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Honda Civic Hybrid (3rd gen)

Hybrid or Diesel: Sushi or Snails?

Toyota acknowledges that there are many alternative routes to achieving the ultimate eco-car and it has led the field in pursuing most of them: more efficient petrol engines, cleaner diesels, hybrid systems and fuel cells — all have their own technical and environmental benefits.

Other manufacturers shun this broad-based approach, choosing instead to force customers into an either/or decision between diesel and hybrid power, using confusing messages to weight the argument in their favour.

Consider — because Renault asks us to — the Mégane diesel. Renault claims it is a worthy match for the Toyota Prius, but cheaper. As the Mégane is a smaller car, that should be the case, but let’s look at the facts.

Price and Specification

The entry-level Prius T3 is fitted as standard with automatic transmission, VSC+ advanced stability control system, electric climate control air conditioning, alarm, six-speaker audio system with CD player and electric door mirrors. Its price on-the-road is £17,760.

Specify the nearest equivalent Mégane, the 1.9 dCi 130 Expression, with automatic transmission and it will cost you £16,450, but that is without stability control or climate control. At this point, yes, the Renault is cheaper, albeit not so well specified.


Both the Prius and the Mégane are five-seat, five-door hatchbacks, but the Prius has the longer wheelbase (2,700mm vs 2,625mm), which means more leg room for those on board. There’s more room in the boot, too, with 408 litres in the Prius compared to 330 in the Mégane with the rear seats in place.

Performance and Economy

The Prius is faster from nought to 62mph (10.9 seconds) than both the Mégane dCi 86 (12.7 seconds) and the dCi 106 (11.1 seconds). Official fuel consumption on the combined cycle is 65.7mpg for Prius and 62.8mpg for the Mégane dCi 86.

The Toyota’s advantage is even more marked in urban driving, where pollution and fuel economy are a bigger issue. Around town, official consumption for the Prius is 56.5mpg, compared to 51.4mpg for the Renault, but the Toyota is the master of slow-moving traffic, being able to run on electric motor power alone, with zero emissions and maximum fuel efficiency.

Road Tax and Congestion Charging

Producing 120g/km, the Mégane squeezes into Band B for Vehicle Excise Duty, the same band as the Prius, which emits 104g/km of carbon dioxide. This doesn’t take into account the fact the Toyota gives out none of the particulate emissions produced by diesel engines like the dCi 86.

Prius qualifies for a £10 discount, so only costs the owner £30 for a year’s road tax, compared to £40 for the Mégane. And if you run the cars in central London, the Prius can save you up to £2,000 a year, as it is exempt from the congestion charge.

Still struggling to see why Renault thinks hybrid vehicles are expensive? Maybe a look at servicing costs might strengthen its argument.

Servicing Costs

Contrary to this week’s press release from Renault UK, the hybrid system in the Prius does not require special maintenance. The first scheduled service for a Toyota Prius at a London dealer costs £110 and the second service £180.

A quote from a Renault London dealer for the Mégane dCi 86 works out between £220 and £250 for the first service and between £420 and £450 for the second.

The (Inescapable) Conclusion

The Prius is roomier, quicker, more fuel efficient, cleaner, costs less to service and will probably work out cheaper to own over a three-year period when all the savings and residual values are taken into account.

But Toyota is not saying hybrid is better than diesel, it is just another option. With more than half a million hybrid power vehicles sold worldwide and more new models in the pipeline, it’s a choice more and more motorists are making.

Perhaps the final word should be for diesels, or at least for Toyota diesels. The Toyota D-CAT system, available now on the Verso and RAV4, and from July on the Avensis, not only meets Euro IV standards in terms of nitrogen oxides and particulates emissions, it also conforms to the proposed Euro V standard, even though those levels are not due to be enforced until 2010.

The bottom line: if you want a clean car, choose a diesel or a hybrid. Toyota offers the best of both.


Noisy Neighbours Move in on Ramsay St

Aussie TV soap Neighbours got a high speed visitor this week when top Grand Prix driver, Ralf Schumacher, parked his Toyota F1 racer on the world famous Ramsay Street.

Ralf and his Toyota team mates were in Melbourne preparing for the Australian Grand Prix on Sunday and caught up with the cast on set in the city’s suburbs.

Rumours that Ralf has been offered a cameo role next year were denied by the production staff, but it is no secret that Ralf is used to all the drama of the F1 circus.


Toyota Opens European Production Training Centre in Derbyshire

Toyota has opened its new pan-European Global Production Centre (E-GPC) to provide production and maintenance skills training to the employees of Toyota’s European manufacturing operations.

