Jap saloons/estates/minivans, what's good?

Jap saloons/estates/minivans, what's good?

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Pebbles167

Original Poster:

2,479 posts

114 months

Thursday 12th November 2020
quotequote all
Hi all.

I'll hopefully be looking to get another car sometime in the next few months, and with the likelihood of our family size increasing to four before too long, I could do with something a bit larger than my FN2.

I find the usual suspects a bit too common, ie: Audi A4/A6 and BMW 3/5 Series, so would ideally like something Japanese. A JDM model is appealing, although it doesnt have to be, if they were also sold in UK, such as the Legacy or IS250.

I keep looking at the Toyota Crown Athlete V, which with a budget of around £8k looks like it might be doable, and it fits the bill. Even something like an Alphard seems pretty cool. Other that what I've found on here, I'm unsure of what it's like, or what decent alternatives there are. Doesn't need to be especially fast, just something interesting.

Criteria? Loosely:

- 6 cylinder or higher, or Turbo 4, ideally,
- Petrol,
- Preferably automatic, not CVT,
- At least as big as a medium sized hatchback,
- 200bhp+
- Comfy, with some toys, media, TV, nav, etc,

No need for huge answers here, just a few pointers on what to look at so I can do some research. Would be happy enough to use an importer, or grab something already registered. I've had an import EVO III before, parts were easy enough to get for them, unsure if it'll be the same for other models.

Cheers for any help smile

Edited by Pebbles167 on Thursday 12th November 16:47

samoht

2,017 posts

108 months

Thursday 12th November 2020
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Some rarities:

Toyota Auris Blade Master-G (3.5 V6)
https://www.autocar.co.uk/car-review/toyota/auris/...

Toyota Caldina GT-Four (2.0T)
https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/toyota-c...

Mitsubishi RVR Sports Gear (2.0T)
https://www.japan-partner.com/Auto/22169/Mitsubish...


Axeboy

234 posts

82 months

Thursday 12th November 2020
quotequote all
Athlete V is a great car, £8k is way more than you need for one although prices have risen. I should have kept mine, super comfy, huge, not the best handling.

The later 3.5 v6 athlete would maybe be a better shout, prices for these are lower and you could import a decent grade lowish KM 3.5 Athlete for around £6k

There are loads of other choices, the JDM market love an auto, for example:

Nissan Laurel, Cedric and Gloria
Nissan Fuga (3.5/3.7 and 4.4) also available in 4x4
Toyota have the Mark II and Mark II Blit, the Blit is the odd estate version but cheaper usually
Crown Majesta with the 4.6 v8
Toyota Mark X might be worth a shout too

The list goes on really, loads of Toyota and Nissan saloons with v6's and auto. Some with 4x4 and some without.

Im sure TommoAE86 on here has the newer shape Crown and loves it, its where I'd be looking at the moment (in the process of my next import and these look great for the money)

As they will generally be 10 years old (or more) to import easily, the prices for most of these are relatively decent. However, anything manual and turbo will probably be silly money.

However, many will need the NAV swapped or changed over to something else if thats important to you



Edited by Axeboy on Thursday 12th November 19:49

samoht

2,017 posts

108 months

Thursday 12th November 2020
quotequote all
Toyota Century V12, why settle for less?
https://www.classiccarsforsale.co.uk/toyota/centur...


Landcrab_Six

2,222 posts

4 months

Friday 13th November 2020
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Just remember the TV and Nav. will be Japanese standard and language, so largely useless.

I think the Athlete system is quite integrated into the dash. The Alphard system can be ripped out and replaced with a modern Android / CarPlay unit.

£8k should get you a facelift 10-series Alphard with the RX300 V6 and 5 speed auto. Earlier cars have a 4 speed auto. Top gear is comparable, but the 4 speed has some big gaps in the ratios. I think they're around 220bhp. But they're 2 tonnes and have the aerodynamics of a brick, so don't expect miracles. Very comfy and great driving position, though - and easy to convert to LPG.

