Toyota presumably bows to customer demand as it reintroduces its off-road icon to the JDM
By PH Staff / Wednesday, 29 November 2023 / Loading comments
Imagine a reality where Land Rover introduced an all-new Defender that was greeted with acclaim, but continued to build and sell the old one alongside it in much lower volume for those who preferred the traditional approach. Land Rover, not unreasonably, said this was not possible or even desirable when it ceased production of its venerable off-roader back in 2016. Toyota, which has just launched a well-received new generation of Land Cruiser, stopped selling its equivalent of the Defender domestically back in 2004, deeming it surplus to requirements in Japan. Now, 20 years later – and 40 since it was introduced – the J70 returns to the JDM.
Why? Well, probably because the manufacturer reckons it can shift 400 a month in its home market. And it has existing capacity to continue producing a long-running model still sold elsewhere. And because it likely realises the value of its ‘authentic off-road design, tough frame, outstanding basic performance, and simple component structure’ to a customer base that favours them over the modern-day alternative. Additionally, there’s the car’s legendary status to consider, and its implied rejection of anything as frilly and non-essential as moving with the times. It’s like buying a waxed jacket. Or an old Defender. Or a new Grenadier.
Inevitably, the very latest JDM-spec 70 Series is a little more like that latter than it is the former. And that’s because, despite appearances, its maker has thoughtfully updated the model prior to its reintroduction. We talked about its very gentle design revisions when Toyota announced it alongside the latest Land Cruiser, but you also get Vehicle Stability Control, Active Traction Control, Hill Start Assist Control, Downhill Assist Control and electronic diff locks to go with your ladder frame chassis and (entirely excellent) nearside wing-mounted mirror.
Additionally, there’s a 204hp 2.8-litre turbo diesel under the hood, mated to a six-speed automatic – giving you a thoroughly modern-sounding 369lb ft of mud-defying torque. On-road comfort is said to have improved, too. Built in Japan, there’s only one trim level – which is called ‘AX’ for some reason – priced from 4,800,000 yen. Which translates to a depressingly reasonable £25k. Impossible to compare apples with apples a world away, of course – but imagine the 70 (or a Defender or a Grenadier) going on sale over here for anywhere close to that amount. Still, the JDM doesn’t get it all its own way: Toyota has also launched a new version of the short-wheelbase three-door model powered by a 228hp petrol V6 – a derivative it currently only sells in the UAE. Go figure.
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