Australia's vast road network played a key role in the development of the 2022 Toyota LandCruiser 300 Series, unveiled yesterday.
"I drove the LandCruiser 200 [Series] around Australia – home to 80 per cent of the world's roads – and realised two important things," Mr Yokoo said at the vehicle's release.
"First, I was deeply moved by how much everyone loves the LandCruiser. The other was that it was much more tiring to drive than I expected."
"When travelling on corrugated surfaces or dirt roads, or the seemingly endless Stuart Highway, you have to pay constant attention to how the car handles," he said.
"This was also the motivation for developing the all-new LandCruiser as an easy-to-drive car that won't cause driver fatigue."
The chassis of the new LandCruiser 300 Series is said to be 20 per cent more rigid than the outgoing model, while being 200kg lighter, thanks to cutting-edge laser welding techniques developed for the vehicle.
Suspension geometry has also been revised with more upright shock absorbers, while the company's Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System has moved from a hydraulic set-up in the outgoing model to a new electronic version, now called e-KDSS.
The anti-roll bars (also known as sway bars or stabiliser bars) reduce the amount the body roll during corners at speed, but are decoupled from the suspension by the e-KDSS during off-road driving to allow far greater wheel articulation. This means more traction during four-wheel-driving.
It's understood early prototypes used to test suspension, chassis, and the new powertrains were fitted with 200 Series bodies to help avoid unwanted attention.
As the 300 Series shares very similar dimensions with its predecessor, it allowed Toyota engineers to conduct the development of the new model entirely unnoticed.
Later prototypes, complete with near-production-ready bodies wrapped in camouflage, were tested within the confines of secure facilities – including, CarAdvice understands, at a proving ground located only 1.5 hours from Melbourne.
It wouldn't be until 14 January 2021 when a LandCruiser mule was first spotted on public roads in Japan. The prototype was covered with heavy vinyl camouflage to hide key details.
Despite Toyota only announcing two engines for the 300 Series overnight – a 3.5-litre twin-turbo petrol V6 for overseas markets and a 3.3-litre twin-turbo diesel V6 for Down Under – in early February 2021 another test vehicle was spotted in Russia, with detailed photos revealing the model had a hybrid powertrain fitted.
It's expected the hybrid version of the petrol V6 will be offered at a later date, and will likely feature in the twin-under-the-skin Lexus LX four-wheel-drive when it is eventually unveiled.
"In our quest to make LandCruiser tougher and more capable than ever, we have taken feedback from customers from around the world," said Toyota Australia Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Sean Hanley.
"This includes extensive input from Australian owners who have experience in some of the world's harshest environments."