The idea of a super-sedan is not new. The idea of a luxurious, smooth, four-door sedan being blisteringly fast was tinkered with by manufacturers such as Jaguar in the late 50s and 60s—resulting in cars like the Mark 2, which effectively took Jaguar away from pure sports cars and into the luxury-sports car market, where they've stayed to date. With time, the Germans came to the forefront—cars like the Benz 300 SEL 6.3 and first-gen BMW M5 cemented Germany's reputation for building fast, luxurious sports sedans that attained crazy triple-digit speeds while pampering occupants with leather, air-con and relative exclusion from the outside world.
On the other side of the world, though, the Japanese were trying their best to match the pursuit of luxurious speed. With large RWD cars like the Nissan Cefiro and Toyota Chaser powered by big, burly six-cylinder motors, it was only a matter of time before someone thought of strapping turbos to them to create proper beasts-on-four-wheels. While that happened in the world of aftermarket tuners and illegal street drifting to a great extent, the response from manufacturers was slightly more subdued. Once in a while though, the Japs let loose and packed everything they could into one trim of one car—like the Toyota Aristo V300 Vertex you see here.
Calling it an M5 killer is not as unjustified as you'd initially think. With Toyota's 2JZGTE 3.0-litre twin turbo straight six (made famous by the MKIV Supra) packed under the hood, the Aristo V300 came with power figures of 320 HP (brochures claimed 276, as per the infamous Japanese gentleman's agreement) and 332 lb-ft of torque. By contrast, the E39 M5 (often referred to as the best sports sedan of all time by some enthusiasts) had 394 HP and 369 lb-ft torque. While the numbers show a big difference, in reality, the Japanese market Aristo V300 had a closer claim to the throne of “fastest four-door sedan in the world” than the global Lexus GS, which was advertised upon launch along similar lines.
Owner Ashique Un Nabi uses the Aristo daily. With a leather and piano-wood clad interior, automatic (touch-screen controlled) climate control, power memory seats, a sunroof and loads of space all around, the Aristo V300 is a fully loaded beast that gives it two distinct personalities—one that centres around the over-powered, over-engineered motor, another that revolves around all of the creature comforts of a refined and tasteful luxury car. When pushed, the car combines the two—this is a car you can be doing 200 km/h with ease while having a conversation with your passengers, with the air-con running and the heated seats warming your back. Stability comes from the Active Rear Steering system—typically an expensive affair on cars like these, but thanks to typical Toyota over-engineering in the 90s, the electronics are robust and not particularly prone to failure. It'll slide for days if you want to, but then Ashique is a mature automotive enthusiast, not your typical hooligan. He's owned large sedans before—a Mitsubishi Galant Super Saloon as a first car, followed by Toyota GX110 Mark 2. He also appreciates the classics, having owned a 1965 VW Beetle.
With a little over 53,000 km on the clock, Ashique isn't too keen on tuning the 2JZGTE any further than a basic upgrade consisting of dialled up boost and a speed limiter delete. After all, why mess with one of the best four-door sports sedans ever made?
Photos: Ahbaar Mohammad