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Old 29th December 2012, 03:42   #1
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Default A review of my Toyota Premio (ex-Japan)

Disclaimer

This is my first ever thread on TBHP.
While I have taken every effort to put up a report that does justice to a beautiful vehicle, it's natural to have fallen back on a number of areas, especially technical, as I am no expert. I therefore request your pardon and will be glad to take any suggestions that will help enhance my posts in future.

I hope you enjoy this piece. If all goes well, expect an African safari travelogue covering Masai Mara, very soon

A review of my Toyota Premio (ex-Japan)-01.jpg

A Background

JDM – Japan Domestic Market; consists vehicles that are designed (to be used) exclusively for Japan.


Nairobi, often-dubbed “City in the Sun” is a clean, green and pleasant city to live and drive in. People follow lane discipline, good clearly marked roads (free from two-wheelers) for the most part, horns rarely put to work and traffic rules respected. Much like the way our Western brethren ride, albeit on the inverted side of the tarmac.

Enter traffic-jams: the greatest source of vexation for motorists in this Kenyan capital. Bad bad jams. Every working day. The kind that make footing 20 kilometers feel quicker, unless your leather seat seems cushier than the couch back home, for 2 hours. Or more, you never know.

These insane traffic jams are attributed to the enormous number of vehicles that roll on to the road each day, all thanks to affordable but competent used JDM-specific CBU imports. That’s not saying brand new off-the-factory cars aren’t available, but are comparatively pricey. The used imports should not be anymore than 8 years old (government regulation). Majority are around 3-4 years old, ship in near-mint condition, highly reliable and good to go for another decade at least. Before being shipped, the cars are bought back into the OEMs from their first Japanese owners Japan and given a major makeover – mostly cosmetic, plus a few essential mechanicals, depending on each individual car’s condition. They are then shipped off.

How it came to be

Circa April 2010
Nairobi, Kenya.


Our good ‘ol 2001 Mitsubishi Lancer (also a JDM) had clocked around 110000 km and still justly went about its chores without major snags, save for a few minor issues (weary cabin controls and dimmed out console lighting) per se. At my dad’s company, plans had just been incepted to replace all cars of its’ generation, as per protocol, with newer ones. However, for us an immediate replacement wasn’t in the books, or so we thought, since the Mits was a tad newer than the other vehicles in line (Sprinter E110s and Sunny B14s to name a few).

Winter was just setting in in Nairobi (late April) with the mercury averaging at 17 deg C. Pleasant it was for all but the Mits. The car stalled; twice the same week. The rear door became permanently jammed. And the battery fell regularly into an affair with some imaginary snooze button. An assiduous service at the garage might have put it back in shape, but better was to come. In the following week, the car was surrendered to the office for an interim vehicle, until a new car was bought for us. The two-week replacement was a Toyota Corolla E120 (pictured below). Simultaneously, a batch order for three Toyota Premios, a Toyota Allion and a Prado was placed.

A review of my Toyota Premio (ex-Japan)-03.jpg

Buying the car – May 2010

Week 1

In the last week of April, the five vehicles were selected from a batch of imports that were being shipped from Nagoya, Japan to the Kenyan port of Mombasa (Some scenes of RGV’s Company were filmed here). They were due onshore in about 3-4 days. The imports were on behalf of a car dealer, CarMax East Africa Limited, with whom the company placed regular orders.

Week 2

The car finally touched Kenyan shores on the 4th of May 2010 (happened to be my birthday too ). CarMax’s people at Mombasa handled all clearances. In all, I think it took about 2 days (not sure since I wasn’t dealing with them), which is rather quick, and so things must have progressed smoothly. The vehicles were then shipped to Nairobi along with CarMax’s other imports. I was told that they were shipped by road on a Mercedes Actros car carrier, containing 8 vehicles in total. The journey took roughly about thirteen hours.

