If you’ve been following our Instagram, you should be aware that I went to Japan for a whole week. It’s my entire life’s dream to go to this amazing, fun, and dynamic country. There’s so many things I like about Japan. I like Japanese cuisine (washoku) the most. I also like JDM, and I also like Japan’s culture as a whole, including their anime, media, history, and their cutting-edge technology. So for someone who loves Japan so much, it’s pretty normal for me to be sleepless the night before leaving the Philippines. One of the places I’m very excited to visit is Toyota’s Mega Web, located in Odaiba, a large, well developed artificial island smack in Tokyo Bay.
Newly Launched: Toyota Sienta
The first thing you will notice when stepping inside Mega Web is how vast the landscape is. Mega Web is not only an ultra large car dealer. Mega Web is also a small indoor theme park, with many of the ride catered towards kids. For those who think of Toyota as a boring brand (including myself), it’s a completely different landscape here in Japan. Many car enthusiasts know that currently, there’s an ongoing renaissance in Toyota’s corporate culture, injecting fun and excitement into their products, which spawned the development of the Toyota 86, now being followed by a future sportscar premiered as a concept called the Toyota FT-1. This renaissance is first strongly felt in Japan, through their JDM exclusive cars, such as this newly launched Toyota Sienta. To some people, it’s polarizing to look at, but personally, I like how fun and cheeky it looks.
Toyota City Showcase: The Cars
The Toyota City Showcase is the main exhibition hall of the brand’s entire line-up, sorted in different sections called the WELCAB, E-Lounge, Waku-Doki Zone, and the Global Discovery Zone. We are fond of associating Toyota with a boring image, but seeing these cars in this exhibition hall, you begin to ask, why isn’t Toyota offering these amazing cars outside Japan.
Since there were so many cars on display at the Toyota City Showcase, I only photographed those that really captured my attention. Other cars in the exhibition hall include the Toyota Camry Hybrid, Toyota Corolla Axio and Fielder, Toyota Aqua (Prius C), Prius Alpha (Prius V), and more Toyotas that I couldn’t remember because their entire line-up is on display (more than 60 different cars as a matter of fact).
The Toyota Harrier is a midsize crossover. Unlike before, the Harrier is now unrelated in any sort of way to the Lexus RX, and completely relies on Toyota’s new MC Platform, in which the RAV 4 was the first to utilize. It is powered by either a 2.0 liter petrol engine, or a 2.5 liter hybrid system, both mated only to a 7-Speed CVT.
The Toyota Sai compact hybrid is also known in the USA as the Lexus HS 250h. Where in the USA the HS was a failure, the Sai was successful in Japan. I honestly prefer the Sai as a Toyota rather than a Lexus, since I see Lexus vehicles to be more catered to global tastes and not entirely distinctively Japanese.
The Toyota Noah line-up is one of Japan’s best selling vehicles. Whereas the world is diluted with crossovers, Japanese remain more traditional, preferring MPVs over pseudo-SUVs, thanks to their space saving design and roomy interiors, literally bento boxes on wheels. I’ve always had a soft spot for Japanese MPVs, and so the Noah line-up kept me interested. There are three distinct variants, the standard Noah, the sportier, more youthful Voxy (Black), and the more luxurious and premium Esquire (White).
In the European section of the Toyota City Showcase, the Toyota iQ and Auris are present. While the iQ is a tiny little car, if the driver’s seat is set in my driving position (I’m 178 cm for reference), 3 full-size adults can still fit inside, the fourth seat, meanwhile, being useless with the driver’s seat set to my ideal position, and for the reason alone, the iQ is one of the best examples of Japanese engineering. The Auris, meanwhile, has just received a facelift, sporting Toyota’s new Keen Look and Under Priority design language.
