the day, you couldn’t just waltz into a Toyota dealer and buy a Century, no matter how much money you had. It was sold only to citizens of stature —  government officials, executives, maybe celebrities. It was also a favorite of those who earned their living by, shall we say, non-traditional means.

As such, the 2018 Century retains much of the same design cues. A prominent, upright grille eschews any of the newfangled Toyota prow designs, The grille has a dual structure with a crown pattern applied behind the vertical grid and clearance lamps. Above all, it is instantly recognizable as a Century.

Perhaps the biggest gripe about the new Century is that the V12 sis gone. A new 5.0-liter V8 hybrid takes its place. Though the V8 is already used in top performance Toyotas like the Lexus RC F and LC 500, a hybrid system mated with it is a first.

Overall, the new Century sports a longer wheelbase and increases the length by 2.5 inches to 17.5 feet. It’s also an inch taller, providing more cabin space for the prefectural governor, CEO, or yakuza kingpin riding in the back. The interior is really the most important part of a Century, after all, and so the cabin is trimmed in luxurious wool in an exclusive pattern. Leather is optional, but wool is the preferred choice.

It is of course, even quieter than the outgoing Century, with a stiffer body, new suspension, new engine mounts, specially developed tires, an active noise reduction system. There’s also a new suite of safety sensors like blind spot monitors, rear cross-traffic alerts and collision avoidance electronic nannies. These amenities barely bring it up to spec with modern luxury cars, but that’s the price you pay for not having a redesign since 1997.

Toyota may not have unveiled a new Supra this time, but the Century is the real flagship. Rumor had it that Toyota was going to discontinue the Century after the second generation, but demand from Japan’s elite changed their minds. It’s been quietly carrying out esteemed members of Japanese society for decades, and now it will continue to do so for decades more.

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10 Responses to Tokyo Motor Show: 2018 Toyota Century

  1. Lasse J. Nordvik says:

    Gosh darn,that’s a sweet looking car!

  2. BlitzPig says:

    When a better Rolls Royce is built, Toyota will build it.

  3. Legacy-san says:

    If the appearance isn’t something you find attractive, looking old and conservative, you’re not “the right kind of people” Toyota would like to see as a passenger inside. Go buy a Lexus, if you must, or something bourgeois and trashy from Europe or America. Or, ahem, a Hyundai.

  4. Jim Simspson says:

    Sorry but that is just plain lovely… what a nice nod to the past with a fresh new take on a fantastic car… Nicely done…

  5. LB1 says:

    I wonder if they’ll export it this time.

  6. Ant says:

    Would love to drive one. Lots about it to like, and it’s good to see such a luxurious vehicle lacking that ostentatious feel you get with some other luxury vehicles.

  7. Negishi no Keibajo says:

    When I retire, I want “that guy” holding a sign with my name on it at the airport walk me over to a Century quietly whisk me away into the sunset…

  8. cesariojpn says:

    Wish I could see this at SEMA…….saw a RHD Lexus GX/Toyota Land Cruiser Prado. Maybe a tuner will bring one this year.

  9. Mark Newton-John says:

    Way too much pride to hand over top-level cars to Rolls-Royce or Maybach. Nissan and Mitsubishi gave up, but it would be a blow if Toyota were to drop the Century.

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