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Toyota has made a new taxi for Japan

Ready for the 2020 Olympics, it's a far cry from a hydraulically doored Crown

Meet Japan’s new taxi. If Toyota has its way, anyway. It’ll be launched in time for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, and the idea is it gives Japan a new taxi icon, one to rival London’s black cab and New York’s yellow taxi.

Which suggests the current Nissan Cedric and Toyota Crown saloons, with their net curtains, doily seats and hydraulically opening back doors, aren’t icons. Something we’d beg to differ with.

Anyhow, this one is definitely more forward thinking than those Eighties-esque saloons, with an LPG-hybrid powertrain, power-sliding rear doors (for better wheelchair access) and lots of new safety tech, including anti-crash stuff and curtain airbags. There are even LED seatbelts for when it’s dark and/or you’re drunk.

It’s taller, more roomier and it’s even painted in koiai – aka dark indigo – a colour intrinsically linked with Japanese culture, though you can have other hues if you like. It’ll cost around £20,000 and is designed to last the same five-year/500,000km life cycle that a Japanese cab typically withstands.

As well as move locals around, Toyota wants it to put tourists in the “Japanese mindset”, and to inspire new “Japan enthusiasts”. But is something that resembles a taller, techier (and less black) black cab the way to do that? Or will you miss the old Cedrics and Crowns if they’re replaced by these?

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