The E-GPC — the European branch of Toyota’s Global Production Centre in Japan — is located within the grounds of Toyota’s vehicle manufacturing plant in Burnaston, Derbyshire (Toyota Motor Manufacturing UK) — in a purpose-built 8,000m2 training facility. Representing an investment of £11.3 million, the E-GPC employs 18 people including 16 trainers who are responsible for training up to 1,000 Toyota employees each year.

Our objective is that we create a work environment where Toyota’s team members are contributing and learning — because their contributions and their development spur the innovation that makes Toyota a strong company, said Sir Alan Jones, Executive Vice-President, Manufacturing Group, Toyota Motor Europe. And while this training centre will benefit our European team members, ultimately it is our customers who are the true winners, he added.

The E-GPC delivers a range of courses designed to enhance and develop key vehicle production skills and equipment maintenance knowledge to support the Toyota Production System with its emphasis on superior quality. Trainees use specially developed work stations, simulated production environments and the latest maintenance technology to refine their skills.

The courses will also contribute to improved safety — with a focus on enhanced ergonomics — and greater efficiency, as workers’ skills can be further honed to perform tasks within specific timeframes. The result is improved skills and even better quality built in to the production process.

Toyota established its Global Production Centre (GPC) in Toyota City, Japan, in July 2003 to train employees from Japan and its 52 manufacturing sites in 26 countries and locations worldwide (excluding Japan). The objective of the GPC was to create a more uniform training system that could rapidly train mid-level managers. With the steady expansion of Toyota’s manufacturing operations across the globe, the creation of regional training centres is essential to help further disseminate knowledge and best practices to all Toyota team members.

In February 2006, Toyota’s U.S. operations opened the North American branch of the GPC — the North American Production Support Center (NAPSC) — in Kentucky. The Asia-Pacific branch of the GPC will open shortly in Thailand.

The E-GPC is a natural extension of the GPC concept to one of the world’s most important automobile markets. Toyota’s European manufacturing operations currently comprise eight plants in six different countries (U.K. France, Poland, Turkey, Portugal and the Czech Republic).

Toyota achieved its ninth consecutive record year of sales in Europe in 2005, with 964,208 vehicles delivered — a five per cent rise over the previous year. Toyota also produced 638,000 cars, 588,000 engines and almost 337,000 transmissions at its plants in the U.K. France, Turkey, Poland and the Czech Republic.

For 2006, Toyota has set a sales target of exceeding 1 million units for the Toyota brand in Europe, while Lexus brand sales are expected to reach 45,000 units. Operating at record capacity, Toyota expects to produce 806,000 cars, 860,000 engines and 575,000 transmissions at its eight plants in 2006.


Platinum Toyota Appoints Business Sales Consultant

Renrod Ltd (owner of the Platinum group of dealerships) is delighted to announce the appointment of Chris Holmes to the new role of Business Sales Consultant for Platinum Toyota.

Initially based at the Renrod Group’s Platinum Toyota branch in Warminster, Chris was promoted from his position as Sales Executive in January and is now based at the Platinum Motor Park in Trowbridge — the business centre for Platinum’s Trowbridge and Bath Toyota dealerships.

Chris, who comes from Warminster and is aged 43, will be responsible for dealing with local businesses in terms of their Toyota requirements, providing a tailor made service for their specific needs. His role will be multi-faceted and will encompass providing advice regarding any Toyota vehicles and services offered by the group. This will involve liaising with other companies with a view to supplying cars, commercial vehicles, finance packages and aftercare services to suit their individual needs and requirements.

Chris said, I am very much enjoying the opportunity to work with other companies in order to provide vehicles and services to suit their aspirations. Toyota has a large range of vehicles and add-on services and as Platinum has two Toyota dealerships — one in Bath and the business centre in Trowbridge, I am looking forward to working with a range of clients across the region.

Chris continued, I really enjoy meeting people and rapport building and strongly believe that you should treat people like you expect to be treated yourself, and put yourself in their shoes. I am very much looking forward to this forthcoming challenge, taking forward my experience and enjoyment of this side of the motor trade.

Chris has been in the motor trade for 26 years, in which he has always served as a Sales Executive. As a result he has considerable skills and experience, which the company is pleased to recognize. Chris has spent his career working for local motor dealers and joined Renrod Ltd in 2001 as a Sales Executive for Platinum Toyota before being promoted to Senior Sales Executive in 2004.

He was promoted to his new role of Business Sales Consultant for Platinum Toyota in January of this year.

Ron Smith, Sales Manager for Platinum Toyota, Chris is the ideal person for the job based on his experience in the motor industry both on the retail and commercial side. Toyota is extremely dependable and reliable and is excellent value for money — just like Chris! We are delighted to have appointed him to this new position.

