Toyota Land Cruiser V8: First drive!

Toyota's fantastic on-off roader is here and ZigWheels' Adil Jal Darukhanawala gets first crack at the wheel of what is truly a terrain tamer par excellence. Unfussy, simple and understated it is the strong silent type which invariably and inevitably bests the rest. Shame therefore that it would be used more on than off-road where it truly belongs.



It finally had to happen and did so this Tuesday in Mumbai. I am referring to the official advent of what is generally acknowledged as the world's most accomplished on-off roader, the Toyota Land Cruiser V8. Make no mistake about it, this is no spruced up tiny Prado which we have been getting in petrol engined form for the better part of a few years. The Land Cruiser V8 is the real Mojo, the big daddy of mud-pluggers, dune-demolishers, wadi-bashers, gradient crawlers, etc, etc apart from also being an accomplished road runner as well.


Toyota Kirloskar always had the big Land Cruiser penciled in for India but in typically thorough Toyota-esque product planning style, this took time, so much so that the more moderner European (sorry read that as German) SUVs leapfrogged it on to the Indian market. SUVs like the Audi Q7, the BMW X5, the Mercedes-Benz ML, the Porsche Cayenne and the Volkswagen Touareg are already on sale and have done impressively well by being chauffeur-driven behemoths for the well heeled. Of course much the same would be in store for the Land Cruiser but that would be a crying shame because in essence it is the last remaining SUV of its genre with genuine capability across all sorts of terrain and armed with a refreshing blend of traditional body-on-chassis approach coupled with tonnes of high tech running gear.








The model which was launched this Tuesday is the eighth generation Land Cruiser and if it were not for its awesome capabilities it would have just been a lump of lard. This Land Cruiser is huge (almost 5 metres long and two metres wide), heavy (2555 kg - kerb weight) and hits the others where it hurts. Factor in a zero to 100km/h acceleration time of 8.2 seconds and a 210 km/h top whack you can see how surreal this can get. However, everything quite falls into place once you get this big momma of a SUV strutting her stuff once you get it off tarmac and not just on silly loose gravel but on truly challenging terrain where normal boulders, deep ruts and gullies, grille-deep streams and impossible gradients are taken in stride with utter disdain. All this while the pilot and the other occupants bask in comfort, with not a bead of sweat being whipped up!


Styled like a brick





There is something about a butch looking SUV and the latest Land Cruiser is in traditional turn-out with beefy bulging flanks and straight cut lines which stand out and want to be counted, er admired! Toyota says that its styling theme for the latest Land Cruiser adopts its contemporary 'Vibrant Clarity' design philosophy. The rugged aura which the Land Cruiser has, both at standstill and when turning a wheel, is mighty. The large expansive grille flanked by those equally huge multi-dimensional headlamps on either side is distinctive in its traditional manner. The large wrap around front bumper incorporates large rectangular secondary lamps on either side. The flanks are noticeable for their near equal glazed-to-sheet steel surfaces and the rear end is marked out by the split tail gate with its unique clamshell design and those proportionately large LED tail lamp clusters. A simple V8 logo on the lower right of the tail gate indicates what lurks under the hood.


A key detail on the new Land Cruiser are the very short overhangs front and rear, with a maximum approach angle of 31 degrees and a maximum departure angle of 23 degrees. Key in a 24 degree ramp break angle and what you get is designed capability to tackle the toughest and most demanding surfaces and terrain.








Everything on the Land Cruiser is huge, from the large lightly raked windscreen to those huge door mounted rear view mirrors and on to the massive wheel arches filled with 285/60 R18 Yokohama Geolandars wrapped around gorgeous five-spoke 20-inch alloys. Unlike some of the more stylized European SUVs, the Land Cruiser comes across almost like an armoured carrier if not a battle tank but given the alacrity with which it sprints and performs, it is a good thing that the vehicle comes with Active Height Control which is not just about raising or lowering the ride height but also provides a degree of spring rate control.







Giving an idea of the proportions of the Land Cruiser, it measures 4950mm front to rear, is seriously wide at 1950mm and has an overall height of 1865mm. The wheelbase is a whopping 2850mm while the front track measures 1640mm while the rear measures 1635mm. Amongst rivals, only the Nissan Patrol bests it in the bulging stakes, slightly larger in length and having a longer wheelbase but what are a few millimeters when it is excess all areas? And to cap it all, Toyota claims a 0.35 co-efficient of drag even with a vehicle with such a large frontal area. Daft or impressive, it all seems to be par for the course.