Here are a few articles I've found on the net relating to the new Toyota Estima/Previa. I've seen a few around already, and I really like the look of it, but I don't fancy forking out about £28,000 for a fully loaded model, so I guess I'll stick to my old style Estima (when I can actually get it!). This is a link to the official Toyota information regarding this very nice update to the car we like so much. From what I can tell at the moment, there is only going to be one basic design world-wide, i.e. no smaller style like the Lucida/Emina in Japan, and there will be a diesel engine version available in the UK (about time Toyota!)
NEW PREVIA TAKES TOYOTA TO THE TOP Toyota is to launch an all-new version of its flagship family MPV, the Previa. The new Previa, debuted at Geneva Motor Show 2000, will build on the established reputation of its predecessor for space, comfort and advanced styling.
The new Previa is a striking, ultra-modern MPV that has been designed from the outset to carry six to eight adult passengers and their luggage in comfort. It offers flexible accommodation, excellent ride and handling and, thanks to 'intelligent' engineering, excellent levels of performance, handling, comfort and economy.
Toyota is confident that the new Previa, which will be launched in Europe in May, will set new standards in the family MPV segment and, once again, establish Toyota as the class leader in the market.
Unlike its predecessor new Previa adopts a front-engine, front wheel drive layout which has enabled the Toyota engineers to create an even more spacious interior - the best in the class - within the same overall length (4750mm).
The wheelbase has been increased by 40mm, to 2900mm, the seating positions lower and more natural, and the overall height slightly lower at 1765mm. The new Previa is also slightly narrower than its predecessor at 1790mm, making parking easier, with the turning radius being reduced for better manoeuvrability, indeed the flexibility and functionality of the interior design sets Previa apart from its competitors.
INTERIOR SPACE AND COMFORT
The individual seats (6 and 7 seater) tumble and fold to create space or can be detached and removed from the vehicle entirely. The second row bench seat (8 seater) is split 60:40 and has a reclining back, while the third row bench tips, and can slide up to 825mm, to create extra luggage space.
Whatever seating configuration is chosen, Previa has outstanding luggage carrying capacity. There is ample space behind the third row of seats with a full sized 'boot' 780mm deep. Both second and third rows of seats slide to create optimum legroom and comfort for passengers.
NEW 2.4 LITRE VVT-i ENGINE
Previa is fitted with a new 2.4-litre VVT-i engine (2AZ-FE), developing 115kW at 5,600rpm and maximum torque of 225Nm at 4,000rpm. The new Previa is front-engined, front wheel drive for greater vehicle control and road holding. It also gives maximum interior space and a low, flat floor. By mounting the new engine on a sub-frame at the front of the new platform Toyota has increased body rigidity, which in turn has improved stability and handling, as well as cutting engine noise and vibration to a minimum.
Previa will be equipped with a newly developed five speed manual gearbox or a new generation automatic transaxle that is compact and lightweight. The automatic gearbox is equipped with an advanced control system, which actively responds to driver input and offers rapid, smooth gear changes.
VVT-i technology, plus intelligent engineering to create excellent aerodynamics and reduce overall weight, means new Previa will offer best-in-class fuel economy. Real, on-road performance is excellent and new Previa is exceptionally quiet and comfortable for a vehicle in this class.
Fitted as standard across all models is anti-lock braking (ABS), with electronic brake force distribution (EBD) to control brake force on all four wheels and between the left and right and front and rear wheels in accordance with driving conditions. In the event of an accident, the brake pedal is designed to retreat away from the driver, reducing the risk of any lower leg injury.
New Previa is fully equipped to meet the latest passive safety requirements, with its passenger car handling and braking performance contributing to additional active safety or accident avoidance. Previa will be equipped with Safety Restraint System (SRS) airbags for driver and front seat passenger as standard.
Front seat belts with pre-tensioners and force limiters are also standard, and second and third row seats have 3-point seat belts fitted to the outer seats. The centre seats of the second and third row have a 2-point seat belt. All separate seats, including the second row centre seat, have headrests.
The interior is lined with head impact protection to reduce the impact of collision.
There are 18 different storage spaces and cup and bottle holders are placed throughout the cabin to reflect the likely leisure and family usage of new Previa. There are also personal roof lights for each individual seat (except centre seats).
