Back to the fu­ture

With retro licks and mod­ern kicks, Toy­ota hopes to hit the spot with the FJ Cruiser, writes CHRIS RI­LEY.

The Weekend Post - Motoring - - Front Page -

NO prices yet but Toy­ota is get­ting ready to launch its funky FJ Cruiser in Aus­tralia. Due to go on sale in March, be sure to check it out at the Syd­ney mo­tor show if you’re there.

The FJ Cruiser takes its name from the 1960s-era FJ40, which was known as the ve­hi­cle that could travel to and re­turn from any ex­treme en­vi­ron­ment.

In­ter­est­ingly, the FJ is the only model to wear the name Toy­ota spelled out across its front grille, in­stead of the cor­po­rate em­blem.

But, while the de­sign has strong retro el­e­ments, that’s about as far as the links to the orig­i­nal go.

First shown at the Chicago mo­tor show in 2003, Toy­ota de­cided to put this car into pro­duc­tion due to pub­lic de­mand.

Here, how­ever, it is likely to be a niche model and as such is ex­pected to gen­er­ate only a hand­ful of sales.

The FJ sits on a mod­i­fied Prado plaform and is pow­ered by the 4.0-litre petrol V6 from Prado.

Un­for­tu­nately, there’s no diesel model which will limit sales.

The car we get will be built in Ja­pan and fea­tures a part-time four-wheel drive sys­tem, with low range gear­ing for se­ri­ous off road­ing.

The V6 puts out 200kW of power and and 380Nm of torque, and is cou­pled with a five-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion.

Dou­ble-wish­bone coil sus­pen­sion at the front and coils at the rear pro­vide large wheel ar­tic­u­la­tion and im­pres­sive wa­ter cross­ing ca­pa­bil­ity, while there is ex­cel­lent ground clear­ance.

The FJ Cruis­ers’ ex­te­rior styling pro­vides the most ob­vi­ous con­nec­tion with Toy­ota’s roots body-on-frame struc­ture, stocky ap­pear­ance, unique Toy­ota badge on the grille, and the ar­range­ment of its head­lights and grille.

Set­ting it apart from other SUVs, its retro-in­spired styling in­cludes a near ver­ti­cal wind­screen with three wipers across the wind­screen, a white roof ir­re­spec­tive of body colour and wrap-around rear win­dows.

In­side, there are two rows of seats with stan­dard­size front door and smaller, re­verse-open­ing rear doors. In keep­ing with the FJ’s mantra of style and sub­stance, Toy­ota has opted for a no frills in­te­rior, in­clud­ing moulded floors for easy clean­ing.

Trans­la­tion: you don’t get floor car­pets for your money – but that’s a good thing isn’t it?

In the US prices start from around $25,000 but ex­pect it to be much more than that here.

Funk it up: The FJ40’s love-’em or hate-’em lines cover a rugged 200kw V6 unit – but there’s no diesel op­tion and lux­u­ries are few and far be­tween.

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