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.