The Toyota Soarer was a personal luxury GT coupé sold by Toyota in Japan from 1981 to 2005. In Japan, it was available at both Toyota Japan dealerships called Toyota Store and Toyopet Store, and it débuted with the Z10 series, replacing the Toyopet Store exclusive Mark II Coupe, and the Toyota Store exclusive Crown Coupe.
In 1986, the Z20 series was launched, based on the then new A70 Supra platform. In 1991, the third generation (Z30 series) Toyota Soarer premiered in Japan, while its Lexus equivalent, the SC 300/400 débuted in the US market.
While externally identical to the Lexus SC, the Z30 series Soarer lineup offered different powertrain specifications and multiple unique vehicle configurations. In 2001, Toyota introduced a convertible-only successor which appeared in Japan as the fourth generation (Z40 series) Toyota Soarer, and elsewhere as the Lexus SC 430. In contrast to previous series, the fourth generation Soarer and Lexus SC were based on a single model and were largely equivalent. In 2005, following the introduction of Lexus in Japan, the Soarer name and emblem were discontinued and the Z40 became the Lexus SC 430 in common with worldwide markets.
In its home market the Soarer was a competitor to the Nissan Leopard, and Mazda Cosmo coupes, and served as Toyota's "halo car", introducing new technologies before they were installed on other Toyota products. All versions of the Soarer featured a unique winged lion emblem (often mistakenly called a Griffin) as the logo throughout the vehicle.
Z10 series (1981–1985)
|Body and chassis|
|Body style||2-door GT coupe|
|Wheelbase||2,660 mm (104.7 in)|
|Length||4,655 mm (183.3 in)|
|Width||1,695 mm (66.7 in)|
|Height||1,360 mm (53.5 in)|
|Curb weight||1,310 kg (2,890 lb)|
The Soarer made its first appearance at the 1980 Osaka International Motor Show with the name "EX-8", and the Z10 series Toyota Soarer was produced from February 1981 to December 1985, with 2.0L, 2.8L or 3.0L DOHC I-6 variants.
At its introduction in 1981, it won the Car of the Year Japan Award.
The first generation Soarer debuted with a rear-wheel drive configuration based on the A60 Supra. It boasted numerous technological items, such as touchscreen computer controlled air conditioning climate control (on all models excepting base models which featured standard fan/heater controls), digital speed and tachometer display using LED (that were differentiated between models), among other electronic features. Due to the compliance of Japanese external dimension and engine displacement regulations, the first generation models were classified as "compacts" which gave Japanese buyers tax saving advantages.
The suspension utilized MacPherson struts for the front, with trailing arm type IRS (independent rear suspension), labelled with Toyota's branding PEGASUS (Precision Engineered Geometrically Advanced SUSpension). The vehicle also came with self-diagnosis maintenance reminders.
There were a number of different engines available.
- GZ10=1G-EU, 1G-GEU
Early M-TEU powered MZ10s were different in some regards to later MZ10s. Some of the difference are listed below.
- Later MZ10s had a water to air intercooler
- Later MZ10s had an oil-and-water-cooled turbo (as opposed to the oil-cooled-only turbo in the early MZ10s)
The MZ12 was equipped with the following features:
- Cruise Control
- 7 way adjustable (driver only) leather seats
- Toyota Electronically Modulated Suspension (TEMS) (1983)
- Digital Automatic climate control
- Audible Warning messages
- Electro multivision display (CRT type display), GT LTD Only
Z20 series (1986–1991)
|Body and chassis|
|Wheelbase||2,670 mm (105.1 in)|
|Length||4,675 mm (184.1 in)|
|Width||1,725 mm (67.9 in) (3.0L engine)
1,690 mm (66.5 in)
|Height||1,335 mm (52.6 in)|
|Curb weight||1,510 kg (3,330 lb)|
The Z20 series Toyota Soarer was produced from January 1986 to April 1991, and was available in several variants. The styling of the second generation Soarer is similar of that of the X80 series Cressida, Mark II, Chaser and Cresta. The Soarer shared its platform with the newly introduced A70 series Supra.
In 1988, TOM'S released a limited model package named the C5. The 7M-GTE in the Tom's C5 Soarer saw the power upgrades similar to those seen in the Turbo-A Supra of the same year.
In April 1989 a limited 500 unit production of the Aerocabin version was also available. This came with only 2 seats and an electric folding roof. The Aerocabin came with the same specs as the GT-Limited and were only available with the 7M-GTE engine, 4sp automatic transmission, tan leather interior and pearl paint.
