Genba Commitment to Ever-Better Cars Makes the Impossible Possible


The new Century's chief engineer and chief designer continue to share the inside story of development, delving deeper into the model's "inheritance and evolution."

A meticulously crafted entry and exit

The prime example of how Tanaka and Sonoda’s development team added new value to the Century through evolution is the roomy and functional rear seat space, catering to the changing needs of today’s VIPs who favor minivans as their personal cars.

To create the rear seating, Tanaka investigated what exactly such users value about the space offered by minivans.


From the overhead clearance to the legroom, we made the rear seats as spacious as any in a minivan.

In terms of functionality, the two independent rear seats feature power leg rests and can recline up to 53 degrees without needing to slide forward.

Or the seat can be moved forward for a full recline, akin to flying first class.

The front passenger seat is set up to slide further forward to secure additional legroom for the left rear seat.

In developing the seats, the team strove for a high degree of cushioning while providing ample posture support. To achieve ideal seating comfort, they produced ten times as many prototypes as for a regular vehicle.


While other cars have a similar profile, I think what sets the new Century apart is the way the interior combines space with function. This was our intention in setting out to build a chauffeur-driven car, but I believe it was made possible by Toyota’s design approach, which makes the most of every tenth of a millimeter.

The armrest (center console) between the rear seats also houses a table large enough to accommodate a 13-inch computer.

The rear windows and quarter windows employ privacy glass with a light control function, turning into smoked glass at the touch of a button. This creates a tranquil space by allowing in soft natural light while offering privacy from the outside world.


As already mentioned, today’s VIPs might want to work on the road or relax and recharge before their next business engagement.

We strived for spaciousness and functionality that satisfies both needs, whether as a mobile office or a precious place of respite.

Given that the rear seating serves as the rear passenger’s interface with the car, above all we wanted to make this space comfortable.

The development involved careful attention to every last detail, while incorporating new technologies and ideas.

When it comes to getting in and out of the vehicle, Tanaka and Sonoda say they were meticulous about ensuring graceful movements. Generally, minivans are thought to offer easier access because of a higher seating position compared to sedans. In reality, however, the second row of seats is set relatively far back, requiring passengers to duck down as they enter or exit the vehicle.


For the new Century, we made sure that the packaging and design allowed for graceful, elegant movement when entering or exiting the vehicle, as befitting notable figures in the public eye.

We achieved this through repeated testing of everything, including the wide-opening doors, the generous height of the openings, seat and grip positioning, the sweeping cabin floor, and the height and width of the power steps that provide easier access.


We also involved female staff in the design process to ensure that women wearing a kimono or high heels could enter and exit the car gracefully.