Toyota’s Top to Bottom NZ off-road adventure reaches the Bluff

June 2nd, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Toyota NZ’s FJ Cruiser ‘Top to Bottom’ off-road adventure reached the Bluff on Monday, concluding the adventure for Marc Ellis and his support crew. The special journey was part of 60th Anniversary celebrations for Toyota’s iconic Land Rover and included two weeks trawling over 4,980 kilometres of rugged off road country.

In typical Land Cruiser fashion the new, retro-inspired vehicle survived in good nick, except for a healthy caking of mud, a cracked windscreen, one blown tyre, and a some dog wee where the farm dogs from Molesworth Station got a bit over excited as they checked out the inside of the FJ Cruiser.

The off-road challenge, with Marc Ellis at the helm of a specially fitted-out new FJ Cruiser, restarted on 15 May at Puhoi, north of Auckland, and journeyed through Waikato, King Country, Taranaki, Wairarapa, Wellington, Marlborough, Canterbury, and Otago. Continue reading “Toyota’s Top to Bottom NZ off-road adventure reaches the Bluff” »

Toyota NZ marking Land Cruiser 60th anniversary with epic Kiwi journey

January 17th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

For 2011 Toyota New Zealand is celebrating the 60th anniversary of its legendary Land Cruiser.

The Land Cruiser is an iconic model for Toyota and has been part of New Zealand’s forestry, farming and off-road heritage for nearly six decades.  As a key part of its celebrations, Toyota is challenging television presenter Marc Ellis to drive a new FJ Cruiser, which is unashamedly a tribute to the original FJ40, from Cape Reinga to Bluff — entirely off tar sealed roads.

The adventure dubbed ‘Top to Bottom — Off road’ is a tribute to the legacy Land Cruisers have forged after 60 years, says Neeraj Lala, Toyota’s Assistant General Manager of Marketing and Product.

“In many ways, this trip reflects the celebrated Kiwi spirit of giving things a go. Toyota believes ‘if you dream it, you can do it’, and we’d like New Zealanders the length of the country to help us make the dream a reality. Perhaps they can open up a private track or suggest a secret route the vehicles can use to avoid a road, offer a splash of petrol if things get tight in the back country, or they might just like to invite some weary travelers in for a hot cuppa.”

Ellis will set off down Ninety Mile Beach on 21 February. Meeting up with the intrepid travelers at points along the way will be a fully restored Kiwi classic — a late 1970s FJ40 Land Cruiser which Toyota bought from a customer after a long search for the classic and will give away to someone who helps the team achieve its goal.

“It’s quite fitting for the new FJ Cruiser, which un-mistakenly descends from some of the most iconic Land Cruiser models, to be the vehicle to attempt this epic journey,” says Neeraj Lala.

Toyota expects the team to take 16 days of driving to reach the southern tip of New Zealand, via seven checkpoints. Ellis is set to meet national and local legends on the way.

Ellis has been challenged to only use back country roads, farm trails and tracks. If he wants to go on tar seal he has to earn credits to do so by meeting further challenges.

The vehicles will head south on the North Island’s western side as far as Taranaki, traverse the island to Hawke’s Bay, and on to the South Island via Wellington. From Picton, the FJ Cruiser will go through the centre of the South Island high country and the heart of Otago.

Continue reading “Toyota NZ marking Land Cruiser 60th anniversary with epic Kiwi journey” »

Toyota FJ Cruiser to launch in Australia next year

August 10th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Toyota Australia announced yesterday that it will be adding the retro-styled FJ Cruiser SUV to its model range in the first quarter of 2011. Australian buyers will first see the domestic market version with a pre-production model on display at the Sydney International Motor Show scheduled for October 15.

The FJ Cruiser shares a platform with the Toyota Prado, and utilizes the same independent front and solid-axle rear suspension as the Prado. Bodywork is entirely different though with the FJ Cruiser designed to mimic the classic FJ40 Landcruiser.

“FJ Cruiser has loads of character that isn’t found in any other SUV, let alone one that is built for off-road terrain,” said Toyota Australia’s senior executive director sales and marketing, David Buttner. “It will be a lot of fun to own and drive, satisfying those who want a modern vehicle with the boulder-crawling spirit of Toyota’s legendary off-roaders,” he added.

While Toyota has not confirmed technical details, the FJ Cruiser is expected to be powered by the same 178kW 4.0 litre 1GR-FE petrol V6 that’s used in the US version of the sporty off-roader (and also in the local Prado). However, being based on the Prado means a diesel option is likely for Australia.

To date the FJ Cruiser was only offered in left-hand drive form, but the addition of a right-hand drive variant will allow Toyota to tap into new markets, possibly including New Zealand.

Stay tuned for updates.