In 1988 Soarer Z2 got restyling -grill and rear taillights changed and minor interior changes (climate control, dash). Other than that engines were improved:
- 1G-GTEU 180 -> 157 kW (213 PS; 211 hp)
- 7M-GTEU 230 -> 179 kW (243 PS; 240 hp)
Unlike the A70, the Z20 did not pick up the 2.5L twin turbo 1JZ-GTE. However all models built from May 1989 including the Aerocabin did have a revised crossmember.
|model code||chassis code||grade||year||engine||transmission||weight (kg)||turbo||notes|
|GZ20||HCMEE||2.0 VZ||1986.1-1987.12||1G-EU||W57 5-speed M/T||1300||N/A||87.1- +10 kg|
|HCPEE||A42DL 4-speed A/T||1310|
|HCMGE||2.0 VX||1986.1-1988.12||W57 5-speed M/T||1320||88.1- +20 kg|
|HCPGE||A42DE 4-speed A/T||1330|
|HCMGK||1989.1-1991.4||1G-FE||W57 5-speed M/T||1350||ESC|
|HCPGK||A42DE 4-speed A/T||1360|
|HCMVF||2.0 GT||1986.1-1991.4||1G-GEU||W55 5-speed M/T||1330||87.1- +10 kg, 88.1- +30 kg and ESC|
|HCPVF||A42DE 4-speed A/T||1340||89.1- A340E 4-speed A/T|
|HCMVZ||2.0 GT-TWIN TURBO||1G-GTE||W57 5-speed M/T||1400||Twin CT-12||87.1- +10 kg and ESC, 88.1- +20 kg||88.1- W58 5-speed M/T|
|HCPVZ||A340E 4-speed A/T||1420|
|HCMZZ||2.0 GT-TWIN TURBO L||1988.1-1991.4||W58 5-speed M/T||1430||ESC|
|HCPZZ||A340E 4-speed A/T||1450|
|MZ20||HCMZZ||3.0 GT||1987.1-1991.4||7M-GTE||R154 5-speed M/T||1490||CT-26||87.1- +20 kg, 88.1-+ 20 kg, 89.1- +10 kg|
|HCPVZ||1986.1-1991.4||A340E 4-speed A/T||1470|
|HJPVZ||3.0 GT AEROCABIN||1989.4||A340E 4-speed A/T||1610||Limited run of 500 units|
|HCMZZ||3.0 GT LIMITED||1987.1-1991.4||R154 5-speed M/T||1520||87.1- +20 kg||88.1- +10 kg|
|HCPZZ||1986.1-1991.4||A340E 4-speed A/T||1500|
|MZ21||HCMZZ||1987.1-1991.4||R154 5-speed M/T||1520||Air suspension|
|HCPZZ||1986.1-1991.4||A340E 4-speed A/T||1520|
|ESC (optional) = +10 kg, Sunroof (optional on all models except the aerocabin)= +20 kg|
Z30 series (1991–2000)
|Body and chassis|
|Body style||2-door GT coupe|
|Wheelbase||2,690 mm (105.9 in)|
|Length||4,860–4,890 mm (191.3–192.5 in)|
|Width||1,790–1,800 mm (70.5–70.9 in)|
|Height||1,330–1,350 mm (52.4–53.1 in)|
|Curb weight||1,540–1,730 kg (3,400–3,810 lb)|
In 1987, following the design freeze of the upcoming upscale Lexus division's UCF10 LS 400 (Celsior) flagship sedan due in 1989, Toyota commissioned its California design studio Calty to develop a new luxury coupe. In mid-1991, this vehicle debuted in the U.S. as the Lexus SC 300/400. In the same year, the third generation Toyota Soarer debuted in Japan as the Z30 series, replacing the Z20 series in that market. The Z30 series Soarer shared the body and key components with the Lexus SC, but featured different interior features, powertrain configurations, and other performance enhancements.
This new Soarer continued some of the features that Toyota had pioneered on the earlier models, such as digital dash instrumentation and integrated car systems control via the in-dash EMV touchscreen. For example, it was now one of the first cars in the world to feature factory GPS navigation via CD-ROM. This generation Soarer was considered in Japan a very expensive and extravagant luxury car in that it was longer and wider than a Crown, while primarily accommodating two passengers, with modest space for rear seat passengers. It did not comply with Japanese Government dimension regulations which made Japanese buyers liable for yearly taxes due to its size.
