Japan's Most Luxurious Car Just Lost Its Amazing V12 Engine


But at least it will get a silly hybrid system.

If you live outside of Japan, chances are you've never heard of the Toyota Century. This is quite a shame, because it's probably one of the most interesting cars Toyota has ever sold. Essentially Japan's answer to the Mercedes S-Class even though it doesn't have a Lexus badge, the Century has always been Toyota's most luxurious car. Amazingly, the Century has been on sale since 1967, but has only had two generations. Toyota has finally revealed the third generation car for the 21st century.

The first generation Century was built from 1967 to 1997, and was sold with a range of V8 engines. In 1997, the Century was replaced with a new model powered by a 5.0-liter V12. That's right, Toyota has been hiding a 305-horsepower, V12 luxury car in its home market of Japan. We couldn't believe that Toyota made a V12 car that no-one has ever heard of in the US, but the Century will lose its V12 engine for 2017. Instead, the 2017 Century will be powered by a 5.0-liter 2UR-FSE V8 mated to a hybrid system. This is the same configuration that was found in the US-market Lexus LS 600h, which we called the most pointless hybrid car of all time.

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Toyota says that it made the change for "outstanding fuel economy." We're sure that the old V12 probably wasn't a fuel sipper, but the hybrid drivetrain that Toyota has chosen isn't exactly frugal. The LS 600h was able to get 23 mpg on the highway, which was exactly the same as the standard LS 460. The LS 600h did have more power than the standard car, but was slower to 60 mph because of the added weight and terrible CVT transmission. We don't believe that putting the engine from an RC-F into a luxury sedan and adding a useless hybrid system is a good way to improve efficiency. Toyota should have just kept the V12 engine that made this car special.

The Century will still be a unique car despite its downgrade in the engine bay. This car still looks like its from 1967 on the outside and is completely modern on the inside. Like most JDM cars, the Century doesn't have leather. Instead the seats are made from 100 percent wool. The rear seats recline, and there's even a footrest on the back of the front passenger seat. Both rear seats boast massage functions while a center screen controls all of the car's functions. The Century will still be extremely quiet thanks to an active noise control system that stops vibration from the engine, and a 20-speaker sound system. Japan's S-Class is still looking like a really nice luxury car.

Like all previous Century models, we don't expect this one to be sold outside of Japan. The outgoing car sold for 12.53 million yen ($111,300), so we expect this new car to be priced similarly when it goes on sale in mid-2018. In 20 years, Toyota only sold 8,700 units of the second generation Century. This unique limo is truly one of Japan's most interesting cars.

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