Elgrands similar, but a diesel is available - just watch for bits of cat. being sucked into the engine and killing it.

I really want a 20 series Vellfire, but the cost to upgrade doesn't work for me right now.

Pebbles167

Original Poster:

2,479 posts

114 months

Friday 13th November 2020
quotequote all
samoht said:
Some rarities:

Toyota Auris Blade Master-G (3.5 V6)
https://www.autocar.co.uk/car-review/toyota/auris/...
That definitely is very cool! Although it's good enough for its size, I'd like something bigger, as I went and saw my neighbours Auris this morning.

Axeboy said:
The later 3.5 v6 athlete would maybe be a better shout, prices for these are lower and you could import a decent grade lowish KM 3.5 Athlete for around £6k
Thanks for your informative reply. I think this is the best option, and I've been doing research and looking to see how available they are in the auctions. It's got most of the bits from the earlier crown that I like, and the 3.5 V6 is a good engine. I'll start speaking to some importers and seeing what can be done.

samoht said:
Toyota Century V12, why settle for less?
They are very awesome, so is the Nissan President, but I feel that although Toyota, and largely reliable, this will cost a fortune to run and service!

Landcrab_Six said:
Just remember the TV and Nav. will be Japanese standard and language, so largely useless.

£8k should get you a facelift 10-series Alphard
Thanks for the info, I was more just wanting the screen, for audio and stuff, as I rarely drive far anyway and phone nav is so good now. Unfortunately having looked at my garage and driveway, the Alphard wont properly fit! So will have to keep driving a car, at least for now.

Landcrab_Six

2,222 posts

4 months

Friday 13th November 2020
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The issue you may have with the screens is that it'll all be in Japanese with no option to change.

If you're looking at an Athlete, an Alphard or Elgrand will fit - they're shorter and narrower than a 5-series and around 1.9m tall.

TommoAE86

2,194 posts

89 months

Friday 13th November 2020
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As Axeboy says, I have a S180 Crown Athlete 60th Anniversary edition, I paid less than £6.5k for it and it had 84,000kms and was a grade 3.5 - TorqueGT did it all for me.

I've put into spoilers as I love this car and tend to get over excited and blab. thumbup Short summary - I love this car and have become obsessed with Crown's, I only want to buy another when it comes time to replace it.

++EDIT I realised I've gone overboard, no regrets - but I am going to go for a lie down now++ biggrin

Once lockdown is over and you're in striking distance of Southampton you're more than welcome to have a nose around mine no problem.

Tech specs:

Model: S180 (12th generation)
Chassis: GRS184
Engine: 3.5 V6 (2GR-FSE)
Gearbox: 6sp auto (A760E)
Power: 311bhp
0-62: 4.93
platform: Toyota N
economy; It's a Lexus - 25mpg (9.2km/l)


Features:
Xenon lights (which turn with the wheel)
Electric/heated mirrors
Electric windows
Heated seats
Sunroof (electric)
3 setting Memory seats
Automatic air con - with vents that swing!! biggrin
CD/HDD (20gb hard drive)
Mini-disk player - if you have any!
Multi function wheel
Cruise control
Stereo control in the rear-armrest


Ownership:
This is the flagship of the Toyota range (especially in Majesta spec) and shows it with so many toys thrown at it. It's very well made and everything is screwed together properly and all interior fixtures and fittings are well made/damped. It's not the last word in dynamics (it won't shame a M-car) but it acquits itself very well for a 1.6ton barge and has the ability to switch between wafting barge and sporty-ish saloon with the suspension/gearbox buttons pressed. It does have triptronic but that just tells the gearbox not to go above a certain gear, it will change down mostly on command, but the gearbox will hold gears all the way to the redline if in PWR mode. The performance still has me giggling after over 18months, it's so quick - if you want to play the game then it'll out accelerate most things underneath of a BMW 340i.
It's a car that I've had no trouble sitting in for long periods of time and again it does very well on long journies, my family went on a European road trip last year covering nearly 3,000km with zero fuss. We even saw 37mpg on the dash when on cruise in Holland, more domestically I got 32mpg on the way back from Cornwall (197 miles in just under 4hrs), but around town it doesn't do so well. Only issue is the dash does not do well with heat/cold cycles and cracks/splits - mine is particularly bad, no real solution other than replace or cover with a dashmat and is only a problem with this generation.
As they are a Lexus GS underneath all oily/suspension parts are easy to source/sort and garages should have no problems doing a service