The Toyota Mirai is Toyota’s answer to the future of mobility. Whereas Tesla is pushing the technology of batteries, Toyota thinks hydrogen fuel cell mobility is the future, since hydrogen is a renewable resource. True fact, but currently, the challenge of hydrogen is how to extract it both sustainably and cost effectively. The Toyota Mirai’s hydrogen fuel cell stack is converted into electricity, charging the car’s battery pack. Basically, the hydrogen’s purpose is to generate electricity to charge the vehicle and be able to power it. Toyota claims that since it emits water, the car’s H20 emissions are so clean, you could drink straight from the exhaust pipe, though of course, we wouldn’t recommend doing that.
Toyota City Showcase: WELCAB
A JDM experience wouldn’t be complete if you weren’t able to see and witness the WELCAB accessories of Toyota. These accessories are designed to aid PWDs, senior citizens, and the likes, in accessing the vehicle with ease. Japan has a large percentage of senior citizens, and it’s very lovely to see the Japanese brands doing their part in making the lives of these people a whole lot easier.
Toyota City Showcase: E-Lounge
E-Lounge is where Toyota’s more luxurious offerings are displayed, and for this month, the Toyota Crown line-up dominates the floor, because the Crown line-up is celebrating its 60th anniversary. When I first saw the photos of the all-new Toyota Crown, I initially thought it looked ugly, but now, I find it sporty and aggressive, particularly the Crown Athlete variants. Upon seeing these Crown Athletes in person, this car also instantly became one of my favorite cars ever. The Crown line-up is what I believe represents the true epitome of JDM. The Crown is only sold in Japan and China, and seeing it in person gives me the feels of a shogun tucked inside a suit. Being based on the sporty and athletic Lexus GS, the Crown, especially the Athlete variant, will surely be a hoot to drive on a mountain pass going up Mount Fuji. All Crowns are hybrids, either powered by a 2.5 liter V6 hybrid system, or a 3.5 liter V6 hybrid system, mated to either a 6-Speed Automatic or an 8-Speed Automatic. The more opulent variant of the Crown line-up, the Majesta, is also on display.
Smack in the middle of the E-Loung exhibit is the famous Toyota Century. Don’t let the looks fool you. It may look old school, but it is as every bit as high tech as the Toyota Crowns surrounding the car. Since its introduction in 1967, little has changed in the car’s sheet metal. Underneath the hood of this car is a 5.0 liter 1GZ-FE V12 engine. Because of a gentleman’s agreement between the Japanese automobile manufacturers in 1989, no car made and sold in Japan should produce beyond 276 hp, until 2005 when the pact was dumped. While the 5.0 liter V12 engine was quoted to produce 276 hp, sources indicate that its true horespower is actually 310 hp at 5,200 rpm, and the torque figure is 481 Nm at 4,000 rpm, but more than 400 Nm of torque is already produced as early as 1,200 rpm. This legendary luxury sedan is the official car of Japan’s Prime Minister, Sinzō Abe.
At the side of the E-Lounge are a pair of Toyota Alphards. I always had a soft spot for the Toyota Alphard. When this new third generation came out a couple of months ago, I was polarized by its design, but the look eventually grew on me, and I eventually considered the Alphard once again my most favorite large luxury van. It looks authoritative and sporty, and not only through its looks. The Toyota Alphard now dumps its inferior rear torsion beam suspension, in exchange for a more sophisticated double wishbone rear suspension, which not only improves the ride quality, but also its handling for more stable cornering. Meanwhile, a Toyota Land Cruiser is displayed at the back of the E-Lounge.
Toyota City Showcase: G’s
Toyota G Sports (stylized as G’s) is one of a few of Toyota’s performance and tuning divisions. More than just a set of body kits and visual enhancements, Toyota G’s also adds extra chassis bracing, stiffer suspensions, and other performance components. G’s is more in line with handling enhancements rather than all out towards acceleration and top speed. Customers can buy a complete G’s car, or buy the parts a la carte. Clearly, the Toyota Prius G’s on display isn’t you mama’s Prius.