If you would like to speak to Chris about your business’s needs, you can contact Chris on (01225) 759550 or you can email


Toyota Unveils its New Sporting Heroes at Geneva Show debut for Yaris, Aygo and RAV4 concepts

Key Points

Toyota presents three new sports-themed show cars at Geneva

Yaris T Sport concept with new 1.8-litre engine

Aygo for Sports open-top two-seater

RAV4 Sports with performance-tuned D-4D 180 engine

Sports-themed concepts of three of the newest models in the Toyota range are making their world debut under the spotlights at the Geneva Motor Show this week. The wraps are coming off special versions of Aygo, Yaris and the RAV4 to reveal eye-popping styling, performance tweaks and a bold approach to putting the fun back into driving.

Aygo for Sports and the RAV4 Sports, based on the production T180 model, are both displayed as one-off show cars, demonstrating the inspired design and engineering talent at work within Toyota.

The Yaris T Sport, although a concept prepared for the Geneva show, paves the way for a sporting version of the all-new model that will be launched in 2007.

Yaris T Sport Concept

Concept leading the way for production Yaris sports model in 2007

New 1.8-litre petrol engine

Extensive sports body styling features

17-inch alloy wheels

The Yaris T Sport is a design exercise that points towards a production sporting Yaris that is scheduled to arrive in showrooms during 2007, powered by a new 1.8-litre petrol engine.

The key reference point for Toyota’s development team was to create a refined sports hatch, compact in size with fun-to-drive qualities to appeal to younger buyers, but also with high equipment levels and comfort appropriate for both day-to-day driving and longer trips.

The sports styling is bold, with a black mesh grille at the front that adds emphasis to the deep bumper with integrated fog lights. There is a redesigned bumper at the rear, too, plus deep side skirts and a tail spoiler.

The T Sport is fitted with 17-inch wheels for sharper ride and handling, while new-look tail lights, a chromed exhaust pipe and a T Sport badge on the front grille add the finishing sports touches. The concept car is finished in a dedicated body colour, Storm Grey.

Aygo for Sports

Open-top Aygo for Sports designed for fun and freedom

Two-seater with twin arched rails, but no roof

Radical use of interior trim materials, including teak and Neoprene

17-inch wheels and LED light clusters

Aygo has brought a welcome breath of fresh air to the city car market. Now the wild Aygo for Sports concept version, created specially for Geneva, shows how those on board can enjoy a blast of healthy ozone and blaze a trail to the beach.

Off comes the roof and out come the rear seats to create an open-top machine that’s focused on fun. In place of the roof, Aygo for Sports has a pair of elegant but strong side hoops that curve over the car like a twin tribute to the new Wembley Arch. Massive 17-inch rims shod with 205/45 R17 tyres and LED light clusters add to the look-at-me styling, together with a special bright Ocean Blue paint finish.

Inside, the sculpted seats are finished in light blue Neoprene with beige leather inserts, with matching Neoprene detailing on the steering wheel. And to emphasise this Aygo’s beach party credentials, the floor is covered in teak in the best tradition of classic speedboats.

RAV4 Sports

High-performance sports conversion

Based on flagship RAV4 T180 with D-4D 180 engine tuned to deliver 201bhp (204 DIN hp) and 450Nm of torque

Aerodynamic body kit

Lowered suspension and larger brakes

There is no mistaking the intention of the RAV4 Sports concept, with a beefed-up exterior that includes new bumpers, grille and integrated front fog lights. At the front there is large intake set in above the front protection plate, with a matching plate at the back housing the neatly faired-in exhaust.

To the side there are deep side skirts for enhanced aerodynamic performance and the 21-inch alloy wheels fill the wheel arches to the limit, fitted with 255/35 R21 tyres front and rear.

The 175bhp (177 DIN hp) 2.2-litre D-4D 180 common rail diesel engine, which in standard form is already the most powerful engine in its class, is specially tuned for the RAV4 Sports to deliver 201bhp (204 DIN hp) and 450 Nm of torque.

To meet the demands of the uprated engine, air cooling capacity is increased with a larger front grille and additional air intakes in the bonnet. Braking performance is also greater, with perforated discs with six-piston callipers at the front and four-piston callipers at the rear. The suspension is stiffer and lower compared to the regular T180, with reinforced shock absorbers to ensure the Sports can take the rough as well as the smooth.

Dark tinted glass ensures privacy for those on board, while the Liquid Metal exterior colour has been created exclusively for the model.


New Paint- Priming Agent Reduces Substances of Environmental Concern

Toyota has jointly developed with Nihon Parkerizing Co. Ltd (Parkerizing) the world’s first* pre-paint vehicle surface treatment agent that results in significant reductions in both landfill waste and harmful by-product metals, while allowing proper corrosion resistance.