Entertainment
This has it's own section because it does need it really, another bit of fun with the Crowns is that these can't easily be replaced. There are 2 options both involved Beatsonic kits. One is a VTR cable which means you can connect a phone to it and then the full conversion that puts a double din system where the cd/minidisc stacker is and you'll have 2 screens showing the same info.
You can leave it as is, it's what I've done. I have a phone mount for satnav and I use the CD player/Hard drive to listen to music along with a regular FM expander. Almost all functions will work except the satnav and some of the G-book (like a connected service) features, things like the calendar etc will work. Bit of fun - when you turn it on it'll tell you the date and time (in Japanese), it'll also wish you Merry Xmas and Happy New Year at the appropriate times too biggrin


Outside
Mine has the white pearl paint (code 062), and it looks amazing in the sunlight - it's the first white car I've seen that I like, out of the sunshine it just looks like a gloss white. Mine also came with an insanely rare K-break bodykit, but Toyota did do some factory aero kits as options.

Pictures:


Rear seats


Front


Pearl


My personal recommendation, if you are happy with the drawbacks on the S180 then it's the cheapest/newest balance you can have, especially for the performance. If not then I'd look to the 13th gen - the stereo issues still apply but I believe the dashboard is sorted. There is also a hybrid option if fuel is worry.


These are some I've found on goo-net;

Athlete 3.5
81,000km £7,600 (does not include the shipping/import work)
https://www.goo-net-exchange.com/usedcars/TOYOTA/C...

132,000km £5,200 (see above)
https://www.goo-net-exchange.com/usedcars/TOYOTA/C...

Hybrid G package 102,000km £6,400 (again no shipping)
https://www.goo-net-exchange.com/usedcars/TOYOTA/C...

Finally if you get as excited as I do then they do one with a supercharger for lots of money - though this one has only done 33,000km so £21k isn't too steep...
https://www.goo-net-exchange.com/usedcars/TOYOTA/C...


MDMA .

6,110 posts

63 months

Friday 13th November 2020
quotequote all

Pebbles167

Original Poster:

2,479 posts

114 months

Friday 13th November 2020
quotequote all
TommoAE86 said:
I have a S180 Crown Athlete 60th Anniversary edition, I paid less than £6.5k for it and it had 84,000kms and was a grade 3.5 - TorqueGT did it all for me.
Thanks a lot for the long and informative reply. I'm sold, I want what you have! biggrin

So my ideal package:

Toyota Crown Athlete GRS184
White or black
Black/marble interior
Cloth seats preferable
Grade 3.5+
Below 160,000km
Under £7k registered

I'll pm you shortly to potentially discuss more!

TommoAE86

2,194 posts

89 months

Friday 13th November 2020
quotequote all
Apologies for ignoring your "keep it short" op... as I said - get abit excited, forgot to say that beatsonic stereo solution is expensive iirc.

I would recommend TorqueGT, both my Crown and Skyline were so easy - just gave them the budget told them what I wanted and then it turned up.

4 trim levels for GRS184's, only the Athlete comes with cloth seats as far as I can see.
  • Athlete
  • Athlete Premium edition
  • Athlete G package
  • Athlete 60th Anniversary
33 GRS184's in the Japanese auction system at the moment so won't be hard to find what you want.

Have a play with goo-net, I've spent about 5 times any lottery win there laugh

Quick look just now these two white ones have cloth seats - both of these show the dash cracking above the glove box, mine is the same.
2005, 84,000km, £4.5k in Japan
https://www.goo-net-exchange.com/usedcars/TOYOTA/C...

