Toyota Motor's Qatar distributor Abdullah Abdulghani & Brothers (AAB) has launched the FJ Cruiser in Qatar, the first time the model has been sold in the Middle East, describing it as a "modern yet rugged" SUV with "genuine 4WD off-road performance".

The retro-look FJ has styling based on the successful 1960s 'original' Land Cruiser that helped launch the now-popular Toyota off-roader in difficult-terrain markets such as the Middle East and Australia. It was launched first in the US for the 2007 model year with an expected initial production run of 46,000, according to Edmunds.com.

It has been reported that the FJ, first shown as a concept as far back as the 2003 Detroit motor show, was never intended for production but favourable show receptions and consumer demand apparently changed its maker's plans.

AAB general manager Mohamed A al-Dorani told the Gulf Times that the new vehicle had broken the conventional concept of SUVs. Like the US version, the Middle East-specification model has a four-litre petrol V6 engine and five-speed automatic gearbox and is offered in three versions.

Al-Dorani was quoted as saying his company did not expect "large sales" since it was aimed at those "young at heart". Women also would like it, he added.

But fans of the Land Cruiser were not likely to go for this SUV, he told the Gulf Times.