Before vehicle bodies are painted, they are first primed to prevent corrosion and ensure paint adhesion. Conventionally, manufacturers use a surface treatment agent containing zinc phosphate, which generates an iron phosphate sludge that is disposed of in landfills. Zinc phosphate also contains phosphorus, nickel and manganese, which are eventually rinsed off and end up in plant wastewater — resulting in the need for on-site purification.

Sludge disposal and wastewater purification from the use of zinc phosphate treatment agents is a common and major unavoidable problem for automakers. With the goal of reducing substances of environmental concern in all its activities, Toyota has been working with Parkerizing since 2000 to develop a better surface treatment agent.

Conventionally, using zinc phosphate agents has been the only way to achieve a smooth and even coat on materials such as steel, zinc plating and aluminum, which are often used in vehicle body panels. Until now, use of alternative treatment agents has always resulted in insufficient corrosion resistance.

Based on a revolutionary technology that does not use zinc phosphate, the new treatment agent developed by Toyota and Parkerizing uses zirconium compounds and special organic substances, which generate less sludge and are less harmful to the environment. During development, the new agent was tested on dozens of raw materials achieving the same level of corrosion resistance as traditional zinc phosphate agents.

In addition to corrosion resistance, the new surface treatment agent also possesses the same levels of performance or higher in terms of paint adhesion, durability and finish, and it has the potential to become the standard surface treatment agent in the near future, replacing those using zinc phosphate.

In early January 2006, Toyota introduced this new surface treatment agent into a body-component painting line at its Takaoka Plant in Japan. Introduction at other Toyota plants around the world will be considered and announced separately.

*According to a Toyota survey, as of December 2005


His Royal Highness the Duke of York to Publicly Launch Toyota’s £500,000 Charity Fundraising Challenge during Visit to Burnaston Plant

His Royal Highness The Duke of York will publicly launch Toyota’s £500,000 fundraising challenge for the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) during a visit to the Burnaston Plant, Derbyshire on Thursday 16 February.

The Duke of York, Patron of the NSPCC’s FULL STOP Campaign, is visiting the plant in his capacity as UK Special Representative for International Trade and Investment to see at first hand the latest developments following a £50 million capacity-expanding investment programme.

Toyota has pledged to raise £500,000 for the NSPCC by the end of 2006. The money raised by employee and company fundraising activity throughout the year will be used to support NSPCC projects in Derbyshire and North Wales where Toyota’s UK plants are based.

During his visit The Duke of York will meet representatives of the employees ‘Member Fundraising Committee’ and reveal the fundraising challenge ‘totaliser’ in front of a gathered audience from across the company.

The Duke, who will be accompanied on the visit by The Lord Lieutenant of Derbyshire John Bather, will then tour weld and assembly facilities where he will meet employees and see the state-of-the-art production technology installed to boost annual production capacity to 285,000 Avensis and Corolla models per year.

In this role as UK Special Representative for International Trade and Investment, The Duke undertakes a wide range of official activities, including encouraging British companies to become involved in international trade, selling British goods and services overseas, and the attraction and retention of inward investment to protect British jobs.

In 2005 Toyota was awarded its second Queen’s Award for Enterprise in the category of International Trade. The award recognises the company’s outstanding contribution to British exports between 2002 and 2004. During those fiscal years, the company almost doubled its overseas export value to around £2 billion by adding new markets, such as Japan, and increasing sales in developing markets such as Eastern Europe and Russia.


The New Rav4: Excellence All Round

The Toyota RAV4 was the inspiration for a new market segment for compact SUVs when it was launched in 1994 and has since proved an enduring success, with in excess of 1.8 million sales worldwide. More than 655,000 of these have been in Europe, where RAV4 has consistently been the best-selling 4×4 passenger vehicle.

The all-new, third generation model sets new benchmarks in its segment with premium levels of driving performance, quality, comfort and equipment.

New diesel engines that are cleaner, more powerful and more fuel efficient; new suspension for improved ride and handling; more advanced safety systems for occupant and pedestrian protection; a new, more versatile interior design; and fresh exterior styling combine to reinforce the RAV4’s reputation for all-round excellence.

Designs on Success

All-new RAV4, third generation of the world’s most successful compact SUV

Rugged and modern five-door body

Longer and wider than previous model, but easier to manoeuvre

Significant increase in interior space, including 47 per cent more luggage room

Toyota Easy Flat folding rear seat system

The RAV4 has been totally redesigned and is longer and wider than before, providing more cabin space for passengers and a 47 per cent larger load area.

The interior is more flexible, too, with the adoption of Toyota’s Easy Flat system, which allows the rear seats (split 60:40) to be folded flat into the vehicle floor. A single lever action is all that’s needed to do the job — headrests and the seat cushions can be left in place. Handy storage spaces have been created throughout the vehicle, including a generously-sized underfloor compartment in the boot.

