by rivals who punched its share of the three-row minivan market down to 35 percent
from 60 percent in 1997, Toyota has bounced back off the ropes to launch what
it hopes will be a comeback in the form of the second-generation Ipsum.
Like its predecessor, this model will be exported but the previous Picnic export
badge has been changed to Avensis Verso for Europe where Toyota also fields
a sedan, hatchback and wagon range called Avensis and a Yaris Verso mini-minivan.
Avensis Verso shipments start this summer.
Corporate Profile –
The latest Toyota Ipsum/Avensis Verso is a little longer than its predecessor
to provide more passenger legroom and has a new, larger, 2.4-litre petrol engine
with variable valve timing. In Japan, that is attached to a four-speed electronic
control automatic and four-wheel drive is optional. European buyers can expect
five-speed manual models to make up the bulk of shipments.
Japanese buyers can choose between six and seven seat standard models or opt
for wheelchair-friendly variants with a slide-out front passenger seating.
Reflecting the competitiveness of the market and the success of rivals such
as Honda’s Odyssey and swoopy-styled new Stream (also a seven-seater and
holding a ticket for Europe), the new Japanese market Toyota Ipsum line-up ranges
in price between $US16,500 to US$23,000 – the same as the old one.
Naturally, Japan’s clever gadget inventors have had a hand in the new
minivan. Reversing cameras – rare in export markets – are now passé
in Japan so there’s a new twist to that trick called the blind corner monitor.
Roll up to a crossing at less than about 5mph and a camera behind the grille
about a metre ahead of the driver’s eyes sweeps a 180-degree view. Nifty.
Other electronic devices operate numerous safety features like anti-lock brakes
and anti-skid control, minimise body roll to counter motion sickness and fettle
suspension settings according to load.
DVD-based satellite navigation is optional along with a variety of passenger
entertainment and audio systems.
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