Toyota breaks electric vehicle lap record at the ‘Ring (+video)

August 31st, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

It was only a few years ago that the electric vehicle lap record at the Nürburgring didn’t mean much to anyone, but the title is now hotly contested. The latest developer of electric propulsion to throw their hat into the ring, at the ‘Ring, is Toyota with its TMG EV P001.

The oddly named but beautifully curved electric Toyota set a new record recently with a run of seven minutes, 47.79 seconds. This new record has smashed the previous time, held by Peugeot’s EX1 by more than a minute. The EX1 clocked a lap time of 9.01:33 and prior to that the Mini E held the record with a time of 9 minutes 51 seconds. To achieve the feat the TMG EV P001 uses a 100% electric powertrain with a top speed of 260km/h and a huge 800Nm of torque.

Toyota’s electric racer record puts it in line with the lap times recorded by petrol-powered hero vehicles like the Porsche 911 Turbo and the Nissan GT-R. But what’s the point of it all? Turns out that Toyota wants to sell the powertrain used in the EV P001 from next year. Expect to see the components in passenger vehicles from 2012 which should mean a welcome improvement in performance of Toyota’s electric/hybrid offerings. Electric cars might just become exciting after all. Continue reading “Toyota breaks electric vehicle lap record at the ‘Ring (+video)” »

Toyota Prius Plug-in charging to Frankfurt debut

August 16th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Eco-warriors rejoice, the production version of the Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid will make its world debut at next month’s 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show.

It’s a huge launch for Toyota and the Japanese carmaker is claiming that the Prius Plug-in is the next “major milestone” in its 40-year quest for sustainable mobility. The production plug-in hybrid sedan has a freshly designed, compact lithium-ion battery that allows this latest Prius to reach a new low in minimal fuel consumption, sipping just 2.2 litres per 100 kilometers with CO2 emissions of just 49 grams per km.

The plug-in Prius isn’t a successor to the current model and Toyota will continue to focus on hybrid vehicles without a plug,. But Toyota says the Plug-in Prius is its new flagship that showcases the latest developments in hybrid-drive technology. It also says that the car’s value and incredible fuel consumption combine to make it the ultimate eco car. Continue reading “Toyota Prius Plug-in charging to Frankfurt debut” »

Toyota teases 2012 Camry before official reveal

August 15th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Toyota has revealed another teaser image of its upcoming 2012 Camry sedan. The new Camry is expected to be revealed, in its entirety, in the coming weeks.

For now, fans of the sensible sedan will have to make do with the new image showing a hook-shaped tailight and what will be a high rear boot line. The Camry isn’t well known for its dynamic looks and the new model is looking to change this with a more aggressive style.

The first teaser image put the headlight on show with a honeycomb grille and recessed fog lamp. It’s certainly promising, but we will reserve judgement until the Camry’s full sheetmetal is exposed. Continue reading “Toyota teases 2012 Camry before official reveal” »

Toyota shows off ‘Window to the World’ glass tech (+video)

July 20th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

As we head deeper in the 21st-century we are becoming more surrounded by ‘smart’ technology as it creeps into everyday items. Soon our refrigerators will have internet connections and our phones already have more processing power than a 1970′s super computer. Carmakers are on the cutting edge of this smart tech and Toyota has just released a video showing what might be possible in the future of automotive glass.

While glass may seem like a technology that’s already developed to its conclusion, there is much more to come. This new smart glass  named ‘Window to the World’ will provide information of the world outside and also be an interactive tool to view it. Engineers and designers from Toyota Motor Europe and the Copenhagen Instituted of Interaction Design worked in together to conceptualize this unique option for a cars rear windows. Continue reading “Toyota shows off ‘Window to the World’ glass tech (+video)” »

Toyota reveals facelifted 2012 Hilux ute

July 14th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Toyota has officially unveiled its facelifted 2012 Hilux ute. The 2012 Hilux has a number of styling updates and safety upgrades across the range.

