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Toyota Australia’s senior executives have revealed its local engineering team have been “intrinsically involved” in the development of the incoming LandCruiser 300 Series, promising the new model will be on point on everything from towing to capability and off-road performance.
Toyota says any fears the new LC300 will be less rugged and capable than the outgoing LandCruiser 200 Series are wide of the mark, confirming its Vehicle Evaluation team has been involved in the development of the new model, and have “confidence” it will impress its fans.
“We have Altona Vehicle Evaluation section within TMCA (Toyota Australia), and TMC (Toyota Japan) works intrinsically and closely with our group in the development of any off-road vehicles,” says Rod Ferguson, Toyota Australia’s General Manager of Product Planning and Development.
“That’s where we have the confidence to say that the vehicle testing and vehicle suitability - whether it’s towing or off-road performance - will be there in any product we release.”
Toyota has made some biked promises about the LC300 - essentially that it will out-perform the LC200 Series in all the ways that matter - and this week they confirmed just how big a role they’ve played in its development.
With Australia being a key market for the LandCruiser, our tough and rugged landscape has provided the ideal trial-by-fire testing required for the new model, and that work has been led out of Toyota’s Centre of Excellence in Altona, Victoria.
“Our team is intrinsically involved in what we call development - and development is the feedback of testing something, improving it, that’s development - and that’s what gives us confidence,” Mr Ferguson says.
“The Australian environment is an intrinsic part of developing those vehicles.”
His comments come as sales of the LC200 continue to soar in Australia, with that model recording one of its best-ever months in March, despite the clock ticking down to the new model’s arrival.
Most of those sales are thought to have been caused by Australia’s international border closures, with more people looking for a vehicle they can tour our country in, rather than travelling overseas. But at least some of those are also thought to be customers keen to secure the last V8 diesel LandCruiser, with that engine thought to be axed in the LC300.
And it’s this latter group Toyota chose to address this week, with the company’s VP of sales and marketing, Sean Hanley, promising the new model would outshine the old.
“I get the emotion of LandCruiser. In many respects, it’s a really strong point for our brand,” he said. “What we don’t want, or what we’re… careful with, is we never ever want to in any way mislead our customers into thinking whatever might or might not happen with a car.
“With LandCruiser, we understand the importance of that car in this market, and we understand our customers functionality requirements in this market, be it off road or performance.
“Whatever LandCruiser we’ve brought out in history, it’s always improved, and we don’t want people to think that we’d ever do something with any LandCruiser, whether that’s now or in 10 years’ time, that would ever diminish its capability in this market.”
International reports have pointed to the LC200 factories now re-tooling for the LC300, with that vehicle expected to debut as early as this month ahead of an on-sale date - at least internationally - later this year.
Reports have also optioned to a new ladder-frame TNGA platform, and a trio of engines, but the first to arrive in Australia should be a new 3.3-litre six-cylinder diesel, which Toyota locally has promised will outperform the now-defunct V8 on both power and torque. The new reports also point to the possibility of electrification joining that engine in the future, with Toyota reportedly working on a diesel hybrid. There is also a brace of turbocharged 3.5-litre V6 petrol engines - one hybrid, the other not - but neither have been confirmed for our market.
The new LC300 will reportedly be bigger in almost every key dimension than the vehicle it replaces, stretching some 4970mm in length, 1985mm in width and 1870mm in height, and it will ride on a 2900mm wheelbase. Inside, there will be a choice of five or eight-seat configurations, over two or three rows. Inside, there will be a 12.3-inch multimedia screen, and Toyota's Safety Sense package will add active safety kit.
In the meantime, the Toyota LandCruiser 200 Series had one of its strongest months on record in March, with the sales soaring skyward even as the new 300 Series prepares for its debut.
Figures released by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries today see the Toyota LandCruiser Wagon at 2244 units sold in March, up a staggering 78 per cent month-on-month, and 60.7 per cent year-to-date.
But it does feel as though 200 Series’ time is very nearly up in Australia, with the brand’s top executives declining to confirm the vehicle is still being produced in Japan as international reports point to the factories shutting down LC200 lines and switching to 300 Series production.