Vroom. That’s a car word isn’t it? Yes, we’ll go with that; welcome to my superb new blog. Now, many of you will recognise me as your esteemed Deputy Politics Editor, but not only do I do politics and stuff, I love a bit of driving. Alas, when thinking about a blog to write, motoring was the first thing that came to mind. And, seeing as there is pretty much nothing on campus about cars, I thought, “why not?” So, sit back and enjoy the ride (sorry).
Over the past few years, the world’s formerly largest car manufacturer has not exactly had the best time of it. The financial crisis and subsequent recession hit every car manufacture hard, but Japan’s biggest exporter, Toyota, has suffered more than most. In addition to the financial struggles, there were the outrageously exaggerated recalls which cost the company a fortune. Finally, there was the Japanese tsunami of 2011 which again caused significant problems. It’s not been the best year.
Is this thus a story of a company in decline, then? Absolutely not. Despite its setbacks, Toyota remains one of the world’s largest companies and continues to produce public-pleasing, if not enthusiasts’, cars.
That is, until now. Toyota has just confirmed its summer release of the GT-86, which harks back to the old days of the Celica, a car which was loved by people who loved driving. With a 2.0 litre, 200bhp non-turbo charged engine, this car is directed at people who want fun, not fast lap times.
It does make a significant change to what we have seen over the past few years. With disgustingly dreary products like the Auris, which sold so badly they considered changing the name back to Corolla (an idea now thankfully abandoned), the Avensis (the fleet manager’s dream) and the famous person’s favourite car, the Prius. Toyota have developed a reputation for producing the reliably unexceptional in frightening numbers.
However, Japanese craft and engineering skill has shone through now and again. The iQ is a fantastically packaged little car, and the Aygo is a much underrated product. Couple this with the brutal popularity of the Land Cruiser range, and a resurgence of the Hilux model after some not insignificant Top Gear plaudits, then the company looks to be in better shape than one would imagine.
I do like Japanese cars. Nissan, Mazda, Subaru et al produce some exceptional cars. They are something refreshingly different from the German model of “ZIS MUST BE PERFECT IN EVERY WAY. AND PREFERABLY GREY EVERYWHERE.” And with Toyota and Subaru’s joint effort on the GT-86 and the BRZ, the future looks bright for the re-invasion of the Japanese.