Electric-powered front windows are standard on all vehicles, and powered rear windows will also be standard in many markets. The sliding side doors, designed for maximum visibility and easy passenger access, are equipped with several safety features to avoid the door being opened when the window is open - or keep the door open when the Previa is parked on a slope.
Cabin temperature is controlled by a manual heater as standard, with air conditioning as an option. Rear cabin temperature is regulated by a ceiling mounted unit and airflow throughout the cabin has been carefully controlled to ensure maximum driver and passenger comfort under all conditions.
A six-speaker system is standard with audio options dictated by local markets or customer choice. An optional multi-display gives driver information in addition to the audio operation status.
TOYOTA PREVIA SPECIFICATIONS
Fuel consumption figures are target data
There are few things as lonely in the world motor industry as a car whose design themes are not followed by anybody else. That's what happened to the original Toyota Previa, launched in 1990. It soldiered on for ten years, but - as with the Maestro and Montego - it went along a styling road nobody else took.
It seemed odd that, with all its resources, Toyota kept the original Previa going so long. Granted, there were various specification upgrades, and those made in 1996 boosted UK sales to the best-ever figure, but the Previa has been on the slide ever since.
More modern designs came onto the full-size MPV market, and there's no doubt that the first-generation Previa also suffered from doing without a rear passenger door on the offside, praiseworthy safety feature though that may have seemed in the beginning.
Well, the next Previa goes on sale on July 5, and the slumbering giant has galvanised into action. Toyota has produced a totally new design - platform, engine, transmission and bodywork. Out goes the mid-engine rear-wheel drive layout, to be replaced by FWD. There's far more interior space. The instrumentation takes the Yaris idea one stage forward and another one back.
And the new car is another example of the previously restrained Toyota design studio going bananas on external appearance. Just look at some of those complex panel pressings. And the headlights. Not only that, but, as with the Celica, Toyota has also managed to create a fascia layout which continues the design theme of the front-end bodywork.
So the new Previa certainly isn't stodgy, and it sure is a large-scale MPV, much better packaged than the old one, with a longer wheelbase inside a shorter overall length. There's an eight-seater GS with manual transmission at £19,950 and automatic at £21,450. Auto boxes are the big thing in the catalogue, because that's what you get with the seven-seater and eight-seater GLS at £22,950, and with the top-rated seven-seater CDX at £24,450.
Seven-seater versions have individual second and third-row seats, eight-seaters have benches. I'd definitely go for the seven-seater style, with the mid and back-row seats all foldable and, if you want, able to be taken out altogether. There are very wide slide-back doors for access to the middle and back rows.
The automatic transmission, which Toyota obviously expects most customers to approve, has a space-saving fascia-mounted selector beside the driver's left hand on the wheel. There's a curved handle with a detent button at the top and an overdrive on/off button at the side. When you snick into "drive" from rest, the box briefly selects third before going into first, so that there's no jerky engagement. Engine timing is retarded slightly during gear changes, to make on-the-move changes smoother too.
Space? Loads of it, all round, although the seats right at the back don't offer as much room as the others. Like most big MPVs the Previa sits high, so that there's good visibility, and it's easy to clamber in and out. There's even a fair amount of luggage space with all the seats in place, although the models I tried didn't seem to have a security cover.
Cubby-holes, cup and bottle holders, overhead lights and ventilators are scattered handily all over the place, although Toyota's mid and rear-seat air vents are at the side, rather than in the roof like the Galaxy/Sharan's.
From a commanding driving position, all the instruments are already in your peripheral view as you look at the road ahead, because, instead of being down on the main part of the fascia, they're projected onto a deep display panel just below the windscreen. Unlike the Yaris, the Previa uses conventional analogue dials. Make sure you read the instruction manual about the instruments, because I was moaning away about not being to see them clearly, when my driving partner looked up the book and pointed out the lighting control.
The latest model handles far better than its predecessor, although, as with most of the larger MPVs, you can throw it through the first part of a roundabout but have to watch the understeer and body lean on the way out. Ride quality is excellent, and the Previa runs smoothly and quietly on back roads and motorways alike.
