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Mobil­i­ty with Atti­tude (MWA) — Toyota’s Alter­na­tive to Rolls-Royce Has the Best Seats In the Indus­try. Here’s Why



The car you see here is the new­ly-designed, third-gen­er­a­tion Toy­ota Cen­tu­ry — the first redesign of the mod­el in 21 years — and you can think of it as Japan’s answer to the likes of Bent­ley and Rolls Royce. It’s a big, regal sedan meant to be pilot­ed by chauf­feurs, not own­ers. But before I tell you more about how the Cen­tu­ry is pow­ered, how much it costs, and all the oth­er auto­mo­tive writ­ing riga­ma­role I would like to direct your atten­tion to the car’s uphol­stery, for it most clear­ly illus­trates why the Cen­tu­ry is unlike any oth­er lux­u­ry car for sale today.

Notice how they look like it’s lift­ed from a 1990s econ­o­my car? Notice how there’s no trace of shiny leather? That’s because the seats and door cards are all fin­ished in wool (though if you want leather, you can spec it). Think not of the thick, itchy thrift store sweater but a classy Mr. Porter gar­ment, or a fine­ly made suit. Qual­i­ty wool is actu­al­ly a fan­tas­tic mate­r­i­al for car inte­ri­ors because it’s nat­u­ral­ly breath­able, nat­u­ral­ly mois­ture-wick­ing and it does not become ass-sear­ing­ly hot in the sum­mer or ice-cold in the win­ter as leather does. It doesn’t squeak, and it doesn’t rum­ble when you sit or fart in it. Despite this, wool is all but non-exis­tent in the auto indus­try while leather con­tin­ues to be the fan­cy, de fac­to choice.

But Toy­ota knows bet­ter. It’s known for some time, actu­al­ly, as wool’s been the stan­dard choice of uphol­stery in the Cen­tu­ry for decades. Nev­er mind the fact that it does not look as flashy as leather, because the Toy­ota Cen­tu­ry is not about that. It’s about pro­vid­ing objec­tive com­fort, which is why the front pas­sen­ger seat has a drop-down back that the rear-seat pas­sen­ger can use to prop up their legs. The rear pas­sen­ger area, by the way, fea­tures not only a mas­sive dis­play but also an addi­tion­al touch-screen dis­play for con­trol­ling the vol­ume of the 20 speak­ers as well as air con­di­tion­ing, seat mas­sage func­tion and the cur­tains. Per­haps more telling of the Century’s incred­i­ble inte­ri­or is the fact that Toy­ota proud­ly boasts that “the height dif­fer­ence between the scuff plate and floor has decreased by 15 mil­lime­ters to ensure the floor mats lay flat when installed.”

The Cen­tu­ry has about 425 horse­pow­er which comes by way of a hybrid V8 sys­tem, which replaces the out­go­ing Century’s V12. It goes with­out say­ing that the Cen­tu­ry is well insu­lat­ed to keep any noise from the engine from creep­ing into the cab­in, but Toy­ota also added an “active noise con­trol sys­tem” which reduces noise and vibra­tion upon start­up. To make sure the ride is as com­fort­able as pos­si­ble, the Cen­tu­ry has an elec­tron­i­cal­ly con­trolled air sus­pen­sion to iron our road imper­fec­tions.

The Cen­tu­ry will go on sale with a list price of 19,600,000 yen, or about $180,000. That seems like a lot, but con­sid­er the com­pa­ra­ble Bent­ley Mul­sanne which starts at around $304,000 or Rolls Royce Phan­tom which starts at just over $417,000. And yes, while it’s not as osten­ta­tious as either, the Cen­tu­ry is very much equal regard­ing com­fort and fin­ish.

You’ve prob­a­bly also fig­ured out by now that this is a car made for Japan and you can’t get it in the US. And you’re right. The good news is, you can legal­ly own the very first gen­er­a­tion of the Cen­tu­ry in the US which, while dat­ed, still rolls with com­fort­able wool seats, a spa­cious inte­ri­or and a qui­et and but­tery-smooth ride. Bet­ter still, that’ll only set you back around $10,000.

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