New Era Engines

Three engines — revised 2.0-litre VVT-i petrol and new-to-the-range 2.2-litre D-4D 140 and 180 diesels

175bhp (177 DIN hp) 2.2-litre D-4D 180 engine exclusive to flagship T180 model

Two of Toyota’s new generation 2.2-litre D-4D common rail diesel engines are offered in the RAV4 for the first time.

The D-4D 180, with 175bhp (177 DIN hp) and nought to 62mph acceleration in 9.3 seconds, is the most powerful engine in its class, yet will return 40.4mpg in combined cycle driving. Notably fuel economy and emissions levels are better than for the previous generation RAV4’s 2.0-litre D-4D engine.

The D-4D 180 is available exclusively in the new RAV4 flagship model, the T180. The volume diesel power unit is the D-4D 140, delivering 134bhp (136 DIN hp), nought to 62mph in 10.5 seconds and 42.8mpg (combined).

Both engines have lightweight all-aluminium construction and benefit from engineering advances to achieve new low levels of noise and vibration. Low compression ratios and, in the D-4D 180, the use of piezoelectric fuel injectors, contribute to the excellent economy and low exhaust emissions. Toyota D-CAT (Diesel — Clean Advanced Technology) applied to the D-4D 180, including the unique DPNR four-way catalyst system, gives the engine world-leading combined nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter (PM) emissions.

The new RAV4 is also available with an improved 2.0-litre VVT-i petrol engine, revised to give 150bhp (152 DIN hp), nought to 62mph in 10.6 seconds (12 seconds automatic) and 32.8mpg in combined cycle driving (31.4 automatic).

Diesel models are equipped with Toyota’s latest six-speed manual gearbox, a compact and lightweight unit designed for smooth and precise gear shifts. Petrol models offer the choice of five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmissions.

Advances in Safety

Ultra-tough in-house crash testing

Nine airbags, including first-in-class driver’s knee airbag, standard on all models

The new RAV4 has been designed from the outset to achieve the highest, five-star ranking for occupant protection in Euro NCAP testing. More than that, it has also been subjected to Toyota’s more stringent in-house simulations, which analyse crash performance at higher speeds.

The RAV4 has a new, impact-absorbing chassis, designed to minimise the degree of deformation in the event of an accident, by absorbing impact forces and channelling them away from the cabin.

The design also takes into account the risk to pedestrians, with energy absorbing elements and crumple zones around the front end of the vehicle, repositioning of the radiator and bonnet catch, and detail changes to the headlight brackets and wiper units.

Inside the vehicle, nine airbags are provided as standard, including a first-in-class driver’s knee airbag, and a dual warning system with light and buzzer ensures both driver and front passenger buckle-up. The front seats feature the latest Whiplash Injury Lessening (WIL) design for improved support in a rear impact.

Handling the Rough and the Smooth

Active Torque Control 4WD system automatically transfers torque between front and rear wheels for optimum performance in all conditions

First-in-segment Integrated Active Drive System (XT4 grade and higher)

Hill-start Assist Control (HAC) standard on XT4 grade and higher, plus Downhill Assist Control (DAC) on models with automatic transmission

One of the key elements in the ground-breaking appeal of the original RAV4 was its excellent on-road performance, with handling more like a sporting hatchback than a conventional 4×4. Through the years this quality has been continually refined and in the new generation RAV4 reaches a new level with the introduction of Active Torque Control four-wheel drive.

This system continuously monitors and controls the transfer of torque between the front and rear wheels to achieve the optimum grip and handling. The ratio can range from full front-wheel drive to a 55:45 front-to-rear balance. Instead of a centre differential, the system uses a network of electronic sensors monitoring performance data, including steering angle, vehicle speed, engine torque and throttle angle.

The RAV4 is also the first vehicle in its segment to offer Integrated Active Drive. This combines and coordinates the Active Torque Control 4WD, the Vehicle Stability Control Plus (VSC+) and Electric Power Steering (EPS) to help bring the vehicle under control if the onset of a skid or slide is detected. This provides much smoother and more effective intervention to help the driver keep control than in vehicles where the functions operate independently of each other.

Further aids newly available for safe progress include Hill-start Assist Control (HAC) and, on models with automatic transmission, Downhill Assist Control (DAC), which automatically applies braking pressure on steep descents without the wheels locking.

The RAV4 benefits from new suspension designs with MacPherson struts at the front and double wishbones at the rear. The new rear system features diagonally-mounted shock absorbers beneath the boot floor, causing less intrusion in the load space.

