What's the news?
The original Toyota Century was launched in 1967, the 100th birthday of company founder Sakichi Toyoda, and since then there has only been two, constantly-updated versions. So the arrival of a new model at this year's Tokyo motor show is something of a moment to celebrate, even if the old model's unique V12 engine has given way to a new V8 hybrid motor.
The Century is Toyota's true flagship model (forget the Lexus LS, that's for the nouveau riche brigade...) and its conservative styling reflects the outlook of many of its customers. Thus, the new Century doesn't stray too far from the styling template of the old versions - big grille, square lights, a bit of Lincoln Continental here, a touch of Rolls-Royce Phantom there.
This time around, the Century is a little taller, a little longer, has more space in the cabin, and has larger, taller rear doors to make getting in and out a little more dignified. While those big-square headlights might look as if they've come off your dada's Cortina, they're actually cutting-edge LED units, while inside the 100 per cent wool seats are said to me more comfortable than sweaty leather on warm Japanese days (you can have leather if you prefer, though).
In the back, the seats recline and massage, there are extending footrests, and an LED screen between the seats so that rear seat passengers have full control of air conditioning, audio, more. Toyota says that the rear is equipped for both business and pleasure with a writing table, reading light, rear seat entertainment system with a large-sized display, and a 20-speaker premium audio system.
Toyota isn't quoting power, acceleration, or emissions figures for the 5.0-litre V8 hybrid as yet (what's the Japanese for 'adequate, sir"?) but it does claim that the hybrid system makes the car much more refined, and that it should have the best fuel consumption in its class. There are active engine mounts (Porsche-style) which are said to make accelerating the Century up to speed a much more relaxing and refined process, while there's also an active noise cancelling system to ensure that the cabin is as quiet as it can possibly be. Even the tyres have been specially developed to make them more hushed than normal rubber.
If you've recently put in an order for them, clearly inferior, Bentley Flying Spur or Rolls-Royce Phantom, we hope you kept the receipt...