Sales of Toyota's new Mark II, launched in Japan on October 24, had reached 22,000 by November 23, almost four times more than the monthly sales target of 6,000 cars.

Toyota claims that the new model's sporty, luxurious appearance and improved performance are key reasons the new car is a smash hit with Japanese buyers.

Forty per cent of buyers are in their 50s and 60% previously owned a Mark II. Two-litre models account for 50 percent of sales so far.

The Mark II is one of Toyota's longest established models in Japan, dating back to the Corona Mk II of the late 1960s. Previous models have been exported under various names including Cressida.