TOYOTA GRANVIA CHASING PASSENGERS BIG TIME

Toyota_Granvia_frontDescribing the Toyota Granvia as a mere replacement for the Tarago is selling both vehicles short.

The Tarago people mover came to Australia in 1983 as basically a van with windows and seats. Seven years later the revolutionary ‘egg-shaped’ model broke ground here and soon became a popular fashion leader in the people mover field.

However, 36 years later, families appear to have forsaken the Tarago-type people mover in favour of the big seven-seater sports utility vehicle. Needless to say, Toyota is on to it.

The Granvia has come calling with capacity (six or eight seats), quality cabin and advanced safety systems that take the vehicle into modern minibus territory.

Toyota Australia Vice-President Sales and Marketing Sean Hanley says the new Granvia is aimed at high-end hospitality, family and corporate buyers who would appreciate the Granvia’s sense of style, cabin comfort and premium features.

“The Granvia is an all-new vehicle from the ground up and as a premium people mover it provides private and corporate customers with the highest levels of safety, comfort, and luxury features that they demand,” he says.

Toyota_Granvia_interior

Available in two specification levels – Granvia and Granvia VX – the entry-level six-seater comes to market for $62,990, plus on-road costs, while the range-topping VX six and eight seaters share the $74,990 price tag.

All share the same engine, a 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbocharged diesel, mated with a six-speed automatic transmission. The eight-seater base Granvia was on test.

STYLING
Style is probably not the right word to use for the Granvia. From the front, with its robust radiator grille, the Toyota is the Kenworth of people movers. To say it has an imposing presence is an understatement. It’s a beast.

Slab sides, with large windows and sliding doors, and square rear, with big glass, are out-and-out minibus. However, 17-inch alloy wheels and flashes of chrome add an air of luxury, as does LED head, fog and tail lamps, plus daytime running lights.

INTERIOR
Only the best will do for the big end of town, so there’s plenty of space for passengers. Six-seaters have four individual captain’s chairs with armrests, reclining backrests and a sliding function of more than 500 mm for easy access and ample leg room.

The eight-seater test vehicle had a fourth row two-seat 60:40-split bench that folded and flipped up to offer increased load space and versatility. VX grade occupants get four captain’s chairs along with driver’s seat all power-operated, with the rear seats incorporating a power ottoman leg rest, adjustable headrest and solid armrests, all finished in quality quilted leather-accent upholstery.

Storage up front is impressive, with a large central lidded box, glovebox, cupholders, storage trays and door pockets that can take an A4 folder, and a 1.5-litre bottle in a designated holder.

INFOTAINMENT
Rap or Rachmaninoff: Granvia occupants are able to enjoy quality sound from a six-speaker Pioneer audio system, while a central 7-inch touchscreen displays information for satellite navigation, AM / FM / digital radio, CD player and multimedia system.

This latest-generation system also features full Bluetooth connectivity, voice recognition, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, and USB and Auxiliary sockets.

ENGINES / TRANSMISSIONS
All variants are powered by a 2.8-litre four-cylinder, turbodiesel engine producing 130 kW at 3400 rpm and 450 Nm between 1600 and 2400 rpm.

The common-rail direct-injection engine uses a high-boost turbocharger with an intercooler and exhaust gas recirculation cooler.

The engine is mounted forward of the front axle and drives the rear wheels though a six-speed automatic transmission. A manual sequential mode can be activated using the shift lever.

The engine is fitted with a diesel particulate filter. If engine usage is not able to regenerate the DPF automatically, a switch is provided to carry out the process manually.

SAFETY
As a people mover destined to transport high-end travellers, the Granvia has an equally high duty of care when it comes to safety. Hence nine airbags (driver and passenger front, front side, front and rear side curtain, driver knee).

The latest in Toyota Safety Sense includes a pre-collision safety system with pedestrian detection (day and night) and cyclist detection (day only); high-speed active cruise control; lane departure alert; road sign assist; and automatic high beam.

Other advanced safety features include blind-spot monitor, rear cross-traffic alert, front and rear parking sensors, reversing camera with guide lines and panoramic view monitor.

DRIVING
Grab handles make it easy to step up into the two front seats. However, out the back, the amount of effort needed to alter the seating arrangements, or open and close the hatch could be a challenge to all but the fittest. The VX version is blessed with power operation.

The Granvia is a dichotomy: it’s easy to drive yet can be hard to live with. The 2.8-litre turbodiesel ticks over with little fuss in traffic but needs a little attention due to its lack of performance when about to overtake.

There’s no argument with the motor’s smoothness and lack of noise, vibration and harshness. Little can be heard or felt inside the passenger cabin.

To help reduce noise and improve fuel consumption uses a high-boost turbocharger with an intercooler and exhaust gas recirculation cooler.

It is also fitted with a stop / start system that temporarily stops the engine when the vehicle comes to a halt, helping to deliver a combined urban / highway cycle fuel consumption of a claimed 8 litres per 100 kilometres.

At more than five metres long and almost two metres wide, with 12 metre turning circle, the Granvia can be a handful. Lane departure alert does not allow much lateral movement within a lane before it intervenes, sometimes unnecessarily in what can be described as irritating.

The hunt for a parking spot to fit at the shopping centre can be frustrating. No such problem at the front entrance to a five-star hotel, I suspect.

The Granvia is covered by Toyota’s five-year unlimited kilometre warranty. Or 160,000 kilometres if used for commercial operation.

SUMMING UP
Fit for purpose best describes the Toyota Granvia – ‘purpose’ being the movement of up to eight people in comfort and safety. Best leave it to the professional, a chauffeur, perhaps.

AT A GLANCE

MODEL RANGE
Toyota Granvia (6 seat) $62,990
Toyota Granvia (8 seat) $64,990
Toyota Granvia VX (6 seat) $74,990
Toyota Granvia VX (8 seat) $74,990
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Toyota dealer for drive-away prices.

SPECIFICATIONS (Toyota Granvia 2.8 litres, in-line 4-cylinder, 16-valve, DOHC common-rail direct injection turbo-diesel people mover)

ENGINE:
Capacity: 2.755 litres
Configuration: Four cylinders
Maximum Power: 130 kW @ 3400 rpm
Maximum Torque: 450 Nm @ 1600-2400 rpm
Fuel Type: Diesel
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 8.0 L/100km
CO2 Emissions: 211 g/km

DRIVELINE: Six-speed automatic

DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 5300 mm
Wheelbase: 3210 mm
Width: 1970 mm
Height: 1990 mm
Turning Circle: 12 metres
Kerb Mass: 2660 kg (8 seats)
Fuel Tank Capacity: 70 litres

BRAKES:
Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Ventilated disc

STANDARD WARRANTY:
Three years / unlimited kilometres

About Derek Ogden

On graduating with an honours degree in applied science in London, Derek Ogden worked for the BBC in local radio and several British newspapers as a production journalist and writer. Derek moved to Australia in 1975 and worked as a sub-editor with The Courier Mail and Sunday Mail in Brisbane, moving to the Gold Coast Bulletin in 1980 where he continued as a production journalist. He was the paper's motoring editor for more than 20 years, taking the weekly section from a few pages at the back of the book to a full-colour liftout of up to 36 pages. He left the publication in 2009.
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