The all-new Toyota Vellfire is even more luxurious and refined than its predecessor, but towkays could experience sticker shock upon seeing its price.
“Quiet luxury” is trending now because consumers are growing tired of goods with brand names prominently splashed across them. Ostentatious displays of wealth are out and being understated is in.
If quiet luxury is your thing, then the latest Vellfire Hybrid is the people-mover you’re looking for. It has oodles of space, offers even greater refinement than before and comes with numerous driver assistance technologies as well.
And though it might not seem like it at first, this is an MPV for the well-heeled who wish to remain low-key.
SIZE AND STYLE
Now, you’re probably wondering how Toyota’s latest full-sized MPV, which is now being positioned above the Alphard (it used to be the other way around) can be considered ‘understated’, especially after seeing its massive shiny grille.
Yes, it adds bling. But without it, the Vellfire would have looked too ordinary. If the shiny bits were painted in the same body colour, the styling would seem off.
Grille aside, there’s not much else that the designers could have done to disguise the Vellfire’s dimensions. It is over five metres long (5005mm), spans 1850mm wide and stands 1950mm tall.
However, thanks to the “three-dimensional single-strike cabin silhouette”, the Vellfire doesn’t look so slab-sided, since the shoulder line has a kink and a curve to it. The 19-inch wheels that mostly fill the arches were the right move, too.
Apart from these, the Vellfire does not have a “Look at me! Me!” vibe. Even the rear is tastefully executed, with the only shiny bits consisting of a chrome line to emphasise the car’s width, and an extended “Vellfire” badge below it.
Even the buttons to open/close the tailgate are camouflaged – you’ll need to look closely to notice them below each tail-light.
The Vellfire’s swanky cabin, on the other hand, is immediately obvious from the moment the doors slide back to reveal the interior. Two plush captain’s chairs immediately beckon you to make yourself at home. Not that you need convincing in the first place.
As your bum settles onto the soft squab, feelings of calmness and excitement begin to arise. On one hand, you’re tempted to close your eyes, but on the other, you want to check out the other amenities.
Above is the aptly named Super-Long Overhead Console, which apart from providing illumination, also houses controls for the Side Shades and Roof Shades, along with a selector for the ambient lighting colour.
If looking up tires your neck, you can access these functions and get a massage by using one of the Detachable Touch Display remote controls. These smartphone-like devices will be indispensable, especially as you use them to recline your seat and extend the Ottoman leg rest. Any time can be nap time when you have the best seats in the house.
Now, even if you’re not the boss and are ushered into the third-row seats, this is hardly a bad place to be in. The surfaces are also cushy and there are armrests for both occupants. But any third/middle passenger will feel awkward, as there’s no proper squab. Well, at least you’re accompanying the boss/es and breathing the same rare air.
Although the Vellfire’s cabin excels in providing relaxation, it’s just as good at livening up the mood. Turn up the volume on the JBL audio system and you can fill the space with your favourite party tunes. Perhaps Toyota should offer a ‘Club Package’ that includes a chiller, disco ball, strobe lights and a smoke machine.
SOFTNESS AND SERENITY
The best seats in the house are the captain’s chairs, but that doesn’t mean the cockpit received less attention, for the driver won’t be slumming it in this MPV.
Soft materials adorn most surfaces, from the doors to the dashboard and the centre console. Digitalisation is the name of the game, so the instrument cluster’s layouts can be varied, while the infotainment system is identical to the one in the current Lexus RX models. Interacting with said system is via the 14-inch touchscreen, which among other things, lets you adjust the climate and tweak the driver assistance features.
Speaking of climate, the front seats have ventilation and heating. The latter is certain to be handy on rainy days (or perhaps to soothe achy muscles), given Toyota’s wintry air-conditioning.
The space is practical and user-friendly, too. Cupholders above the outer air vents glide out when pressed, while the commodious storage point in the centre console easily takes everything from fat wallets to tablets to small purses. The lid can also be opened from either side, which is a neat trick that other carmakers should copy.
Piloting the Vellfire Hybrid seems daunting at first, but if you have any experience driving big vehicles, you’ll discover that it’s not that hard. The steering and suspension have been tuned to make the big MPV feel more responsive and precise than before. With a stiffer chassis and body, the damping is made more compliant as well, leading to a soft ride.
Now, this isn’t to say that the Vellfire is a cinch to manoeuvre. It is relatively easy for its size, but rear-axle steering would have been a neat standard addition.
On the go, the 2.5-litre in-line four and electric motor make a great combo. Punching out 247bhp, the hybrid powertrain gets the 2.1-tonne MPV from rest to 100km/h in 9.4 seconds.
Hard acceleration is the car’s enemy though. Nailing the accelerator will lead to the unwanted CVT drone and your bosses giving you a dressing down when the car comes to a halt.
On the topic of brakes, the Vellfire stops well considering its mass and the feel is linear. However, with passengers onboard, the stopping distance further increases, hence the need to take it easy. Besides, the MPV is engineered to cruise – taking it on a road trip would be quite relaxing.
Toyota quotes a combined consumption figure of 17.2km/L, but over three days in conditions that were 70% stop-start and 30% expressway, I averaged 12.4km/L. Considering the size and weight of the Vellfire, it’s to be expected.
LOW-KEY SERIOUS EXPENSE
The Vellfire Hybrid is arguably one of the most comfortable (if not the most comfortable) full-size seven-seater MPVs on the market today. It will even give the about-to-be-launched Lexus LM serious competition.
Now, even with all its amenities and refinements, you’re probably wondering who would spend $415,888 (correct at time of writing) on a hybrid MPV that’s not from a premium brand.
The Vellfire Hybrid’s essence is that of quiet luxury. Grille aside, it’s not showy and doesn’t claim to be anything that it isn’t. It’s for someone who wants to ferry his family in comfort without telling everyone he can drop over $400k on an MPV. Here, ostentatious displays of wealth are out and being understated is very much in.
Toyota Vellfire Hybrid Elegance 2.5 (A)
ENGINE 2487cc, 16-valves, inline-4, hybrid
MAX POWER 188hp at 6000rpm
MAX TORQUE 239Nm at 4500rpm
ELECTRIC MOTOR Permanent magnet synchronous
MAX POWER 180hp
MAX TORQUE 270Nm
TOTAL SYSTEM OUTPUT 247hp
POWER TO WEIGHT 113.8hp per tonne
0-100KM/H 9.4 seconds
TOP SPEED 180km/h
CONSUMPTION 17.2km/L (combined)
PRICE INCL. COE $424,888 (after $15k VES rebate)
AGENT Borneo Motors Singapore