The Toyota Soarers made from the years 1991–2000 were offered with a 4-speed automatic transmission for all models. In addition, the JZZ30 Soarer could be had with a 5-speed manual transmission. All models were available with a Torsen torque-sensing differential. Unlike their US Lexus equivalents however, the 30-series Soarer lineup never received a 5-speed automatic, and only the six-cylinder versions received variable valve timing (VVTi) engines, in 1996. Also, the UZZ30 (equivalent to the Lexus SC400) was only sold from 1991 to 1993, and the JZZ31 (equivalent to the Lexus SC300) was not introduced to the Japanese market until 1994.
Styling-wise, the Soarer received only minor changes during its 9-year production run, mostly external. External changes were shared with the U.S Lexus models. Changes were:
- Series 1, May 1991 - December 1993: original body and style.
- Series 2, January 1994 - August 1996: tinted glass, new front bumper with one-piece lower grille, fog lights replace cornering lights, new tail lights.
- Series 3, August 1996 - December 2000: new front bumper with upper grille, oval fog lights, new tail lights, longer rear bumper, standard side skirts, elevated rear spoiler, body stripe, 16" wheels.
Z30 series Soarer models
|model||year||engine||power (kW)||torque (Nm)||turbo||transmissions||notes|
|JZZ30||1991-96||1JZ-GTE (2.5 L I6)||206 kW (280 PS; 276 hp)||363 N·m (268 lb·ft)||twin parallel||manual (R154), auto|
|1997–2000||1JZ-GTE (2.5 L I6), VVT-i||220 kW (299 PS; 295 hp)||378 N·m (279 lb·ft)||single||manual (R154), auto|
|JZZ31||1994-96||2JZ-GE (3.0 L I6)||165 kW (224 PS; 221 hp)||285 N·m (210 lb·ft)||none||auto||equivalent to Lexus SC300|
|1997–2000||2JZ-GE (3.0 L I6), VVT-i||169 kW (230 PS; 227 hp)||304 N·m (224 lb·ft)||none||auto||equivalent to Lexus SC300|
|UZZ30||1991-93||1UZ-FE (4.0 V8)||196 kW (266 PS; 263 hp)||353 N·m (260 lb·ft)||none||auto||equivalent to Lexus SC400|
|UZZ31||1991-97||1UZ-FE (4.0 V8)||191/195||353/363||none||auto||airbag suspension, "EMV" TV/touchscreen system|
|UZZ32||1991-96||1UZ-FE (4.0 V8)||191/195||353/363||none||auto||active suspension, four-wheel steering, "EMV" TV/touchscreen system|
The JZZ30 was the only model sold continuously from the introduction of the 30 series in 1991 until production ceased in 2000. As the sportiest model in the range it was also the only one available with a R154 manual transmission. Like other models in the range there were two different equipment grades available, the base GT-T and the better-equipped GT-TL which added electric seats, wood trim, cruise control and Toyota's TEMS electronic damper adjustment to the list of standard features.
The JZZ30 was powered by the 2.5-litre 1JZ-GTE turbocharged engine. Initially featuring two identical small turbos running together (unlike the sequential twin turbo systems of the Supra and Mazda RX-7, for example), it officially produced 206 kW (280 PS; 276 hp) and 363 N·m (268 lb·ft) of torque at 4800 rpm. This was in keeping with the Japanese Manufacturers' advertised power limit agreement, however real-world power outputs were somewhat higher. In August 1996 the engine received Toyota's variable valve timing system (VVTi) and in conjunction with a single, more efficient turbocharger, produced much better high and mid-range torque (in fact, 378 N·m (279 lb·ft) at just 2400 rpm - see The Toyota JZ Engine Guide below) while still producing the "official" 206 kW (280 PS; 276 hp) of power and better fuel economy.
While the Lexus SC300 was available from the start of the new series' US introduction in 1991, the equivalent Japan-market Soarer model — the JZZ31 — was not introduced until 1994, where it was marketed as the "new base model" Soarer. 1994 also saw the introduction of the new black interior colour scheme which replaced the grey colour scheme used in blue, red, and black external colour cars until the end of 1993. The JZZ31 was the only one of the two JZZ models to feature manually adjustable black leather seats. The black interior scheme became the prominent interior scheme for all Japanese Soarers by the end of production.
