Toyota introduced the chauffeur's-special Century sedan in 1967. The first generation spent 30 years in production, the second generation retired after a comparatively youthful 21 years on the line. The third generation you see above clearly remains a Century, but updates the model with all kinds of technology that didn't exist in the last century - not the time, nor the car. At the same time, the conveyance chosen by the Emperor of Japan and the Imperial House stays true to Japanese traditions of craftsmanship and detailing.
The coach expands a bit for 2018, overall length stretching by three inches to 210 on a wheelbase that's grown 2.5 inches to 121.6, width up two inches and height up 1.1 inch. Legroom increases for back seat passengers — the press release doesn't mention any enhancements to the driver's area, because this car isn't for them — and raising the floor by 0.6 inch makes ingress to the rear compartment easier, because the floor is now level with the scuff plate. A stiffer body rides on a new, electronically-controlled air suspension and specially developed tires to smooth out the ride. Seamless installation of noise proofing and active noise cancellation restrict the hubbub.
Beneath the raised rear fabric-covered ceiling with a manji lattice pattern symbolizing prosperity and longevity, wool cloth covers the seats and wood trim covers everything else. VIPs in the back left seat can get a massage and rest weary legs on the powered leg rest, and he or she will earn automatic rights to the seven-inch touchscreen in the armrest that adjusts the massage function, climate control, stereo, and curtains. Every VIP gets a view of the single 11.6-inch entertainment screen sending 12-channel audio through 20 speakers.
Toyota might have put even more effort into the exterior detailing. An artist spends six weeks making each phoenix emblem in the "infinite loop" grille, the loop motif broken into quadrants that represent "harmony, prosperity, and flourishing prosperity." The curve of the doors is noted by "a surface treatment used in [the] Heian period" on room partitions, the Heian era spanning from 794 to 1185 A.D. A new, lush black dubbed "Kamui" gets six layers of paint, and a seventh layer of clear coat that contains the black paint. After three wet sandings and then buffing, Toyota says the result looks like black lacquer.
The previous 5.0-liter V12 makes way for the 2UR-FSE 5.0-liter V8 from the Lexus LS 600h that departed our market in 2016. The engine produces 375 horsepower 376 pound-feet of torque, an electric motor adds 221 hp for a total of 425 hp, plus another 221 lb-ft. Toyota Safety Sense driving aids like Blind Spot Assist and Parking Support Alert help the driver keep his job. The new Helpnet and D-Call Net features will call emergency services if and when things do go wrong.
Toyota only wants to sell 50 Crowns per month in Japan, at a price of 19,600,000 yen — about $178,000. That compares to 16,640,000 yen for a Mercedes-Benz S 560 long-wheelbase, or about $151,500.