Toyota is breathing fresh life into the saturated SUV market with its latest offering. The Century limousine has been around for decades but has just become bigger and bolder after transitioning from a sedan to an SUV. Now in its fourth generation, the model is designed especially for passengers to be chauffeured around town in maximum comfort.
Rear doors swing open to a 75-degree angle, or buyers can opt for sliding rear doors for even easier access to the rear seat. Once settled in the back – two captain’s chairs complete with lace doilies at the shoulder and head – one enters a realm of complete luxury. The rear seats can recline to a flat position, and between them, a centre console includes a split two-way touchscreen that allows for personalisation of comfort, infotainment and seat placement and temperature. Tucked away at the back is a slender refrigerated compartment.
The interior is nearly silent in EV mode, and even with the engine going, the passenger compartment exudes a zen-like calm. As for the chauffeur, the IP and controls are handsome and well organised. Nothing flashy here, but there doesn’t need to be – like the chauffeur themself – professionalism and competency in an elegant and restrained manner are what is required.
Changan Qiyuan A07
Inspired by Chinese culture, the Changan Qiyuan A07 is a new electric four-door sedan that marries traditional design ideas with what the company calls a “digital intelligence experience.”
The A07’s cockpit is designed around the theme of an “island of emotions” which is also inspired by the maritime Sun Glitter theme. A strong yet gentle line runs from the door panels into the dashboard, wrapping around and combining parts of the interior that can often look separated. The suspended dashboard aims to resemble an island floating at sea, while buttons are in black contrast sections to reduce visual clutter.
Effort has gone toward the user experience beyond the touchscreen or steering wheel functions, with key hardware given more of a handcrafted and haptic feel. The door handles, for example, use pushbuttons and the window switches are uniquely shaped knobs that bring a touch of quality to an otherwise mundane task. The design team concludes that the overall feel for the passenger and driver is “an elegant, homely style.”
BMW Vision Neue Klasse
Unveiled at 2023 IAA Mobility, BMW’s latest concept shows the German brand’s eagerness to push the envelope on its design language. Like Changan’s A07, the BMW Vision Neue Klasse is an electric four-door sedan concept but switches out a curvy sleek shape for a less conventional, but classic boxy form with a distinct three-box silhouette.
A laminated glass roof sweeps over the passenger compartment making it so open as to almost be considered a convertible. Four molded seats are trimmed out with “corded fabric” with matching trim panels at the doors and IP. BMW’s signature iDrive returns with panoramic vision that projects onto the windscreen within the driver’s line of sight, a new level of heads-up display. The centre screen, which can also project information to the heads-up display, is a parallelogram with two jaunty angled corners, a subtle nod to the classic “Hofmeister Kink”. iDrive controls are placed on the centre of the steering wheel, removing the infamous circular knob on the center console. There is a distinct feeling of the ultra-modern sleek tech world colliding with retro throwbacks inside the concept.