The JZZ31 was powered by the 3-litre 2JZ-GE engine, which initially produced 165 kW (224 PS; 221 hp) at 5800 rpm and 285 N·m (210 lb·ft) of torque at 4800 rpm. Like the JZZ30 the engine also received Toyota's VVTi system in 1997 which increased output to 169 kW (230 PS; 227 hp) at 6000 rpm and 304 N·m (224 lb·ft) at 4000 rpm while simultaneously improving fuel economy. While the SC300 in the US market became a popular Lexus for performance upgrades due to its shared engine with the MKIV (JZA80) Supra, the JZZ31 Soarer was somewhat overlooked since unlike the SC300 it was never offered in manual gearbox form and had neither the performance appeal of the turbocharged JZZ30 nor the luxury and equipment of the UZZ31/32 models.
However with the increasing cost (and slowing sales) of the V8 Soarer GT-L models in the mid-late '90s, the JZZ31 would remain in production along with the JZZ30 until the end of the 30 Series in 2000.
The UZZ30 was introduced in Japan as the 'base' model of the V8 powered 30 series lineup. Fitted with the same 4.0-litre quad cam V8 as the UZZ31/32, it benefited in the performance stakes due to its considerably lighter weight. The UZZ30 used a standard Tokiko coilover suspension setup, basic stereo system, manual steering column, and very few electronic aids. Electric velour fabric seats were standard whereas leather seats were exclusive to the UZZ31 and UZZ32 models. No heated or memory seats were available, and the UZZ30 never came with sunroof or rear wiper. As the car was substantially lighter due to the exclusion of all the 'luxury fruit', they are a considered a driver's car, with good power, handling and braking.
The UZZ30 series Soarer was used as the base vehicle for the Lexus SC400 (model code UZZ30) exported into the United States, although to satisfy local markets, a comprehensive listing of luxury options were offered, including some features of the UZZ31, such as seat memory position, traction control, sunroof, sun visors with courtesy light and electronic steering position adjustment. Local Japanese Soarers all came with an electronic dashboard which used an internal mirror to display the dashboard holographically. It really is a beautiful design and has stood the test of time, yet this was never offered on a USA spec model. These cars came with a standard dash layout comprising round dials and lit needles similar to the LS400 Lexus. Whereas the left hand drive version of UZZ30 was made throughout the entire 9 year production run, the right hand drive version was made from 1991 to 1993 only.
UZZ31 Soarer "Limited"
The UZZ31 and UZZ32 Soarers were the luxury GT versions of the range, with more features and equipment than the UZZ30 and the 6-cylinder models and the U.S market Lexus SC300/400. The EMV (Electro Multi Vision) touchscreen system which was pioneered in the Z10 and Z20 Soarers was again available and provided a screen with television, GPS navigation, diagnostics, car computer, reversing camera and touch control of all functions of the climate control and sophisticated 7-speaker (with subwoofer) balanced-signal audio system with 12-disc CD stacker and digital signal processing.
All three V8 models were powered by Toyota's acclaimed 1UZ-FE quad-cam all-alloy 4-litre V8. While producing marginally less power and torque than the turbocharged JZZ30 (191 kW (260 PS; 256 hp) at 5400 rpm, 353 N·m (260 lb·ft) at 4600 rpm) the V8, called the 4.0GT-L was renowned for its smoothness and refinement. Although receiving a minor update in 1995 which improved responsiveness and bumped outputs to 195 kW (265 PS; 261 hp) / 363 N·m (268 lb·ft), production of the V8-equipped Soarers ended before the powerplant received VVTi which substantially increased outputs in the Lexus SC400 and other models. However, supercharged and turbocharged modifications are becoming increasingly common given the strength and durability of the engine, and power outputs up to double the factory levels are being seen on internally standard engines.
The UZZ31 featured a driver-adjustable air suspension system that had two settings for both ride height and damper stiffness. The air 'bag' pressure was controlled by an electric pump mounted at the front of the car. Also featured on the UZZ31 series were a host of electronic goodies including automatic headlights (shared also with the UZZ30), speed-sensitive wipers, electric controlled 2 position memory seats with heated feature as an additional factory option, electronic collapsible steering column with memory, optional reversing camera, cabin air purifying system (also shared with the JZZ31 from 1994), touch screen TV with 12 stack CD player, touch screen SatNav, and a full on board computer diagnostic system which would output to the TV display unit. Like the higher-spec JZZ30 the UZZ31 came with optional sunroof and rear wiper.