Equipped to Please

Four trim levels — XT3, XT4, XT5 and T180

Alloy wheels, air conditioning, sound system with CD player and MP3/WMA compatibility, Easy Flat folding rear seat system and remote central double locking and alarm standard on all models

Flagship T180 equipped with run-flat tyres and tyre pressure warning system

The RAV4 is available in four grades: XT3, XT4, XT5 and T180. All models feature driver and front passenger front and side airbags, curtain airbags and driver’s knee airbag, ABS with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) and ISOFIX rear child seat mounts. XT4 grade models and higher additionally feature Integrated Active Drive System, Traction Control (TRC), Vehicle Stability Control Plus (VSC+), Hill-start Assist Control (HAC) and, on automatics, Downhill Assist Control (DAC).

The XT3 grade includes manual air conditioning, Toyota Easy Flat folding rear seats, slide and recline rear seat adjustment, Electric Power Steering, sound system with CD player and MP3/WMA compatibility, remote central double locking and alarm, Optitron instrumentation, colour keyed electric heated door mirrors, 17-inch alloy wheels with tailgate mounted hard cover for the spare, roof rails, body coloured bumpers, electric windows, driver’s seat height adjustment and tilt and telescopic adjustment for the steering wheel.

The XT4 specification includes an electric tilt/slide sunroof, dual zone climate control, front fog lamps, retractable mirrors, glove box cooler, leather upholstery and remote audio controls on the steering wheel.

XT5 versions come with full map satellite navigation, Bluetooth connectivity, keyless Smart Entry and Smart Start system, rain-sensing wipers, dusk-sensing headlamps, cruise control, heated front seats and electric multi-adjustment for the driver’s seat.

The T180 rides on 18-inch alloys with run-flat tyres, so dispenses with the rear-mounted spare wheel. It also features a chrome finish to the front grille, wheel arch extensions, darkened rear privacy glass and smoked glass headlamps.

Prices and Insurance

On sale in the UK from 6 February

On-the-road prices from £18,995 (XT3 2.0 VVT-i)

Honda hybrid Civic

In spite of its big advances in performance and specifications, new RAV4 is priced only slightly higher model for model than the previous generation vehicle. Insurance groups are unchanged from the previous RAV4 despite performance improvements.


Innovation and Design Set the Tone for New Toyota Models at Geneva

o Urban Cruiser, bold concept for a mini SUV by Toyota ED2

o Yaris T Sport, a new sports concept

o Fine-T and i-swing, Toyota’s latest mobility concepts

Urban Cruiser, bold new concept for a mini SUV

The Urban Cruiser is a design exercise by ED2, Toyota’s European design studio, for a futuristic mini SUV.

This concept car draws heavily on Toyota’s heritage in Sports Utility Vehicles but also adds its own dynamic flair and rugged originality. The Urban Cruiser also features a fresh interior style inspired by trendy furniture.

Yaris T Sport

Just a few weeks after the European launch of the new Toyota Yaris range, Toyota will unveil a high performance concept of its best selling model at the Geneva motor show.

The T Sport is powered by a 1.8-litre engine, the biggest ever to be installed on this model. New bumpers, radiator grille, alloy wheels and modified suspension convey a more aggressive look, adding to the essence of this sports concept.

Rethinking the automobile: Fine-T and i-swing

Two advanced concepts offer glimpses of the future and reveal how Toyota can minimise environmental impact while providing transport solutions.

The Fine-T is the next step in fuel-cell hybrid vehicles and offers the cabin space of an Avensis within the approximate exterior dimensions of a Yaris. An independent four-wheel large-angle steering system confers an extremely tight turning radius, impossible to achieve with any conventional car.

The i-swing is a new evolution in personal mobility, offering a more direct form of human-machine interaction by adopting the latest technologies in IT robotics.


Increased European Engineering Input at Toyota

Key Points

Inauguration of expanded Brussels Technical Centre

Development part of Toyota’s programme of localisation of its European design and engineering operations

Total project investment worth €130 million (approx. £91 million)

Ninth consecutive record year for Toyota sales in Europe

Toyota’s commitment to establishing local facilities for its European design and engineering operations reached a new milestone yesterday with the official inauguration of its expanded Technical Centre in Zaventem, Brussels.

The focus of the centre’s work is the complete development of upper body elements for all future Toyota models in Europe, including body, chassis and electronics design; selection and testing of materials and components; engine evaluation; and tuning of driveability characteristics.

Toyota also produced 638,000 cars, 588,000 engines and almost 337,000 transmissions at its plants in the UK, France, Turkey, Poland and the Czech Republic. 2005 was its ninth consecutive year of record sales in Europe with 964,208 registrations, a rise of 5 per cent on the previous year.

