Have you ever hoped of being inside a palatial drawing-room on wheels, with all the bells and whistles you could imagine? Well, the Toyota Vellfire is exactly that, and more . . .
People love all kinds of cars. Some of us love a fast, loud car, while others love the silence of an electric motor. There are those who enjoy shifting gears manually (as it should be done), and, then, there are those who like automatic shifts. Now, given increasing urban traffic and congestion, I sometimes dream of owning a nice, big car where I could relax in the rear seat, while a chauffeur takes care of driving through harrowing urban traffic. And if you share this dream with me, then there’s good news for you – your prayers have been answered by the kind folks at Toyota.
The Vellfire is – for the lack of a simpler term – simply a palace on wheels. It has one clear objective – to keep its occupants in utmost comfort. Now, unlike typical MPVs that we’ve seen in India in the past, the Vellfire’s design is rather striking. Whatever you may call it, it certainly isn’t boring. The huge front end, with its snub-nose design and oodles of chrome on the front, gives the Velfire a very mean presence on the road.
The sides, of course, feature huge doors and a large glasshouse, which makes the interior feel quite airy. Like the front, the rear end, too, features lashings of chrome along with clear-lens taillights. If there was one aspect of the design that I thought was odd, it would have to be the 17-inch alloys, which look a tad garish in their hyper chrome finish.
Another highlight of the Vellfire is its powerplant. Now, Toyota is a global leader when it comes to hybrids, so it’s not surprising to see that the Vellfire will be launched with a hybrid engine and gearbox combo. The engine is a 2.5-litre petrol unit, which is paired to two electric motors, one on each axle. Since Toyota doesn’t provide combined power outputs of the engine and motors, for those keen on knowing, the engine alone produces 115bhp and 198Nm of torque, while the front and rear electric motor supplement it with another 141bhp and 67bhp, respectively.
Most of the time only the engine and the front motor are used in tandem, while the rear motor kicks in only when extra grip is required – Toyota calls the setup E-FOUR (Electronic 4WD). In fact, the Vellfire also has a pure EV mode, but you have to be really gentle on the throttle because even the slightest prodding at the pedal can wake up the petrol engine.
The Vellfire features both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto – a first for Toyota in India – which can be controlled via a 10.0-inch touchscreen. It also features LED head and tail lamps with cornering function. For the comfort of occupants, the Vellfire features 3-zone climate control and two sunroofs. The real highlight of the Vellfire, though, is the second row, which not only is immensely spacious but also has reclining seats that are some of the best we’ve ever seen.
With individual seat controls mounted on the armrest of each seat, you can move the seats, put up the powered leg rests, and even heat and cool the seats. And with the seatback fully extended and the leg rests raised up, it’s very close to being a flat-bed seat that you usually find in the business class of a luxury airliner. And since you’re seated so far back in the cabin, you even get a dedicated 13.0-inch roof-mounted screen, which can be controlled via its own remote.
Also, the front and rear doors are quite huge, which means getting into the front or the second row is a breeze. Despite the big size of the door, though, getting into the 3rd row is still a tricky process. Once in, though, there is enough room on offer to easily accommodate three adults. But, since the Vellfire is just short of 5 meters, with all three rows in use, there is virtually no room in the boot, which is probably the only criticism I can offer. The third row is quite flexible, though, and the split seats can be folded and also mounted sideways like they can be done in the Innova.
Now, one thing that we didn’t get much time to explore was the driving aspect of the vehicle. Our driving route was limited, and so was the speed, at the test track in the Toyota factory. So, I can’t tell you much about the driving experience it offers, however, what I can tell you is that the Vellfire is exceedingly comfortable, has very low NVH levels, and, with all the doors and windows closed, the noise insulation from the outside is very impressive.
The only fly in the ointment, then, is going to be the Vellfire’s pricing. Sure, it offers a brilliant experience, but will customers pay over 80 Lakh for a Toyota? That’s probably going to be the biggest challenge, and the question is – whether the Toyota brand is premium enough to command that kind of price. But, then, you can’t expect a drawing-room on wheels to be cheap, can you now?
The bold, in-your-face design of the Vellfire means you can’t mistake it for any other vehicle.
- Toyota Vellfire
Engine: 2,494cc / 4-Cylinder / Hybrid
Transmission: E-Four (Electronic 4WD)
Engine Power: 115bhp @ 4,700rpm
Engine Torque: 198Nm @ 2,800 - 4,000rpm
Electric Motor Output : Front: 141bhp Rear: 67bhp
Battery Type: Nickel Metal Hydride
X-factor: With its imposing look and palatial feel, the Vellfire is by far the best MPV in its class to be chauffeured around in.
• Space, hugely comfortable seats
• Hybrid means less pollution
Also read - Toyota Vellfire launched at Rs 79.50 lakh