UZZ32 Soarer "Limited"
The UZZ32 was the top of the line 30 series featuring all of the options available on the UZZ31 but with the added feature of four-wheel steering and a complex hydro-pneumatic, computer-controlled active suspension system. This did away with conventional springs and anti-roll (stabiliser) bars in favour of hydraulic struts controlled by an array of sensors (such as yaw velocity sensors, vertical G sensors, height sensors, wheel speed sensors, longitudinal and lateral G sensors) that detected cornering, acceleration and braking forces. The system worked well and gave an unusually controlled yet smooth ride with no body roll. However, the additional weight and power requirements of the system affected straight-line performance somewhat. The car was costly to produce and at close to ¥8 million in 1995, expensive to buy. As a result, only 873 UZZ32's were made and are now collectors items in right-hand drive markets such as the UK and Australia. The UZZ32 Soarer became the second shortest production run model for Toyota following the 2000GT in the late 60's.
Japanese Soarers were available in many colours, some of which were offered continuously throughout the run, and others which were limited runs or one-offs. These colour runs did not always match the equivalent U.S market choices or runs.
|Pearl white||051 (early)
|Royal Jade Pearl (aka Bluish Green Metallic)||6M2||1991-1996|
|Classic Green Pearl||6P2||1996-2000|
|Renaissance Red (aka Super Red IV)||3L2||1994-2000|
|Dark Blue Mica||8J5||1991-1996|
|Blue Mica Metallic||8L5||1996-2000|
|Silver Spruce Metallic (aka Teal)||6M3||1991-1993|
|Teal Mist Metallic (aka Teal)||6N1||1994-1995|
From 1991 until 1993, Soarers with external paint codes 6M2, 3K3, 8J5 and 202 came with a grey interior colour scheme. Alternatively models in 6M2 came with "spruce" (blue-grey) interior scheme. Models with paint codes 4k9 and 051 came with tan interior scheme. Models in 3k3 also came with the tan interior scheme as an alternative. From 1991-1993 models with paint code 176 and 6M3 came with spruce interior colour exclusively. Cars with paint code 051 (1991-1998) and 057 (1998-2000) came with tan interiors exclusively.
From 1994 a new black interior scheme replaced the grey colour scheme and was continued until 2000, becoming the predominant interior colour from 1998-2000. From 1994-2000 cars with external paint code 202 came exclusively with the new black interior colour scheme. Models in 3L2 came with either black or tan interior colour schemes.
Spruce interior colour scheme was discontinued in 1998. Thereafter models in 1A0 and 1C0 which up until then came with spruce interiors, gained black interiors exclusively. Exterior colour 6P2 replaced exterior colour 6M2 in 1996 and all 6P2 cars subsequently came with the tan interior scheme after the spruce deletion. Also new for 1996 was external colour 8L5 which replaced 8J5 and went from spruce to tan interior.
Z40 series (2001–2005)
|Production||2001–2005 (renamed in 2006 as Lexus SC)|
|Body and chassis|
|Body style||2-door GT coupé convertible|
|Engine||4.3 L 3UZ-FE V8|
|Wheelbase||2,620 mm (103.1 in)|
|Length||4,515 mm (177.8 in)|
|Width||1,825 mm (71.9 in)|
|Height||1,355 mm (53.3 in)|
|Curb weight||1,730 kg (3,810 lb)|
The 40 series Soarer model was largely identical to its Lexus equivalent, sold outside Japan as the Lexus SC 430 since 2001. The Z40 series Soarer 430SCV featured a hardtop which could fold into the boot of the car, in the fashion of the contemporary Mercedes-Benz SL. The coupe was equipped with the 3UZ-FE VVTi (variable valve timing) 4.3-litre V8 motor, as was available in the Lexus LS 430 luxury sedan. It produced 208 kW (283 PS; 279 hp) and 430 N·m (320 lb·ft) of torque. This enabled the coupe to accelerate from a standstill to 62 mph (100 km/h) in 6 seconds. The shared body style of the Z40 series Soarer/SC 430 was developed by Toyota designers at design studios in France and Japan. Compared with the Z30 series, some observers generally considered the fourth generation a retreat in visual style due to its more compact and top heavy appearance. As a result it had lost the long sleek look previously seen and admired greatly in the Z30 series models.
With the Z40 series Soarer, design and production synergies culminated in the development of a single shared design configuration for both the Soarer and Lexus models, unlike the previous generations. The rise of Lexus as Toyota's premium worldwide marque also contributed to the design focus on the Lexus model configuration rather than a separate Toyota-branded series of Soarer coupes. On July 26, 2005, Lexus was introduced in Japan with the 2006 SC 430 TSOOH in its lineup. The debut of Lexus and the SC 430 coincided with the conclusion of Toyota Soarer sales.
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