The Technical Centre employs 580 people and represents a total investment of €130 million (approx. £91 million). It is also home to Toyota’s European purchasing and product engineering activities, which will continue to grow in step with the expansion of Toyota’s European manufacturing operations and capacity.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Shinichi Sasaki, President and Chief Executive Officer of Toyota Motor Europe, said: The expansion of our RD operations is crucial to our future growth in Europe, as it will help ensure that our European customers are provided with superior quality vehicles that are specifically tailored to their tastes.

The occasion was also attended by Belgian Prime Minister, Guy Verhofstadt and European Commissioner for Science and Research, Janez Potonik.

Toyota announced an additional €75 million (approx. £52.5 million) investment in its Technical Centre in February 2004, creating around 200 additional engineering jobs. This money was divided between new build (€30 million, approx. £21 million) and the introduction of new test and evaluation facilities (€45 million, approx. £31.5 million).

In 2006, Toyota aims to take its European sales above one million units and to achieve full production capacity of 806,000 cars, 860,000 engines and 575,000 transmissions.


Toyota Honoured for Environmental Vision

What Car? Green Award recognises industry-leading hybrid and diesel technology

Toyota’s pioneering work in developing and implementing environmentally friendly hybrid and diesel technologies has been rewarded with the 2006 Green Award from What Car? magazine.

The award recognises Toyota’s industry leading commitment to building cars that address the need for cleaner and more efficient powertrains, without compromising the standards of performance and practicality expected by today’s motorists.

In the words of What Car. Its clean and green cars are not futuristic concepts with on sale dates somewhere over the horizon. Toyota has a range of environmentally friendly cars in its showrooms today.

The models referred to are the Toyota Prius, the world’s best-selling hybrid power vehicle and the 2005 European Car of the Year, and the Lexus RX 400h, Europe’s first hybrid power SUV.


The Prius is the world’s cleanest family-sized production car, capable of exceptional fuel economy thanks to Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive, a system that combines a petrol engine with a powerful but compact electric motor. In slow moving city traffic, Prius can run on its electric battery alone, producing zero exhaust emissions, while on the open road the petrol engine, supported when required by additional electric motor power, ensures performance to match conventionally-powered cars.

Thanks to the system’s self-recharging capability, Prius does not have a limited range like a fully electric vehicle and does not have to be taken off the road for battery power to be topped up.

A development of Hybrid Synergy Drive also powers the Lexus RX 400h, a luxury 4×4 that achieves both high performance and excellent fuel economy, a combination hitherto unknown in its segment. Equipped with a 3.3-litre petrol V6 engine and front and rear electric motors, the RX 400h can move from rest to 62mph in 7.6 seconds, yet is capable of returning 34.9mpg in combined cycle driving, a figure that’s unmatched by any other premium SUV model. The twin motor arrangement also gives the RX 400h automatic electric four-wheel drive capability in low-grip driving conditions.

Lexus’s hybrid power model range will grow this spring with the launch of the new GS 450h. And looking further to the future, Toyota is well advanced in developing zero-pollution power, having last year become the first manufacturer to achieve vehicle type certification for a vehicle using hydrogen fuel cell technology.


As well as Toyota’s success in developing alternative powertrains, the Green Award also commended its work in producing cleaner engines, notably the development of D-CAT — Diesel Clean Advanced Technology — to produce diesel power units with substantially reduced emissions of harmful gases and particulates.

D-CAT, which includes Toyota’s unique four-way, maintenance-free DPNR catalyst system, features in the 2.2-litre D-4D 180 engine. This unit is already available in the Verso and will soon be launched in the new generation RAV4 and the Avensis range. Not only is this engine the most powerful in its class, it is also highly fuel efficient and produces record low levels of combined nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter (PM) emissions.

Environmental concerns are at the heart of Toyota’s worldwide operations, its corporate approach built on the framework provided by the Toyota Earth Charter of 1992. Following these principles, Toyota continues to make huge investment not only in building cleaner vehicles and engines, but also in establishing production processes and working practices — including co-operation with other businesses and organisations — that have less harmful impact on the world around us.


Verso’s Versatility Nets Top Award for Toyota

What Car? Best Compact MPV title for clever seven-seater

The diverse virtues of the Toyota Verso have been recognised with the Best Compact MPV title in the 2006 What Car? awards. The Verso T3 2.2 D-4D 140 model emerged the winner in a category representing one of the most hard-fought segments of the UK car market.

In honouring the Toyota, What Car? praised the ease with which the Verso’s interior configuration can be changed from seven down to two seats, with no need to remove any of the seats from the vehicle.

Flexibility is the key, and that’s where the Toyota beats its rivals hands (and seats) down, was the judges’ verdict.

