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Toyota's new Century flagship loses V12 in favor of hybrid V8

Antti Kautonen

As luxury cars come, the Toyota Century has occupied its own very special niche. There haven't been that many generations of the Century built since the first version was unveiled 50 years ago: The initial car survived with relatively minor changes until 1997, and the second generation was at a glance nearly identical, except for one noteworthy thing — the V12 engine. Unlike the first, V8-engined Centuries, the 1997-2016 car was powered by a five-liter 12-cylinder, which produced 280 horsepower (of course it did). That engine was Toyota's first V12, and it made the Century the sole Japanese V12 production car. And now it is no more, as the new Century for the new century again makes do with a V8 engine, albeit with hybrid tech. The change is in favor of improved fuel consumption.

The new 2018 Century will be formally introduced in the Tokyo Motor Show. And very formal it is, with the lines drawn in conservative fashion, the design treading somewhere near recent Rolls-Royces and classic Lincoln Continentals. You couldn't mistake it for anything else, and the cloth interior in the sumptuously equipped car is worth noting: no noisy leather for the discerning customer. There's plenty of legroom available thanks to the wheelbase of over 10 feet, and audio and air conditioning can be controlled from the rear seat via the prominent touchscreen. The car will be made available to customers in mid-2018; traditionally, Japanese politicians and industry leaders have been seen traveling in a Toyota Century. There is also a custom-made royal edition, which still uses the V12 engine.

One other significant nameplate used by Toyota since forever is the Crown, and it too is reborn for the next decade. The Crown Concept has Toyota combining connected tech with driver involvement, as the carmaker says the Crown has benefitted from Nürburgring testing as well as the implementation of shared traffic information technology it calls ITS Connect.