2006, 40,000km (!!!!), £4.9k
https://www.goo-net-exchange.com/usedcars/TOYOTA/C...

Black 2007 Premium edition, 64,000km, £5.5k
https://www.goo-net-exchange.com/usedcars/TOYOTA/C...

Pebbles167

Original Poster:

2,479 posts

114 months

Friday 13th November 2020
quotequote all
TommoAE86 said:
Apologies for ignoring your "keep it short" op... as I said - get abit excited, forgot to say that beatsonic stereo solution is expensive iirc.

I would recommend TorqueGT, both my Crown and Skyline were so easy - just gave them the budget told them what I wanted and then it turned up.

4 trim levels for GRS184's, only the Athlete comes with cloth seats as far as I can see.
  • Athlete
  • Athlete Premium edition
  • Athlete G package
  • Athlete 60th Anniversary
33 GRS184's in the Japanese auction system at the moment so won't be hard to find what you want.

Have a play with goo-net, I've spent about 5 times any lottery win there laugh

Quick look just now these two white ones have cloth seats - both of these show the dash cracking above the glove box, mine is the same.
2005, 84,000km, £4.5k in Japan
https://www.goo-net-exchange.com/usedcars/TOYOTA/C...

2006, 40,000km (!!!!), £4.9k
https://www.goo-net-exchange.com/usedcars/TOYOTA/C...

Black 2007 Premium edition, 64,000km, £5.5k
https://www.goo-net-exchange.com/usedcars/TOYOTA/C...
Haha the keep it short was optional!

Is there much in the way of benefits to the premium, G package, and 60th? The cloth/velour seats are just a preference, but if I've got to skimp on other cool japanese toys and stuff if I want them, I'll get one of the other models.

What is goo-net? Is this the auction listings?

There is one for sale in UK on Ebay, other than the odd headlight lenses, does this seem legit? The sale of my R1 fell through today, so it'll probably be a few weeks until I'm in a position to buy now, and this may be gone, but I'm interested.

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/2005-Toyota-Crown-3-5L-...

The dash cracks above the glove box do seem common. What do you recommend to either sort, or hide it?

I've been told to budget around £3k on top of car price for an import, seem about right? If so, how are these cars so cheap?! Is it the equivalent of something like an older Merc or Jag over here?

Landcrab_Six

2,222 posts

4 months

Friday 13th November 2020
quotequote all
Really like those, prefer the earlier shape, but they're growing on me.

Personally, I'd only ever buy a fresh import, not one that has been pre-owned in the UK. But that's just me, I like to see them as they come in and look underneath before underseal is applied.

I'd also probably not buy one from Oldham. That has to be up there with Keighley for questionable car sales.

Pebbles167

Original Poster:

2,479 posts

114 months

Friday 13th November 2020
quotequote all
Landcrab_Six said:
Really like those, prefer the earlier shape, but they're growing on me.

Personally, I'd only ever buy a fresh import, not one that has been pre-owned in the UK. But that's just me, I like to see them as they come in and look underneath before underseal is applied.

I'd also probably not buy one from Oldham. That has to be up there with Keighley for questionable car sales.
Haha I didnt know that, but I've heard Keighleys reputation. The earlier ones are also great, I dont have a preference but prices seem a bit cheaper for the later ones.

I love the cool rear lights and interior on both. One of the things I like most on them.

Landcrab_Six said:
Alphard or Elgrand will fit - they're shorter and narrower than a 5-series and around 1.9m tall.
I knew of one parked on the road in my town. I got out on my R1 earlier and nipped by to have a look. You're right, its not quite as huge as I thought. More VW transporter size than Fiat Ducato size. After doing some thinking, the Crown will win out in this case. Both are funky quirky japanese vehicles, but the crown wins in performance. Whilst I need more space, itll be a family of four, so not needing huge space.

