I'm pretty sure that most of us have rested our bottoms on the rear bench of a Toyota Crown at least once in our lives. Whether it is through the streets of Shinjuku in Tokyo, through Hong Kong's Tsim Sha Tsui or even through our very own Orchard Road, you'd probably rode in one of those ubiquitous taxi cabs before.
The Toyota Crown you see here is a rather different animal from the ones that you see at taxi stands - both cars only share the Crown nameplate. Toyota aficionados would have known by now that the Crown has been around in the Japanese carmaker's line-up for as long as they can remember (it first appeared in 1955 to be exact). In Japan, the Crown is the ride of choice for the country's top elite executives, bosses and government officials.
The Crown's huge appeal in its homeland is obvious. There are even several different Crown models with different exterior styling details to suit differing tastes. The sporty looking Crown Athlete for example is targeted at the younger and less conservative crowd while the Majesta range topping model offers even more luxuries and a V8 motor.
The Crown Royal Saloon, introduced by Toyota official distributor Borneo Moors recently, sits below the Majesta in the Crown range.
The last time Borneo Motors had a Crown in its line-up was in 2004 with the last generation model. The Crown saw little success back then as it had a relatively high price tag and buyers weren't convinced of an expensive Toyota. With the recent high COE prices though, Borneo decided to reintroduce the Crown, in its latest, 13th iteration to woo executive car buyers whose buying sentiments are less sensitive to those who buy bread and butter models like the Vios. The big question is, can the Crown make the cut with our sophisticated and image conscious local executives and towkays here this time round?
From the outside, the new Crown looks rather elegant and restraint. There are echoes of Lexus styling cues in its overall silhouette and stance, especially around the rear of the car. In terms of size, the Crown is longer than the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and its Lexus GS300 sibling.
The current generation model, first introduced in Japan in 2008, looks less conservative than any of its predecessors thanks to its curvier headlamps, less upright grille and its less rakish A-pillars. But put it next to the new Audi A6 or Jaguar XF, the Crown still does look conservative and rather unexciting. Then again, this is what the Crown has always been about - conservative and formal. Interesting point to note that the Crown's exterior only features one Toyota emblem on the whole car, on the boot lid - the rest of the badges on the front grille, steering wheel, centre console and C-pillars all feature the bespoke Crown badge.