After a lot of time I managed to 'extract' this from the Magazine. I used a program that I very rarely use, and the whole thing was a lot of trial and error. Anyway, The article may be of some interest to someone. I also have another larger article in a mag. that I hope to also Post.
YOU MIGHT see the Soarer either as Toyota's answer to the Lincoln Mark VII, or an expensive notchback version of the new Supra, but you can't ignore Toyota's new "luxury personal car", which quite simply elevates the Japanese state of the automotive art to a new plane. Offered for sale only in Japan, the Soarer is a virtual catalogue of the most advanced leading edge auto¬motive technology in the world, with a heavy accent on electronics. With the same basic engines and suspension components, the Soarer is a close cousin of the new Supra, but Toshihiro Okada, heading up the Soarer's development team, insists they are not sisters. The Soarer is 75 mm longer in the wheelbase, and the only shared non-mechanical parts are the front indicator repeaters. The big difference is in the Soarer's extensive use of electronics. In the suspension, for instance, the Soarer has the same double wishbones and three way dampers as the Supra, but for a top of the range model, adds a fully electronically controlled air spring system, with variable spring as well as damping rates. Each pneumatic spring has two separate chambers connected by two orifices, one small and one large. The air in each chamber is varied to take care of ride height and attitude control, while computer controlled variations in the orifice area modify the spring rate to suit different ride requirements. No matter how you drive it, the Soarer is designed to cope. Over coarse surfaces the air springs soak up irregularities with barely a jolt to disturb passengers. On smoother surfaces, the Soarer sails by like an ocean liner, prompting one colleague to report sea sickness. As the driver hots up the pace, though, he has the Option of a sport bias to the automated suspension's goings on, which stiffens things up, although even the range of adjustments offered by the air springs cannot keep the heavy car from heaving and pitching a little when hustled. Well controlled wheel movement ensures the chassis is predictable, however, and the previous car's tail waywardness at the limit is tamed, while initial understeer has been trimmed considerably. Copious amounts of body lean make it seem worse than it really is. Electronics control the engine, the ABS brakes, and the suspension, and there is, of course, an abundance of silicon wizardry inside the cabin, too. The previous Soarer had the world's first production digital dash. The newcomer has an EL panel mounted horizontally in the roof of the instrument binnacle, reflecting downwards onto a half mirror angled towards the driver, creating the illusion that the LCD display is floating in space at a distance from the driver. Toyota says this makes re-focussing easier when shifting the eyes from the road, but I found the display's odd angle and dull support graphics made it hard to assimilate. It is certainly no match for a good analogue display, such as that used in the Supra. Only marginally less disappointing was the centre console 152 mm colour CRT which shows in graphic form such information as the suspension's operating mode, fuel economy, and maintenance schedules. These functions can be displayed whether the car is moving or at rest. The CRT can be used to display TV programs when the car is stationary. The audio system's cassette player is also hooked in as a data player for an on-screen display of some rudimentary maps, although these take seemingly forever to print out, and the system is not linked to any active navigation system, so its usefulness is doubtful, to say the least. And in direct sunlight the screen is invisible. Under the long, low hood lurks Japan's most powerful production passenger car engine to date. Based on the same 24 valve DOHC 3.0-litre unit found in export Supras, the Soarer adds a turbocharger and intercooler to plump up power to no less than 169 kW Net at 5600 rpm. The trade-off, if that is what it can be called, is an accompanying fattening of the torque curve to a 324 Nm peak at 4000 rpm that deprives the car of the opportunity to have a manual transmission. Toyota doesn't have a box tough enough to take the strain. The electronically controlled three-pattern four-speed automatic does a good job of putting the power down effectively, though, and provides a useful measure of pilot control. Held against the brakes the Soarer will lay rubber for about 10 metres off the line, going on to 100 km/h in around seven seconds. Fortu¬nately the brakes are well up to taming the performance, with ventilated discs at all four wheels, and Toyota's own ABS system. For more sporting drivers who would rather have a manual transmission, the alternative is to move down a capacity class. If you want a five-speed manual, you will have to opt for one of three 2.0-litre Soarers. All of them are sixes, and one of them even has 24 valves, twin turbos and 136 kW, so its no great hardship. It is, however, the top 3.0-litre Soarer, at around Yen 00,000 before taxes in Japan, which is really what the Soarer is all about. It is Japan's most expensive volume production car, and a technological tour de force with few flaws. It may even be the most sophisticated automobile in production, al-though the price could well move it beyond the realm of the typical Japanese car buyer and into Mercedes/BMW territory. The new Toyota may be the better car, but does a Japanese car have enough prestige to really stay the course? I think not. Kevin Radley .