TommoAE86

2,194 posts

89 months

Saturday 14th November 2020
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Landcrab is correct on that ebay one - and the advert is in ALL CAPS which is another red flag, plus they are so cheap from Japan it makes sense to get yourself a minty fresh one imo.

Goo-net is like a Japanese autotrader but translated into English, it also provides an inspection and shipping service, however you'd have to pay the VAT and do all the work necessary for UK registration. It's very good to get an idea of the spec, age, mileage of car you can afford. Plus they usually have fairly good pictures. If you sign up to https://www.jdmauctionwatch.com/ you can view actual auctions which is free. If you go with TorqueGT they give you a login to the same thing but can filter by chassis code.

Looking at the spec comparisons I don't think you lose much other than maybe heated seats, cruise control (only goes to 68mph) and sunroofs if you go with an Athlete rather than the others. Personally I'd just find the one that's in your budget and go for it, there isn't that much difference between them.

Dash - no there is not really a fix - the top also goes. You can get them custom re-covered which I was quoted £1,200 - £1,500 to do both around the glovebox and the dash top. yikes I can't see the glovebox when I driving and I bought a $12 dashmat from aliexpress to cover the top laugh

Yes a max of £3k+ ontop if you use someone like TorqueGT to source one, but they will also do some of the extra stuff like basic spray what they can see underseal it, extra cavity spray is an extra £200 ish, along with all the other stuff so you just have to tax, fuel it & insure it when you pick it up and it's all done.

I reckon they are cheap because they were so popular when they came out there are loads, even the Japan police had them, they are now well over 10yrs old (Japanese shaken (MOT) is tough), and big engine which attracts big tax in Japan. Also they were apparently used by low level Yakuza hit-men and collection goons so have abit of a rep, but it adds to the appeal. Nothing untoward was found in mine apart from a bus map and the boot is a good 6 body size for family stuff wink

don logan

2,583 posts

184 months

Saturday 14th November 2020
quotequote all
samoht said:
Some rarities:

Toyota Auris Blade Master-G (3.5 V6)
https://www.autocar.co.uk/car-review/toyota/auris/...

Toyota Caldina GT-Four (2.0T)
https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/toyota-c...

Mitsubishi RVR Sports Gear (2.0T)
https://www.japan-partner.com/Auto/22169/Mitsubish...
If that’s the same kind of RVR I was given by Ralliart UK as a loan car around 2002/3 it was the funniest car I’d driven, I thought it looked awful, expected it to be awful, but it was a LOT of fun, its soft suspension made it seem even quicker!

Landcrab_Six

2,222 posts

4 months

Saturday 14th November 2020
quotequote all
I really want one of these to convert to a camper - but they seem to be going up in price, sadly.

https://www.japan-partner.com/Auto/19769/Mitsubish...


Trevor555

2,541 posts

46 months

Saturday 14th November 2020
quotequote all
Landcrab_Six said:
I really want one of these to convert to a camper - but they seem to be going up in price, sadly.

https://www.japan-partner.com/Auto/19769/Mitsubish...

[Img]https://www.japan-partner.com/images/4261c23ef2/--d4592184ec.jpg[/thumb]
I had an older version years ago as a fishing wagon.

It was really good off road.

Do the later ones have the same 4wd system?

I could be tempted back into one.


Landcrab_Six

2,222 posts

4 months

Saturday 14th November 2020
quotequote all
Trevor555 said:
I had an older version years ago as a fishing wagon.

It was really good off road.

Do the later ones have the same 4wd system?

I could be tempted back into one.
I believe they're related to the Outlander, rather than having Shogun based 4wd.

Trevor555

2,541 posts

46 months

Saturday 14th November 2020
quotequote all
Landcrab_Six said:
Trevor555 said:
I had an older version years ago as a fishing wagon.

It was really good off road.

Do the later ones have the same 4wd system?

I could be tempted back into one.
I believe they're related to the Outlander, rather than having Shogun based 4wd.
Ok, thanks for that, I was about to do some research.