Cosmetic changes include a completely new front end on the 2012 Hilux, this means new guards, headlights, bumper, bonnet and three-bar grille. At the rear, there’s new tailights and a replaced rear bumper. There’s also new mirrors and alloy wheel designs.

Inside, changes are subtle and centre around new seat and door trims, there’s also an available 6.1-inch touchscreen multimedia system. Toyota is also claiming that the 2012 Hilux will offer “greater colour consistency throughout the interior.”

Anti-lock braking has now been adopted across the Hilux range as a standard feature, previously it was only available as an option for models except the top-spec SR5. Continue reading “Toyota reveals facelifted 2012 Hilux ute” »

Toyota FJ Cruiser 2011 Review

July 1st, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

It’s rare that any vehicle triggers a confused response from the average kiwi but the Toyota FJ Cruiser is one machine that can. With retro-inspired styling and unconventional angles the FJ Cruiser body has a brave disregard for low-key Kiwi tastes. Many Kiwi’s find themselves torn between loving it or loathing it. The Toyota badge draws us in, instantly recognising the FJ as a vehicle that must be reliable and practical like our much-loved Corolla or Hilux. But on closer inspection this Toyota seems different, it appears strangely familiar but clearly favours form over function, it’s bulky and flashy and we just don’t know. Toyota has certainly thrown the NZ market a curveball with its FJ Cruiser. In an attempt to avoid mass confusion, Car and SUV had some seat time in this distinctive off roader and brought back the results.

New Zealand is late in receiving the FJ Cruiser with it first released in the States back in 2006. It began life as a design concept paying homage to the original FJ40 Land Cruisers of the 1960s but its popularity led to full production. Built with the U.S market firmly in mind the FJ comes to us in one specification but with nine body colours on offer but the roof must be white. Continue reading “Toyota FJ Cruiser 2011 Review” »

Toyota to debut GRMN Hybrid Concept II at Nürburgring race

June 23rd, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Toyota got import car fans excited at last year’s Tokyo Auto Salon when it unveiled a hybrid-power MR2 roadster-based concept car that was developed in partnership with Japan’s Gazoo Racing.

Now, over a year later Toyota is following up on that concept machine with its successor the GRMN Sports Hybrid Concept II. The new hybird sports car will receive its official unveiling and on track debut this weekend at the 39th Nürburgring 24-hour endurance race.

The name “GRMN” has special meaning for the Japanese brand and stands for Gazoo Racing tuned by Meister of Nürburgring. The car has been named in honour of the late Hiromu Naruse (1944-2010), Toyota’s chief test driver and head of the Gazoo Racing team who died in an accident last year driving a prototype of the Lexus LFA Nurburgring Edition in Germany (read news).

The car is an evolution of the earlier concept and features a mid-mounted 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine that puts 183kW of power to the rear wheels. The car is also equipped with an electric motor that adds another 37kW and runs the front wheels, giving the hybrid concept all-wheel-drive handling capability. Total power output is rated at 220kW. Continue reading “Toyota to debut GRMN Hybrid Concept II at Nürburgring race” »

Toyota releases first images and details on 2012 Yaris

June 20th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Toyota has dropped the official details and some images of it’s new third generation 2012 Yaris hatch. The new Yaris has been initially shown in European-spec form but expect few changes to the model we ultimately see here in NZ.

Toyota’s newest supermini will be firstly manufactured at the Japanese firm’s Valenciennes factory in France with sales to begin in Europe around September.

For the continent the the 2012 Yaris will be launched with a choice of three engines. Two will be petrol powered, a 1.0-litre VVT-i and a 1.3-litre dual VVT-I, and the third motor will be a 1.4-litre D-4D diesel mill. A hybrid version is also in the works and will be based on the 2011 Yaris concept car that featured at this year’s Geneva Motor Show. More details on the hybrid Yaris are expected in the coming months.

Features on the 2012 Yaris will include a new multimedia connectivity system named Toyota Touch & Go. This unit will  feature a rather large 6.1-inch touch screen display and will be standard kit on almost all Yaris vehicles. Continue reading “Toyota releases first images and details on 2012 Yaris” »