Max power

Friday - - MOTORING -

that doesn’t look like it wants to ven­ture off road? This sure is a unique take on the ever-so-pop­u­lar ve­hi­cle.

We’re off to a some­what strange start then. On the one hand, I like its low­ered stance, which gives it a more ag­gres­sive and im­pos­ing look com­pared to the stan­dard FJs out there. Fur­ther dis­tin­guish­ing this from the oth­ers are front fog lamps and day­time run­ning LEDs and loads of chrome trim (the ex­haust tip, grille and door han­dles are bling­ing), which brings out the black paint­work.

It’s the only FJ I’ve seen wor­thy of a sec­ond glance. I’m not the big­gest fan of the quirky SUV – those rearhinged half doors saw to that – but I’m will­ing to give the Street a chance to im­press.

Vis­ually, it’s got my at­ten­tion, for bet­ter or for worse; I can’t help but think it’s been bor­rowed from one of Fiddy Cent’s mu­sic videos. I pre­fer Mo­town. Toy­ota’s de­sign team has been try­ing to in­ject a bit of fun in all its re­cently launched mod­els but this is a case of ‘WakuDoki’ over­load.

Sure, the Street looks more fun, but it’s a tad less func­tional. The rear coil sus­pen­sion, for in­stance, bot­toms out even when tack­ling the small­est of speed bumps. A botched chop job? Maybe. The stance is sup­posed to im­prove han­dling but all it seems to do is cre­ate a jit­tery and un­set­tled ride.

Re­gard­less, the FJ – now in its last year of pro­duc­tion – and this limited edi­tion will go down well with younger driv­ers, at whom it is aimed. The retro ap­pear­ance pulls them in like no other and these SUVs are adored here. Not even this one can sour that spe­cial re­la­tion­ship.

Eight years since its in­tro­duc­tion, the FJ Cruiser still looks fresh. The front doors make en­ter­ing and ex­it­ing easy but the rears should have been ditched some­where along the model’s run, while the win­dows re­sem­ble port holes. Be­ing at the back is a claus­tro­pho­bic af­fair al­though kids won’t mind much. To them, this is a bit like a life-size toy.

For­ward vis­i­bil­ity is good, but reach­ing for the sun vi­sor re­quires NBA-length arms. The rest of the cabin is well-ap­pointed and com­fort­able, pack­ing an eight­s­peaker au­dio sys­tem, ice-cool A/C, a natty body-coloured in­stru­ment panel along with safety fea­tures such as dual front airbags, anti-lock brakes and ve­hi­cle sta­bil­ity con­trol. To drive, it’s not the smoothest, but it’s still en­joy­able thanks to the 270bhp V6 pro­duc­ing a healthy 380Nm of torque. It pulls strong, even though it’s car­ry­ing 1,850kg of heft, while the five-speed auto (with part-time 4WD sys­tem) shifts smoothly and is al­ways in the right gear. It’s got a lock­ing rear diff, too, but I can’t see many tak­ing the Street away from the streets. This one was meant to look good – not get its wheels dirty – and it does that with aplomb.

There could be a scrap for one of these 200 limited mod­els – even with an as­ton­ish­ingly high Dh164,900 price tag. It’s just the ticket for those who want some­thing un­con­ven­tional. Very un­con­ven­tional.

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