I probably should’ve started the ‘Tokyo Drifter’ series with the Mega Web as it’s possibly the most obvious motoring “attraction” in Tokyo. Better late than never I suppose. So what is ‘Mega Web’? Think of it as part showroom, part Toyota theme park and that sort of explains the basic idea of it. However if you come here hoping to leave with a brand spanking new car, you’ll be disappointed. They don’t actually sell cars here.
It’s a good idea because you can get to be up close and personal with Toyota’s latest cars without a pesky salesman hovering around you. So even if you’re considering buying a Toyota vehicle or not, it’s a good experience to get familiar with the cars. And they literally have the entire range there from the minuscule iQ to the Land Cruiser 200 and Hiace van. Of course there were some models, which for reasons beyond my knowledge, we don’t get in NZ.
I suppose the most interesting one was the Mirai, Toyota’s vision of the future of motoring. The hydrogen fuel cell vehicle was in a little special are on its own. Interestingly, they had both the production and concept cars on display. Speaking of eco-cars, the full Prius family were there too. The Toyota Sai, a hybrid-only front-wheel drive executive sedan, is one of Toyota’s bolder designs though it’s been around for a few years now.
An Asia-only model I’d like to see exported is the Mark X. With the G’s kit on it I think it looks the business, if not a tad boy-racerish. Underneath it’s pretty much a Lexus IS so it’d drive as well as it looks. Interestingly, the Mark X is roughly the same size as a Camry – which is only sold as a hybrid in Japan. So while the rest of the world gets the Camry, Japan has this for themselves.
Then there’s the Crown, a nameplate that might be familiar to those who remember a time before colour. The Crown was sold in NZ for a while but was replaced by the Cressida. Paying roughly $60,000 for a posh Toyota sedan might sound absurd but as the Holden Commodore and Ford Falcon will soon cease production, it might be wise for Toyota to bring this big, rear-wheel drive sedan to fill that gap in the market. After all, the Crown is pretty much Japan’s Commodore as it’s used as a taxi and as ministerial cars.
If you want luxury and space, the Alphard/Vellfire luxury people carriers might be of interest. That is, unless you live outside Asia because this is another car Toyota desperately need to export. They’re roughly the size of an average NZ house and have seats taken straight from the first class cabin of a Japan Airline’s A380. Okay, small exaggeration there but the optional captain’s chairs are very comfortable. It almost seems like a waste to use this as a family car.
I’m not going to go through the entire Toyota range because frankly there are more choices than a Starbuck’s menu but all the bases are covered. Sitting in the back of a Century was quite an experience though. I recommend doing so with ‘Battle Without Honour or Humanity’ playing in the background for that full Yakuza feel.
When you’ve had enough of sitting in Toyota cars, the Mega Web offers many other activities to keep you entertained. On the second floor, as well as having a ‘foreign Toyota section’ where North American Toyotas are displayed, there’s also the Gazoo Garage. Here you’ll find TRD and Gazoo cars alongside Toyota’s Le Mans 24 Hour racecourse, including an LFA. While you’re here you can also get a go in a Gran Turismo 6 simulator. You’re only allowed 5 minutes but you do get to drive a Toyota 86 around Suzuka, which is always fun.
They also have a pod/capsule simulator thing for eco-driving. The aim is to get to each checkpoint under the time limit but using the least amount of fuel. The problem is, the car you’re given is a Prius. And the simulator also simulates crashes so that’s quite the dilemma. Because its a Prius, crashing it seems like the ideal thing to do but if you that then you get jolted around in the simulator. It’s a good psychological test.
If you’re there at the right time, 2pm to be exact, then you can also get to have a go on Toyota’s version of the Segway. I haven’t been on them myself as I’m usually there much later than 2pm, which is the only time there’s an English instructor, but they seem like a lot of fun. Elsewhere there’s a ‘Smart Home’ which is Toyota’s idea of home living in the future. Apart from a smartphone which you speak commands into, it looked much like an Ikea model home.
The Ride One studio allows children of all ages to have a go in driving a car around a track, albeit indoors. They have all sorts of cars from electric ones to ones you can build yourself before driving it. It’s a great idea of getting young children interested in cars, which is a growing issue in Japan where there youth are becoming less interested in cars. A problem for a country with a big auto industry.
Big kids haven’t been forgotten because what really brings people to the Mega Web is Ride One. With Ride One you can drive any of the 70 available Toyota models on display, including the Mirai, on a special 1.1 kilometre track next to the Mega Web showroom. You’ll need an international license/Japanese license to be eligible to drive, so come prepared. It’s recommended you make reservations online in advanced as they can get quite busy.
Mega Web is a great way to spend a couple hours. It’s located in Odaiba, which is about 20 minutes on the monorail from Tokyo. It’s an interactive and thoroughly fun way of doing car stuff that’ll appeal to petrolheads and non-petrolheads alike. It also is a great way of making Toyota seem a lot more fun and interesting. A couple other manufacturers have followed Mega Web, so this could be the future of car showrooms. If so, count me in!