With Toyota’s Easy Flat system, all that’s needed is a single, simple lever operation to fold each of the individual rear seats down and create a perfectly flat load floor. It’s such an effective concept, Toyota has included it in its new Yaris and forthcoming RAV4 models, too.

One of the clinching factors in the judges’ decision was the new 2.2-litre D-4D 140 diesel engine, introduced in the Verso last autumn. This refined and supremely efficient, all-aluminium power unit endows the Verso with nought to 62mph acceleration in 9.4 seconds, 44.8mpg combined cycle fuel consumption and 167g/km of carbon dioxide emissions.

What Car? also acknowledged the Verso’s peerless safety standards, with nine airbags as standard and a top five-star occupant protection rating from Euro NCAP; its all-round high quality; the generous T3 specification, including digital climate control, rain-sensing wipers, heated electric door mirrors and cruise control; and its competitive cost of ownership profile, with scheduled full servicing required only every 20,000 miles.

The award-winning Toyota Verso T3 D-4D 140 is the best-selling model in the Verso range, priced at £18,100 on the road. In all, Toyota offers 10 Verso versions, all equipped with seven seats and the Easy Flat folding system, priced from £13,995 on the road.


Toyota F3R Concept: Living Room on Wheels

Toyota has introduced living-room like space and style to the motoring world with its latest concept vehicle, the funky F3R.

The surprising F3R, which makes its debut at the North American International Automobile Show in Detroit today, is a creative, sporty extension of a concept all but forgotten in today’s automotive world — that of the minivan.

The project was a joint undertaking of Calty Design Research Inc. Toyota’s California design studio, and the company’s California-based Advanced Product Strategy group.

Younger people are hanging out in their cars. When they do that, the car becomes an entertainment area. The F3R expands on that concept.

It’s a sophisticated extension of the home, said the car’s designer.

To create that extension, the design team came up with three very modern looking sets of seats. Each is unique, composed of modern, metal-edged bottoms and asymmetrical backs whose symmetry is completed by semi-integrated headrests. They can provide roomy, comfortable seating for eight … passengers.

Up front, the driver’s seat reclines and swivels, and the passenger seat reclines to form a comfortable bench. In the middle, the seats split and fold to form, with the rearmost or third row, an avant-garde sofa built around the sort of conversation area you might find in a designer living room.

This is surrounded by a casual, wrap-around backrest formed by the continuous, flowing curve of the instrument panel, doors and rear seatback panels. These are accented by fibre-optic lighting panels in the seat sides, and in the F3R’s side door, that can be lit to provide illumination during lounge chat sessions.

But there’s more to do here than just chat. That’s because the F3R is equipped with two track-mounted flat-panel video screens. These allow the vehicle’s occupants to enjoy movies or games whenever they want, and to do so in complete comfort, with control supplied by an audio/video/lighting remote unit that docks in the F3R’s dash.

The F3R’s design emphasises environmentally sensitive materials, in keeping with the theme of environmental sensitivity suggested by the Hybrid Synergy Drive badging. These materials include floor panels made from Ecoresin, a specially formulated resin that can be recycled; and a skin-friendly simulated leather seating material called Mythos that, unlike most plastics, does not produce the harmful chemical dioxin when it is burned.

The starting point for the F3R’s exterior shape, meanwhile, featured a van that conveyed maximum volume, with a tall, wedged body shape that incorporated wide, dynamic shoulders, with its sporty 22-inch wheels and wide performance tyres planted at the extreme boundaries of all four corners.

The result is that the F3R looks like a stylish performance vehicle, but with a feeling inside that is very airy and light.

The F3R is a concept vehicle filled not only with intelligent drama, but with exactly the fresh take on three rows of seating, and on the usable space that vans so effectively provide, that Toyota was looking for.

Toyota wanted anything but a minivan. What they got was a sporty new vehicle that defies an easy label; with a dramatic, iconic shape that is as distinctive as that of the Toyota Prius and an interior that is more adaptable and more family friendly than anything previously seen.


Toyota New Year News in Brief

Diesel Aygo Debut

Aygo, the Top Gear car of the year, will now go even further for your money with the launch of a new 1.4-litre diesel engine. The ultra-fuel efficient powerplant can return 68.9mpg in combined cycle driving, giving a potential range of more than 530 miles.

As well as offering savings on fuel bills, the new diesel also boasts exceptionally low carbon dioxide emissions, its rating of 109g/km placing it among the least-polluting production cars available today and in band B for Vehicle Excise Duty. The new diesel models retain the Aygo Group 1E insurance classification.

The new engine is being launched in Aygo+ and Aygo Sport three and five-door models, with on-the-road prices from £8,345. For the New Year, Aygo+ and Aygo Sport are available with the option of Crystal Silver metallic paint finish.

Aygo diesel prices

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