Week 3

On a beautiful cold morning on the 10th day of May, the vehicles were delivered to the customer i.e. at the office. By afternoon, our Premio had completed with inspections from the office’s transport division and was off for registration, insurance and other formalities. Post registration, the car spent a day to get it’s body raised, given a thorough wax polish and wash, and topped up on the lubricants at the service centre. It then went for fitting accessories, which were:
- Seat covers
- Car security system
- Tracking device
- High quality floor mats
- Statutory equipment i.e. warning triangles, tow rope, first aid kit, fire extinguisher

It then had the registration number etched onto the lights, window glass and chrome. This is common practice in-order to prevent them from getting sold in the black market after being plugged out by crooks. Naturally, the buyer wouldn’t want to posses a stolen product with identifiable markings.

On the 13th of May, after the formalities had been fulfilled, the Premio was handed over to us.

The car cost about US$13,000 on-road. Below is the detailed price break-up. I’ve included rupee conversions for your convenience.

A review of my Toyota Premio (ex-Japan)-screen-shot-20121214-10.55.31-am.png

The Toyota Premio X – T24 series.

Positioning

The Premio is a successor to the very successful Toyota Corona nameplate that ran from 1957 to 1996. From 1996, the eleventh (and last) generation, Corona got badged as the Toyota Corona Premio. Eventually, the Corona model was phased out and Premio spun off to an independent badge, coming out of shadows of the Corona brand.

The Premio is an upscale saloon slotted above the Corolla, offering an alternative to the Camry. It has a semi-identical sibling, the Allion that bears minor exterior changes and is a little smaller in dimensions. While the Allion looks sportier and youthful, the Premio poses as a more elegant and stately ride.

The Car

Our Premio is a 1st generation model manufactured in June 2006 in Japan, and is based on Toyota’s T Platform. Measuring 4600mm in length and 1470mm in height, the car has a commendable amount of road presence and butch that made heads turn, initially. Now, they’ve become very common.

The car had been registered first in June 2006 and deregistered sometime in March 2010. When we received it, the meter had clocked approximately 38,000kms. The car was in near-mint condition. There were absolutely no dents or scratches anywhere on the body. Draped in a light charcoal grey, the car looked fabulous. The dollops of chrome gleamed, and gave the car a striking effect.

That’s a thousand words already. I’ll now let the pictures take over.

Please all design works; looks stately.
A review of my Toyota Premio (ex-Japan)-06.jpg

Chrome; an Asian fascination.
A review of my Toyota Premio (ex-Japan)-07.jpg
A review of my Toyota Premio (ex-Japan)-13.jpg

Notice the "P" badge instead of the "T"; Separate logos for individual model is a Toyota-JDM tradition.
A review of my Toyota Premio (ex-Japan)-08.jpg

Fog lamps come standard
A review of my Toyota Premio (ex-Japan)-12.jpg

14 inch tyres look puny for the rear 3/4 bulk.
I think the swoosh on the rear door window frame/C Pillar a neat design touch.
A review of my Toyota Premio (ex-Japan)-09.jpg

A review of my Toyota Premio (ex-Japan)-15.jpg

A set of rear lights fixed onto the boot too
A review of my Toyota Premio (ex-Japan)-10.jpg

Rear wash and wipe standard
A review of my Toyota Premio (ex-Japan)-dsc01010.jpg

Notice how the badge has been reinforced to avoid being plucked out by crooks
A review of my Toyota Premio (ex-Japan)-dsc01007.jpg

Generous boot. Notice the padding on the door.
A review of my Toyota Premio (ex-Japan)-dsc01011.jpg

A review of my Toyota Premio (ex-Japan)-16.jpg
Attached Thumbnails
A review of my Toyota Premio (ex-Japan)-dsc01014.jpg  

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Old 29th December 2012, 11:52   #2
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Default Re: A review of my Toyota Premio (ex-Japan)

Wow that is quite a refreshing story. Provides new insights into used imports.

