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06 Nov 2009 | Text and photos by Amery Reuben
The Alphard male
He likes his coffee cold and in a bottle, prefers in-car entertainment in the raunchiest of fashions, preferably with a female. In the long-run, fathers something like fifty-six children. Oh, and he also drives one of the biggest passenger vehicles on the road.
Toyota’s Luxury MPVs have been around since 1992. They catered to the Japanese domestic market, although some of them popped up at random in Singapore and Malaysia.
Little do you know that this mini-van derives its name from the brightest star in the Hydra constellation — the Alphard.
Predictably, the Alphard goes head-on with the Honda Elysion and Nissan Elgrand, of which offer similar levels of equipment.
As part of a 2005 facelift, the Alphard was given a newly designed rear lamp and 16 and 17 inch aluminium alloy wheels. This was also the year that Toyota released the Alphard Hybrid Model.
A redesign of the Alphard in April 2008 included a more sophisticated exterior style and a more luxurious inside, all in an effort to further update and strengthen Toyota’s best-selling position in the above mentioned markets.
And this brings us to another point. Unlike the majority of snooty western countries and their automotive culture, the Japanese take their mini-vans very seriously.
Think about it – there’s tons of headroom along with the factory installed features, 100% contortion-free entry and exit routes for drunk, party-hardy Hollywood-wannabes who can afford that poor designated driver on duty on a Friday night.
And this sub-culture seems to be catching on in Singapore. If you’re on the roads often enough, you’d probably spot a “blinged” Alphard that has rolled-up fenders and 21-inch chromed wheels, ten or more LCD screens encompassing each seat and passenger, lots of LED interior lighting, a smashing in-car-entertainment system, as well as the obligatory white boa-feathers on the dashboard. Let’s not forget the popular Japanese “VIP-bling-bling” brands that go along with it like “DAD.”
Nissan Elgrand 2.5 Highway Star 7-seater (A) vs Toyota Alphard 2.4 (A)