Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
Our Rating: 1
Toyota Cresta X50-X60 series (1980-1984)
The first Cresta was introduced April 1980
and was available exclusively at the renamed Toyota Vista Store (formerly Toyota Auto Store) sales channels across Japan, joining the recently introduced Chaser. The Cresta was positioned as a high-level luxury sedan just below the established, traditional luxury sedan, the Crown
. The sales goal of the Cresta was to provide buyers with a luxury sedan, but not incur expensive Japanese taxes for exceeding dimension regulations - so the Cresta was limited to an engine size at 2000cc as well as dimensions under 4.7 metres (15.4 ft) long, 1.7 metres (5.6 ft) wide, and 2 metres (6.6 ft) high.
The Cresta was introduced with halogen headlights to provide a modern European appearance, and was available with a full range of luxury amenities and conveniences. The SOHC 2.0 litre M-EU engine was used with an automatic transmission
only, which was shared with the Crown, as well as the 2.0 litre 1G-EU straight six engine, also used in the Crown. Trim levels used names meant to suggest luxury overtones, such as Super Lucent, Super Touring, Super Deluxe, Super Custom, and Custom, names that were similarly used on the Crown. Upper level trim levels used two-tone paint schemes to further the Cresta's elevated status towards a younger demographic.
Initial reaction on the Japanese market after the Cresta was released in April 1980
was exceptional, it sweeping the sales chart in the medium luxury car arena. For its time it was a good looking car, and the first medium/large Toyota in a long time which could truly be described as stylish. For too long the Toyota 'big' cars have been staid, even dowdy. Not so Cresta! Its European lines and refined styling set it apart from any other car in the model line-up from Toyota and the obvious attention paid to styling had achieved a design which appeared small from the outside but which had the interior room of a far bigger car.
Weight-savings (and thus improvements in economy) were achieved by increased use of lightweight materials and the obvious decrease in sheet metal areas due to the low waistline and bigger glass areas. However, the greatest weight-saving was achieved under the bonnet! The top power plant in the model line-up was a 2.0-litre, OHC, fuel-injected six cylinder. This engine, a totally new one for Toyota, was 40 kg lighter than old M-series six cylinder engines which Australians had been used to seeing in the Cressida and Crown models. There was also a 1.8 litre four available.
The small capacity six - and it was small - in fact weighed in under the Sigma 2.6-litre four-cylinder engine, which back in 1980
had the reputation of being one of the lightest engines then available. The Toyata engine is extremely smooth, a result of the six very small-bore cylinders, and with fuel-injection it's incredibly responsive. It was also very quiet. The engine met Japan's stringent requirements easily, although being able to use unleaded fuel and catalytic converters did of course make quite a difference. However, with the ability to fine tune fuel injection more easily than normal carburetion, the problems of meeting emission requirements was overcome.
The easy power from the engine was transmitted to the wheels through either a five-speed manual gearbox, or a three-speed plus electric overdrive (four speed) automatic transmission. Under normal conditions the gearbox changes smoothly with little between-shift bump. The automatic overdrive switched in on top gear at about 3000 rpm (redline 5800 rpm), but could be locked out for city driving. Flooring the pedal resulted in sharp, jerky changes from the auto but it was not uncomfortable. Shifting manually (with the auto) allowed for good off-the-line performance and there was little engine noise even when revving right out to the limit.
Two Suspension Packages
The Cresta was available in two different suspension packages - one a typically soft Toyota sedan package which was suited to heavy stop/start traffic driving around the city, and their were probably others who preferred it due to the poor quality constantly-under-repair metropolitan roads. Some things never change. For those who wanted to spend a bit more time on the freeway there was a much firmer sports package available. The changes were made by fitting coils with heavier spring rates and by some slight adjustment of the shock absorber valving. Suspension was, of course, independent all round.
On the Inside
In terms of trim and equipment the Cresta was definitely an up market number aimed fairly and squarely at the junior executive set. Full instrumentation was provided, including tachometer. Air-conditioning and a light responsive power steering were standard in the top line model along with a full component stereo system and cruise control with onboard computer. Seating was excellent - the front buckets comfortably contoured with lumber adjustment for the lower back. The car offered plenty of legroom both front and rear, even with the front seats right back. The heavy velvet velour trim was comfortable and versatile, and along with extensive attention to sound proofing, created an interior environment which was remarkably quiet.
Even at cruising speed there is little or no intrusion of road or wind noise and it was obvious to road testers of the time that the design and styling teams had paid a lot of attention to aerodynamics. In the fuel economy stakes, the Japanese engines returned around 10 litres per 100 km in a combined country/city driving cycle and six litres per 100 km at a set 60 km/h. And while the engine was not about to set any performance records, it was no slouch either. The small-capacity six provided some of the answers to Toyota's general lack of sparkling performance evident in just about every other of their 1980 lineup - or at least, in what they were offering to most export markets, such as Australia.
On home soil, Toyota offered a tremendous variety of vehicles covering the whole range of cars from small four cylinder sports to the huge V8-powered super luxury limousine which was built in limited numbers for a select and small group of companies, and government departments. But the Crown was not without competition. For example, Nissan
had the wonderful Laurel. Nevertheless, the new luxury approach was well received with buyers. In August 1983
, Toyota chairman Eiji Toyoda initiated the F1 project ("Flagship" and "No. 1 vehicle"; alternatively called the "Circle-F" project), a clandestine effort aimed at producing a world-class luxury sedan for international markets. This led to the creation of an all new, full size luxury sedan designed for export markets - particularly the US. A L
port to the US
. Or, shortened, LEXUS.
Toyota Cresta X70 series (1984-1988)
The X70 series was introduced March 8, 1984, with styling cues shared with the platform sharing Mark II, with the Cresta continuing to offer a hardtop bodystyle, while the Mark II remained a sedan. The X70 series continued to enjoy the popularity enjoyed by the first generation Cresta. Power side view mirrors were now installed western style at the leading edge of the front doors instead of on the front fenders above the front wheels to provide a more modern appearance, and retracted electrically for confined parking spaces.
The 2.0 litre diesel engine used in the first generation was upgraded to a 2.4 litre displacement. Styling upgrades were introduced in 1985
, with a twin turbo 1G-GTEU introduced October 1985, with trim level designation GT Twin Turbo. As a result of the twin turbo introduction, the M-TEU engine was no longer offered. Foglights imbedded in the front bumper were made standard equipment, with a minor styling upgrade August 1986
. Also in 1986
, the Cresta saw a new competitor from Honda
, the Legend
Toyota Cresta X80 series (1988-1992)
The third generation was introduced March 8, 1988
. with a transition away from straight edges previously used by Toyota products of the period. The top-of-the-line model, called the Super Lucent G included a supercharger equipped 1G-GZE engine. The 1JZ-GE and 1JZ-GTE were shared with the Chaser. Special anniversary trim levels were introduced May 1990
, with a body refresh introduced later that year.