That's partly down to a very sophisticated variable silencer system, but mainly to the engine. Toyota has just one available right now, and it's a beauty - the latest alloy-block balancer-shaft 2.4-litre VVT-i four-cylinder. It peaks at 152bhp, offers 166lb/ft of torque at 4000 rpm, takes the manual transmission version to 60mph in under eleven seconds, and can get the car to 115mph. Manual cars should do about 35mpg on the extra urban cycle, autos 33mpg. There's a direct injection diesel coming in 2001.
It's amazing to think that only a few years ago most Toyotas were criticised for being yawningly bland. The 21st-century designs are anything but, and here's another one right in your face.
Maurice Glover discovers that Toyota is pinning its hopes on a state-of-the-art oil diesel engine to increase fleet sales of its new people carrier
A DIESEL engine option is set to play a crucial role in winning higher sales in Britain for Toyota's Previa multi-purpose vehicle.
Development engineers are adapting the 2.0-litre common rail unit fitted to the Toyota Avensis to give the king-size model greater appeal to fleet buyers. With a higher specific output than the 110bhp saloon and estate version, the direct-injection D4D motor is due to go into production next March.
Noticeably less bulbous than its predecessor, the sharper-styled Previa now has a 2.4-litre variable valve motor under its bonnet. It is coupled with front-wheel drive in place of the previous amidships and rear-drive layout and feels all the better for it. Though slightly smaller overall, the five-to-eight seat model is actually even more commodious for passengers and luggage, yet still manages to drive much like a limousine. The car's neater appearance conceals a longer wheelbase, which promotes excellent ride comfort and helps provide a particularly relaxed cruising demeanour. This is not sporting transport, of course, but for its size, handling is neat and it can be hurried through bends without embarrassment.
Claimed to set fresh standards in ease of entry and exit, the well-trimmed bodywork offers increased headroom despite its lower, more attractive stance. But a check on the flexibility of the three-row passenger accommodation soon showed that removal and refitting of the Renault Espace-style seats was a tricky operation.
Switching to front-drive allows a lower floor height for increased interior space, and the new engine is a smooth performer, but needs to spin at relatively high speeds to give of its best. The car's new five-speed manual gearbox wins full marks for precision and a positive linkage, but while the four-speed automatic option is also impressive, the dash panel selector lever tends to limit knee room in the low ratio position.
Standard across the range are anti-lock brakes, twin airbags and electronic brake force distribution. Electric operation for windows is also fitted to every version - a surprising refinement in a car with sliding rear doors - and the CDX sets the pace by boasting satellite navigation as part of extensive basic equipment. A CO2 emission figure of 226g/km for the manual means that under the benefit-in-kind taxation system set for 2002, a driver will be charged at 28% of the vehicle's list price.
'We want to sell between 2,500 and 3,000 examples of the new Previa in the 12 months after it is launched in July, but our aim is for the diesel option to take us well beyond this volume. It will add the finishing touch to an excellent package and we expect it to open up fresh opportunities,' said Toyota GB marketing director Paul Philpott.
'Since the first Previa arrived 10 years ago, we have sold 25,000 examples and achieved a high degree of success. But diesel power now accounts for 50% of all large MPV registrations and we can no longer afford to ignore this important sector of the market.
'I think the combination of eight-seat capacity, easy access to the rear through twin sliding doors and ample luggage space make a diesel version of this car particularly attractive in the courtesy bus and taxi sectors.'
Though they are likely to carry a premium, diesel versions of the Previa will continue the aggressively-competitive stance on pricing adopted for the petrol cars, which are claimed to have an advantage of up to 23% over rivals from Renault, Ford and Chrysler equipped to similar levels.
'Our new GS lead-in model has a lavish specification but is effectively £748 cheaper than the Ford Galaxy Zetec. The GLS is £1,200 cheaper than its predecessor despite having additional equipment worth £1,900 and we have cut the cost of the top CDX car by no less than £3,600.
'Manual transmission is available only on the lead-in car because we expect about half our customers to want automatic. We've worked hard to price this range against the mid-range Galaxy and Espace models, but we also set out to offer a full luxury version.
'This is the kind of high-value strategy that has just allowed Toyota to enjoy its highest yet first quarter business. Buyers are recognising our policy and we intend to continue to reap the benefits,' said Philpott.