Hope such imports were allowed in India too. The over eager pricing standards will be more realistic if it ever happens.
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Old 29th December 2012, 12:23   #3
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Default Re: A review of my Toyota Premio (ex-Japan)

There was a similar plan by GoI to relax rules regarding used car imports but was opposed by many and was dropped. Manufacturers were the main adversaries then. The rules in force today are restrictive.

Last edited by rajeev k : 29th December 2012 at 12:31.
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Old 30th December 2012, 02:17   #4
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Default Re: A review of my Toyota Premio (ex-Japan)

Technically Speaking

In this respect, a Toyota is a Toyota. The vehicle has been going strong for the last two and a half years, clocking to about 78,000kms. While the ride quality is good, this is certainly not a driver’s car. Passenger comfort also falls well above the median. The cabin also feels very quite, thanks to good dampening.

The petrol power unit is an 1800cc 16 valve VVT-I with four cylinders. It produces a maximum power of 132ps at 6000rpm and a maximum torque of 17.3 kg*m at 4200rpm. It uses an electronic fuel injection system, drinking a litre ever twelve kilometers on average.

The transmission used is a Super CVT-i four-speed auto-box. The front wheels get ventilated disk brakes whereas the rear set gets drums. ABS and front side airbags, for passenger and driver, come standard.


Quote:
Originally Posted by revintup View Post
Wow that is quite a refreshing story. Provides new insights into used imports.

Hope such imports were allowed in India too. The over eager pricing standards will be more realistic if it ever happens.
Quote:
Originally Posted by rajeev k View Post
There was a similar plan by GoI to relax rules regarding used car imports but was opposed by many and was dropped. Manufacturers were the main adversaries then. The rules in force today are restrictive.
I'm actually glad that these imports did not find way into India.

If they did, though it's true that we would have gotten flooded with some good models, India would've been more like a dump yard for the Japanese.
Now, though a little slowly, we are building a major industry, millions of jobs, innovation, RnD, all thanks to the law that banned such imports
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Old 30th December 2012, 03:45   #5
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Default Re: A review of my Toyota Premio (ex-Japan)

In and around

Enter in and you are welcomed by a neat and well designed cabin. Ergonomics, though not spot on, are not far from getting there. Overall, the build quality of materials, and fit and finish is supreme for this segment.

Well designed cabin. Looks neat and pleasing
A review of my Toyota Premio (ex-Japan)-dsc01017.jpg

Climate control comes standard. No rear AC vents though!
A review of my Toyota Premio (ex-Japan)-dsc01018.jpg

Factory fitted ICE. Looks odd, however the audio quality is superior. 8/10
Cons: No MP3/USB/AUX IN. Takes Audio CD, Tape, AM/FM, TV Receiver
A review of my Toyota Premio (ex-Japan)-dsc01019.jpg

Satellite receiver. Sadly, incompatible in Kenya
A review of my Toyota Premio (ex-Japan)-dsc01524.jpg

Leftmost is the passenger seatbelt symbol. It uses weight sensors on the seat to detect presence of the passengers and lights up accordingly.
Snow defogger button to the right must be of JDM use, never used by us.
A review of my Toyota Premio (ex-Japan)-dsc01020.jpg

Signature Toyota fake wood. Looks good!
A review of my Toyota Premio (ex-Japan)-dsc01021.jpg
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Old 30th December 2012, 03:57   #6
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Default Re: A review of my Toyota Premio (ex-Japan)

Chrome handles. Front doors get tweeters too.
A review of my Toyota Premio (ex-Japan)-dsc01021.jpg

Autobox. Notice the absence of the handbrake
A review of my Toyota Premio (ex-Japan)-dsc01023.jpg
A review of my Toyota Premio (ex-Japan)-dsc01539.jpg

And voila, it becomes a pedal brake (above the dead pedal). Initially, kept mispressing it thinking of it as the clutch
A review of my Toyota Premio (ex-Japan)-dsc01022.jpg