This Toyota Mark X is one of my particular favorites. It may look sedate and anonymous, but it’s a capable midsize sports sedan. Unlike your daddy’s Camry, this Mark X is rear wheel drive, and combined with the fun-to-drive renaissance that’s currently ongoing inside Toyota, the Toyota Mark X is one of my instant favorites in Toyota’s Japan-only line-up. The Mark X is powered either by a 2.5 liter VVT-i with D4 direct injection V6 or a 3.5 liter VVT-i V6 with D-4S direct and port injection, mated only to a 6-Speed Automatic. Does the 3.5 liter V6 sound familiar? Yes, it is the same engine from either the Lexus IS 350 or the GS 350, both sporty names in the Lexus line-up. There’s also a Toyota Harrier G’s on display.
Toyota City Showcase: Waku-Doki Zone
Waku-Doki is Japanese for intense adrenaline rush. Here in the Waku-Doki Zone, you will experience Toyota’s fun and exciting side. TRD, Modellista, Gazoo Racing, and all of Toyota’s other sportier and exhilarating side is on display here.
The Gazoo Racing Garage displays the exact Lexus LFA that was used in the Nurburgring 24-Hour Endurance Race in Germany, and a Gran Turismo simulator enables you to experience what’s it like to race in the real world. The Toyota iQ tuned by Gazoo Racing and the Toyota Mark GRMN by Gazoo Racing is also on display.
In the TRD corner, two Toyota 86s are present, one with a bodykit by Modellista, and the other with TRD kits and performance parts, and near the Rookie Cafe, the famous Toyota 86 Style CB that aims to create a more premium version of the 86, is also on display.
Toyota City Showcase: Global Discovery Zone
The Global Discovery Zone is a display of Toyotas from around the world that changes every month. For July, the Global Discovery Zone is showcasing Toyotas exclusive to the North American continent, such as the Toyota 4Runner, Tacoma, Tunda, and the USDM versions of the Toyota Camry and Corolla.
Ride One is Toyota’s test track. Customers and fans can experience the dream Toyota they’ve always wanted to drive, provided that you have a Japanese license or an international license if you are a foreigner. Toyota’s entire line-up in Japan is at your disposal, so if you’re unlike me and you either live in Japan or have an international license, feel free to test drive the Toyota you’ve always wanted to drive.
Ride Studio is where kids can experience what’s it like to operate a vehicle. A Toyota Pius developed specifically for kids 6 to 9 years old is lent to children to experience the fun of driving at the indoor track. A smaller scale of Toyota’s Ride One is available for pre-school children to experience driving their favorite small-scaled Toyota.
Because we were chasing time, we didn’t have time to visit their History Garage, located separately from Mega Web’s main building, at the other end of VenusFort mall. History Garage contains some of Toyota’s greatest creations, including the 2000GT, the AE86, MR2, and the likes.
Whenever you are visiting Japan, and you are a car enthusiast, a visit to Toyota Mega Web is definitely a must. The whole place is pretty fun and pretty cheeky, especially considering the amount of activities your kids can experience, but, if you are fortunate enough to have an international license, you can experience the Waku-Doki side of Toyota by trying out their cars at the Ride One test track, or if you are a tuning enthusiast, a visit to the Waku-Doki Zone is certainly a must for you, as you will get to see the famous tuned cars from Gazoo Racing, TRD, and the other performance arms of Toyota.
I definitely had fun in my whole stay in Japan, and I wish to come back to this amazingly fun country. The vibrancy of their car culture and basically their lives make me want to come back for more. If you are interested to visit Toyota Mega Web, the facility is easily accessible by taking the SkyHop Bus using the Odaiba Route. The bus stops at the VenusFort mall, in which Toyota Mega Web is integrated. Because there are so much cars and so much activities in store inside Toyota Mega Web, it is advised that you should dedicate one whole day to experience this fun and awesome theme park.
Visiting Japan? Excited to know more about Toyota Mega Web? Just visit their website at www.megaweb.gr.jp in which the site’s About page can be viewed in English. Do note that not all rides are available if you are unable to speak or read Japanese since some rides don’t have English instructions or instructors.