As the old TV ads used to point out, “the car in front is a Toyota.” This Japanese automotive giant has been on the forefront of innovation, design and reliability since its founding just over 80 years ago. In 2020, the Toyota marque continues to be popular in countries all around the world. As with many Japanese brands, however, there is an interesting world of vehicles that exist, created initially for Japan’s domestic market but now sought after by drivers here in the UK. Toyota is equally part of this world.

Toyota Importer
Toyota Noah Voxy 2003

Company Background

Toyota was founded in 1937 by Kiichiro Toyoda, a man with great prowess and renown in the world of loom making. After making the shift from textile machines to the world of automotive engineering, Toyoda wanted to make a new company with an iconic name and logo that would help put the stamp of Japanese quality and innovation on the burgeoning world of the motor car.

At first, designers tried to incorporate the name “Toyoda” into a circular design, but Toyoda instead favoured a change to “Toyota” which could be written in Japanese with 8 brush strokes. The number 8 is one symbolising great wealth and good fortune in traditional culture in Japan and China, and so Toyota was born.

Good luck did indeed seem to follow the company through its development, and by 1957 they were entering the US market with the Toyopet Crown and other models. Taxes levied on car imports during the 1960s and 1970s drove Toyota to open some manufacturing plants in the US, and before long Toyota was a real international player.

Here in the UK. Toyota continues to operate two manufacturing facilities, one in Burnaston in Derbyshire, and the other in Deeside in North Wales. They produce many of the models that British drivers have become familiar with, but they don’t provide the keys to the Toyota JDM treasure that lies overseas.

Toyota For Sale UK
Toyota Estima 2005
Toyota For Sale
Toyota Sparky 2001

“The Toyota Way”

In 2001, Toyota summarized their philosophy in five key parts, and it is these that help explain the popularity of JDM Toyota models — Ist, Raum, Sparky, and Wish to name but a few — around the world.
Challenge – knowing what needs to be done and improved
Kaizen – working to make required enhancements and improvements
Genchi Genbutsu – “go and see for yourself” – see where the processes are happening with your own eyes so you can solve problems more efficiently

Toyota on the JDM Market

Japanese Domestic Market (JDM) Toyotas have been consistently popular through the years. The UK is a popular destination for these imports for many reasons, but chiefly for:

• UK-compatible right-hand-drive build
• Improved specifications
• Performance and quality
• Variety otherwise unavailable in the UK
• Great value

Some people still think that JDM purchases are always sporty cars purchased by racing and drifting enthusiasts. While models like the Toyota Supra, Sprinter and Corolla have been popular for these purposes, there are countless other models that make wonderful family cars, like Toyotas eclectic range of people carriers (MPVs), SUVs and saloon cars.

Toyota Imports
Toyota Alphard 2005
Toyota Japanese Import Cars
Toyota Alphard 2002

Why are Toyota MPVs, SUVs and Saloons popular?

People don’t just want to purchase Toyota Japanese MPV’s for the fun of it, or because they want to mod them into edgy racing-look vans. They want them for their:
1. spacious interiors
2. efficiency
3. power
4. innovation
5. unique design

1. The Spacious Toyota

Family cars need to be both comfortable and functional. A large saloon can sit 5 comfortably, but why not go the extra mile and get a bigger 7-seater? That gives you hundreds of litres of cargo space, a third row of seats, and capacity to run all your errands, transport the kids and their friends and so much more. There’s a reason that cars like the Toyota bB, Estima and Ipsum do so well in this market. People want space, comfort and reliability in their family car. All of these things make for great economy, and that’s what Toyota really stands for.

2. The Efficient Toyota

As big as some of these cars are, they are amazingly efficient. The Toyota Granvia runs at fuel consumption rate in the upper 20s for miles per gallon. The Toyota Noah even breaks into the low 30s on average. This is impressive efficiency for cars of this size and scale. While European and American manufacturers for decades told us that this level of efficiency wasn’t viable for the MPV, Toyota has shown us the way.

3. The Powerful Toyota

Power difference is one of the biggest driving factors behind the demand for JDM cars, and Toyotas are no exception to that rule. The older HiAce and Regius people carriers — called by some as the ‘kings’ of the compact van/MPV world — were powered by very impressive 2.8L engines delivering terrific horsepower and torque for their category. With cars like the HiAce, you even got that great choice of the Grand HiAce and the Touring HiAce to make your selection that much richer and more able to suit your exact needs.

Toyota Japanese Import
Toyota BB 2007
Toyota UK
Toyota Voxy 2006

4. The Innovative Toyota

The Japanese car market is driven by the population’s general desire to drive the very latest thing, armed with the latest gadgetry and innovation. This partly explains the size of the JDM surplus of cars, of which we in the UK can now take advantage. The result, too, is that even some older model/year Toyotas come with technology not introduced in other models until later on.

Toyota over the years has been predictably prolific in their creation of new technologies. Some examples include (but are not limited to):
• Dynamic handling technology
• Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM), linking traction, stability and steering to make your car both athletic and safe
• Electrical 4WD technology
• Multi-stage hybrid systems

Through the JDM market, drivers looking for a new family car in the UK can take advantage of the great value of an older model without compromising on technology.

5. The Uniquely Designed Toyota

Sleek saloon cars like the Camry have always been popular, but the Japanese auto giant has spent many years teaching the rest of the world that the people carrier can also be a thing of beauty and design brilliance. Thanks to unique Toyota designs like the powerful and imposing design of the Alphard, or the sleek and edgy front-end design of the Voxy, we learned that MPVs can be cool, too.

Gone are the clunky old unappealing “vans” of US and European design, and we now can welcome the eclectic Toyota to show us a new path.

Toyota Used
Toyota Lucida 1997

Toyota Remains the UK’s “Go-To” Car

The Toyota brand has flourished in the UK for its quality, reliability, affordability and unique style. In short, they are cars with personality and finesse. Thanks to the increasing numbers of people getting to know the JDM market, the Toyota selection available to families and individuals has just grown vastly larger.

Take time to explore our own range of Toyota import cars and find a great-value family car that will help you stand out while delivering unbeatable quality and dependability.


Toyota Car Models


  • Alphard
  • BB
  • Camry
  • Estima
  • Granvia
  • HiAce
  • Grand HiAce
  • Touring HiAce
  • Ipsum
  • Ist
  • Noah
  • Raum
  • Regius
  • Sparky
  • Voxy
  • Wish

Take time to explore our own range of Toyota import cars and find a great-value family car that will help you live the strong and innovative message of this great Japanese brand.

Back to top