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Toyota Vellfire

OneShift Editorial Team
OneShift Editorial Team
27 May 2015

When the second-generation Toyota Vellfire was launched alongside the third-generation Toyota Alphard recently back in January, Toyota's Japanese press materials described the more striking Vellfire's sheet metal to be focused on “boldness”, whereas the Alphard's styling was claimed to emphasise “luxury”. Despite the marketing gibberish, there is no doubt that the pair look extremely arresting, oozing presence in abundance.

The second-generation Toyota Vellfire, in our opinion at least, appears to be more elegant all-round than the Alphard. It misses out on Alphard's massive and bling-y chrome grille, instead adopting a simpler and more conventional grille with horizontal slats.

While the Vellfire sports a completely different front fascia from the Alphard, both siblings share the same rear, save for the bumpers and the rear lights – the Vellfire features “iced” rear light clusters in white while the Alphard opts for standard fare with the clusters in red.

The Vellfire is mechanically identical to the Alphard, with a key difference being the skin. The new Vellfire, like the Alphard, rides on a brand new platform, while still adopting a front-engined, front-wheel drive layout (with four-wheel drive being available in Japan only). Improvements made, according to Toyota are better aerodynamics, increased body rigidity, as well as enhanced soundproofing.

Despite the Vellfire being a tall car, entry into the interior is assisted by the the side steps and conveniently-placed grab-handles at each door. Despite a drop of 10mm in vehicle height, cabin height has remained on par with its predecessor.

Interior

Inside, the Vellfire is identical to the Alphard. The roof-mounted LED mood lighting has fourteen selectable colours and four different brightness modes coupled with rear air conditioning controls. Bathing the cabin with plenty of sunlight is a pair of front sunroof and rear panoramic roof that tilts and slides.

The dashboard has a well-laid and logical layout and is easy to use. The matted chrome, wood, leather-stitched instrument binnacle, and diamond-patterned quilted alcantara seats reminds you that you are in a premium car.

The middle-row seats are of course, the pièce de résistance of the whole car. They are the filling that makes Oreos what they are. These exceptionally inviting and comfortable looking seats feature a winged design that aids upper body lateral support, and the winged headrests offer the same lateral support too. Of course the luxury of being chauffeured in this car, with the seats reclined, enjoying forty winks is an absolute indulgence bettered perhaps only by more expensive cars like the Mercedes-Maybach S-Class.

The electric sliding doors open wide, granting good access to the third row seats. Back in the last row, its plentifully spacious and easy to get comfortable, and plenty of cubbyholes too. Despite being equipped with three seatbelts at the last row, they are best suited for short journeys or for kids on longer ones.

Powering the Vellfire is the same 2.5-litre or 3.5-litre V6 units found on the Alphard. The 2.5-litre inline 4 engine is a new engine that is up to 11% more efficient than its predecessor's 2.4-litre unit, producing 180bhp, and mated to a 7-speed Super CVT-i gearbox. The 276bhp 3.5-litre V6 used is carried over from its predecessor, coupled with a 6-speed Super ECT 'box.

Drive

The Vellfire has little in the way of the deftness or enthusiasm in the way it steers, but it is predictable, light, and stable. Moreover, it is no worse off for focusing on being a soothing drive rather than a stimulating one, especially with focus put by Toyota engineers into providing a no-compromise ride comfort.

The car is able to absorb high-frequency undulations without much fidgeting, and big-bump absorption is very good, with damper rebound well-controlled. Part of this is due to the replacement of the outgoing model's torsion beam rear suspension with a double wishbone set up.

Road noise has been reduced by quite a fair bit from its predecessor, while wind noise has reduced too. Radar-guided cruise control makes light work of long distance drives the car may likely face, while the surround-view parking system reduces the stress of parking something so huge too.



Like the Alphard, the new Vellfire improves on the tried and tested formula that Toyota used to bring about the sales success of these two models in the past few years. Road presence, ride comfort, acres of space, and first-class middle-row seats are what made their predecessors popular, and this new car works on the same formula, and we have no doubt this uber lounge-on-wheels will be a sales success too.

Conclusion

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Cars in this article
Toyota Vellfire 2.5 Z G-Edition 7S (A) 2015

Toyota Vellfire 2.5 Z G-Edition 7S (A) 2015

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