UMW Toyota Motor’s stand at the motorshow has the theme of ‘Young, Energetic, Fun & Contemporary’ and the vibrant atmosphere certainly reflects it well. At periodic intervals, there are dancers on stage and at one end is a climbing wall where the public can have a go and make like the Eco-Challenge team which was sponsored by the company.
Four imported models are being displayed, one of which is a concept model – the Celica Cruising Deck based on the latest Toyota Celica. To create the Celica Cruising deck, the designers cut away the rear liftback section and put in a flat deck. This area is separated from the front seats by a movable partition which can be configured in two ways. The rear window can be rolled down for storage, creating an extra-long and flat deck which is ideal for surfboards, fishing poles or other long gear. Alternatively, the area can be used to seat passengers by raising part of the deck to form a backrest below the spoiler.
The idea of an open seating area in the back of the car mimics the ‘rumble-seat’ of some American models produced in the 1920s. It was an ingenious method of converting the rear section into a semi-convertible and enjoyed a revival in the 1970s. Some Toyota concept cars have had this idea before and the engineers decided to use it again.
Another interesting design element is the rear tailgate which opens sideways instead of downwards. This makes for easier loading of heavy or large items. If the owner needs to tow a trailer at the back, a tow hitch is also incorporated for the purpose.
For power, the Celica Cruising Deck has one of the new-generation Toyota Z-series engines with a displacement of 1.8 litres. This powerful 4-cylinder DOHC all-aluminium engine – capable of producing 187 bhp at 7600 rpm – has a variable valve timing mechanism (VVTL-i) which was developed by Toyota engineers. VVTL-i combines continuously-variable valve timing with valve lift that adjusts in two stages, depending on engine speed. The result is not only more torque but also a much broader torque band to give strong response at all speeds.
Toyota Motor Corporation has no plans at this time to make the Celica Cruising Deck a production model although positive responses from enthusiasts may persuade the company to consider the idea!
The new generation of car buyers has entirely different tastes and expectations, making it a new challenge for all carmakers. Toyota’s offering to such customers is the bB, a boxy compact model which allows extensive customization to satisfy the requirement for greater individuality.
The name is short for ‘Black Box’ and is meant to convey the concept of ‘unlimited possibilities’; with this car, Toyota has adopted a design which has never been used for any other model. The bB has many options which can be easily installed or attached to the car and these have been specially designed to take full advantage of the wide exterior surface areas and the straight lines of the interior.
The boxy silhouette offers a unique look while giving a large and spacious cabin comparable to larger vehicles. Measuring 3845 mm long and 1690 mm wide, the bB has large and wide doors while interior headroom is more generous as a result of a height of 1640 mm.
The innovative interior features a column-shift and pedal-type parking brake which liberates lots of space for the legs and feet. The simple dashboard has a prominent individualistically-styled round “pressure gauge motif” centre with all elements clustered in the middle section.
Its 1.5-litre engine features VVT-i, Toyota’s own variable valve timing mechanism, for good performance over a broad engine speed range. The all-aluminium engine is among the lightest in its class, weighing just 78 kgs.
Ride comfort is also of a high quality with the subframe-mounted strut front suspension and an Eta beam axle at the rear which is equipped with toe-correcting functions. Optimal geometry ensures outstanding manoeuverability and stability at all speeds.
Opa is the name of one of Toyota’s latest models and the name comes from the Portuguese expression which means ‘surprise’. The 4250 mm long Opa is styled with dynamic dimensional shapes and raised character lines along the sides that give it distinctiveness. A panoramic window arrangement encapsulating the front pillars suggests plenty of interior room, which is indeed the case. A ‘one-piece look’ with solid exterior surfaces adds to the sense of stability.
Various seating arrangements provide plenty of flexibility and even with the rear seats in use, four full golfbags can be carried in the boot area. For maximum cargo capacity, the back seats can be folded into the floor, creating a length of 1700 mm. A Toyota-first is an electric switch for the rear door lock which operates from the outside. This makes opening the door more convenient.
Powering the Opa is a newly-developed 2.0-litre engine which has stratified Direct Fuel Injection and VVT-i to improve combustion and reduce toxic gases in the exhaust fumes. The engine employs a new airflow-independent combustion concept as well as a wide lean-burn strategy for superior fuel efficiency. It produces an impressive 152 bhp of power at 6000 rpm and 200 Nm of torque at 4000 rpm.
The Opa has a choice of two transmissions – the sporty 6-range Steer Shiftmatic System or the advanced Super CVT which is Toyota’s first continuously-variable transmission.
Independent front suspension matched with a torsion beam rear axle gives nimble handling with a comfortable ride. The sharp handling provides higher active safety which is further enhanced by ABS brakes that also have Electronic Brake Force distribution.
An interesting safety feature is found in each door mirror which has a hydrophilic effect that makes the water droplets cling to the surface like a film, minimising degradation of visibility. The mirrors also have a photocatalytic effect that breaks up organic matter to prevent surface dirt from building up.
When the first generation of the Toyota RAV4 was introduced in 1994, it started a new trend for small 4WD sport-utility vehicles (SUVs). It was a smart-looking urban SUV which offered good handling, ride comfort and performance. Now comes the second generation which continues the original concept with ‘Stylish and Rugged’ as the key theme.
The platform is entirely new and as before 3-door (display model) and 5-door versions are available. A new 2.0-litre 4-cylinder DOHC Direct-Injection engine with VVT-i is under the bonnet and offers higher performance levels with its output of 152 bhp at 6000 rpm and 200 Nm of torque at 4000 rpm. Unlike most of its competitors, the RAV4 has full-time 4WD with a standard viscous-coupling limited-slip differential (LSD).
The engineers revised the 4-wheel independent suspension system to complement the more rigid body and create outstanding handling with high-speed stability. At the same time, careful tuning of the dampers has endowed the RAV4 with a more comfortable ride.