By Steve & Tami Laser
As frequent travelers to Japan, we’re always amazed at the variety of minivans we see on the roads. One of the most popular is the Toyota Noah, which is also sold as the Voxy. Our relatives in Kyoto own a Noah and we enjoyed riding in it during our last visit to Japan’s ancient capital. Toyota has introduced a more luxurious version of this compact van dubbed Esquire.
With its bold front fascia and huge chrome-laden grille, Esquire is instantly recognizable as something special. Now on sale at Toyota and Toyopet dealers across Japan, this luxurious van is ready to transport up to eight passengers in luxury and style.
The video above highlights Esquire’s development process (sorry, no English subtitles). Tatsuo Takazawa of Toyota’s Design Division and Tomohiko Funakoshi of Toyota Body Design explain the concept for creating the ultimate luxury van.
The team researched design elements that make the greatest visual impact and discovered that an oversized, three-dimensional grille sets the stage perfectly for expressing modern style.
Designers tried several different grille approaches with both thin and thick bars that reflect light differently. Thus, two different grille designs are available as shown above and in the second video.
While the remainder of the van’s styling is similar to Noah and Voxy, additional chrome trim is applied to the beltline plus a thick rear chrome garnish rests above the license plate pocket.
The cabin receives the luxury treatment with bright trim on door panels and dashboard, and brown or burgundy upholstery with contrasting stitching. Three chrome rings surround instrument cluster gauges while the steering wheel is trimmed with leather and wood.
Like its Noah and Voxy siblings, Esquire offers flexible seating configurations for seven or eight passengers with second-row captain’s chairs that slide 810 mm and third-row seats that fold up for carrying long and oversize cargo like bicycles.
Esquire’s powertrains include a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder gas engine with front- or all-wheel drive plus a gas-electric hybrid with 1.8-liter Atkinson-cycle engine, electric motor and nickel-metal hydride battery pack located under the front seats. A Super CVT-i transmission (shown above) is standard.
[Photos and video from Toyota Motor Corp. Japanese Newsroom]
Story ©2014 CarNichiWa.com