European criticism of bland Japanese automotive design during the 1990s appears to have made an impact at Toyota. The slick new Celica pictured for the first time in this issue follows the launches of the Yaris supermini and the Lexus IS2000 - both of which are rapidly winning over Europeans who previously dismissed Far Eastern automotive design no matter how capable the car.
Back in 1990 companies like Toyota and Nissan were promising to build up massive market shares in Europe - in the UK, for example, both said they would have 10 percent of the market by 1999, and both failed by a significant margin. Perhaps the clearest reason for this was that their cars lacked style and desirability. The consumer wanted more than reliability, value for money and a good warranty.
Ten years on, however, it appears that Toyota is ready to challenge Europe's best in the design stakes. If the style of the Celica, Yaris and IS2000 are a guide to how future mainstream Toyotas like the Corolla and Avensis may look, European manufacturers may finally have a good reason to start worrying.