Storage space, ash tray and lighter neatly tucked under the fake wood!
A review of my Toyota Premio (ex-Japan)-dsc01544.jpg
A review of my Toyota Premio (ex-Japan)-dsc01025.jpg

Wood continues till the bottle holder, that can hold two half litre bottles.
A review of my Toyota Premio (ex-Japan)-dsc01024.jpg

Dual zone storage space
A review of my Toyota Premio (ex-Japan)-dsc01029.jpg

Small glove box; can barely fit a 13" laptop
A review of my Toyota Premio (ex-Japan)-dsc01028.jpg

Auto retract mirrors
A review of my Toyota Premio (ex-Japan)-dsc01032.jpg
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Old 30th December 2012, 04:09   #7
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Yes you read right! All windows auto!!
A review of my Toyota Premio (ex-Japan)-dsc01033.jpg
A review of my Toyota Premio (ex-Japan)-dsc01036.jpg

Simple looking instrument cluster, easy to read!
A review of my Toyota Premio (ex-Japan)-dsc01037.jpg

Front and rear wash wipe control stalk
A review of my Toyota Premio (ex-Japan)-dsc01546.jpg

Door pads look plain. That dull grey is the original seat colour aswell.
But yes, even passengers get auto window.
A review of my Toyota Premio (ex-Japan)-dsc01044.jpg

Excuse the ill fitted seat covers. Not done by professional hands.
A review of my Toyota Premio (ex-Japan)-dsc01530.jpg

Handrest includes cup holders hidden by the cover
A review of my Toyota Premio (ex-Japan)-dsc01043.jpg

Equality of the sexes!
A review of my Toyota Premio (ex-Japan)-dsc01040.jpg

A subtle and neat design touch
A review of my Toyota Premio (ex-Japan)-dsc01525.jpg
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Old 30th December 2012, 21:01   #8
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Default Re: A review of my Toyota Premio (ex-Japan)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kwanza View Post
Nairobi, often-dubbed “City in the Sun” is a clean, green and pleasant city to live and drive in. Much like the way our Western brethren ride, albeit on the inverted side of the tarmac.
Nice to have an international ownership experience of a car not found in our shores although it might not be relevant to us. Also good to know more about the land and its characteristics which is good information for many of us.

In the same context was curious to know more about the 'inverted side' driving. That means the cars are RHD but drive opposite way as we drive or something different.

Also has this car been with you for over 2 years now and if so what has been the ownership experience in terms of maintenance costs (servicing, spares etc) and where do you get them serviced (Toyota dealerships or independent works) and any other interesting facts you can share about the automobile.
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Old 31st December 2012, 01:00   #9
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Default Re: A review of my Toyota Premio (ex-Japan)

Quote:
Originally Posted by girishglg View Post
Nice to have an international ownership experience of a car not found in our shores although it might not be relevant to us. Also good to know more about the land and its characteristics which is good information for many of us.

In the same context was curious to know more about the 'inverted side' driving. That means the cars are RHD but drive opposite way as we drive or something different.

Also has this car been with you for over 2 years now and if so what has been the ownership experience in terms of maintenance costs (servicing, spares etc) and where do you get them serviced (Toyota dealerships or independent works) and any other interesting facts you can share about the automobile.
Thank you!

What I meant was just that it's normal RHD vehicles in Kenya, just as we are used to in India, unlike LHD vehicles in the western world. I was basically highlighting the traffic mannerisms.

Yes, however I can't give exact details on the maintenance because:
1) It's taken care of/paid for by the company
2) I haven't driven it as I was underage, and am not permitted to drive since it's dad's company car
3) In the last 3 years, I've been pursuing my higher studies in India, now in Kenya on vacation.

However on observation, the car has developed some rattles mainly due to misuse by careless/multiple office drivers, over which we don't have much control. Maintenance is pricey, done by independent service company. For example, a single normal sevice costs equals to about 7000 Indian rupees.
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