Toyota has been trying to shed its bland image, a daring enterprise, considering the fact that most people like bland and do not read car blogs. Nowhere can you tell better that a company is committed to dump its blandness than with its approach to the archetypical blandest-of-bland segment, the minivan. Today, Toyota launched an all-new Sienta minivan onto the Japanese market. The minute it arrived on stage at the Bellesalle in Tokyo’s young and fashionable Shibuya district, it infused a serious dose of waku-waku, doki-doki into the usually jaded Japanese press. With the new Sienta, Toyota has a contradiction in terms, a cool minivan.
On the market since 2003 and basically only in Japan, it did its very best to bland into the background. In 2006, it received an already much-needed facelift, and it remained unchanged until 2010, when it was retired. In May 2011, the low-priced 7 seater was brought out of mothballs when Japan needed basic transportation in a hurry after the March 11th Earthquake and Tsunami.
After 12 nearly unchanged years, an all-new Sienta was launched today, with much stiffer bones, and a sporty design that manages to awake emotions, at least in people who are into this kind of transportation. Starting at 1,689,709 yen (13,900 USD, including consumption tax) the minivan competes with kei cars on price while delivering more space and a bit more oomph. In the gasoline version, a new 1.5b liter engine supplies 109 PS, a hybrid engine is also available. The heartbeat-ready minivan is made in Toyota’s TNGA pilot plant in Ohira, Miyagi prefecture. For full specs, go here. To buy, go to Japan.