The parking lady should have charged us extra, it is unbelievably hard to park. The 2004 Toyota Mark II Grande is a long vehicle. And for that length, a reasonable middle class level of comfort and smoothness is in order. It isn’t quite. That is just a perception one has by looking at how ‘chubbily’ built the car is. It is a fat car.
Parking is a test I have always wanted to do with this car. Majorly because I am strangely not a fan of long vehicles. Kampala is too cramped for one to have to struggle for space to fit his ‘could have been a limousine.’
When it comes to parking, I’d prefer a Vitz which one could squeeze onto a verandah if space became a constraint, or you could just park it under a larger car.
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With the Mark II Grande, you get a lot of car and not much to that lot. It is an old car, we can excuse it as we are judging it over 10 years later. Despite the age, it is a favorite on Ugandan roads.
There isn’t a mid-range long sedan that competes in its space and price. And for that fact, you will see a UBB number plate on a Mark II Grand if you stood by a main street for a few minutes. Unknown to many, the gorgeous Toyota Mark X is the Successor of the Toyota Mark II line.
From the passenger seat; it is a fair experience. Your expectations are met at the border of satisfaction and wishing for more. The interior, at first glance looks great for a car of it’s time and age. You can tell that this was made for that middle-income earner that has a good eye for furniture. It looks like a well furnished living room. The wood accent on the steering wheel and dash board give the Mark II a pleasantly elegant look. It even, makes the car appear more expensive than it actually is.
The seats are comfortable enough. Not too comfortable that enroute you’ll wish for Entebbe Road 8:00 pm – level traffic jam, so as to keep your back and butt sunk into the cloth.
No. it’s comfortable enough for you to text and forget that for some reason, the infotainment in these cars is always in Japanese.
I don’t know a Mark II Grand owner that has made the effort to have their infotainment switched to English. Some even go as far as just replacing the whole unit. Am sure we have kind Japanese around town that wouldn’t mind maneuvering the MENU options to sort you out. It’s also way more economical to buy them dinner at Fang Fang Restaurant after that than to buy a new unit.
The ride is smooth. You are comfortable and even when you hit a few bumps, you feel the car is calm about it. It handles impressively and you do not feel it’s struggling to keep up with traffic when the lights go green. The power is sufficient and the 2.5 litre engine manages the weight of the car well. But that also means that it is a thirsty car for a car that is supposed to be for that averagely successful guy from your sales department.
For a long car, there is barely any noticeable drag when the driver buries his right foot on the throttle. The power to weight ration feels well done. If anything, it arouses a bit of excitement when the driver is speeding.
Be that as it may, the Mark II Grande still feels like a bit of a struggle because of the length. I’m sorry but I’ll keep coming back to how long it is. The turns are not as sharp and you feel like the driver however used they are to the size, they have to put thought into tight corners and such steers are something that does not eventually become natural. “You never quite get used to the length,” as said by a friend that owns one.
REVIEWS BY IAN PAUL
Author: Ian Paul Byamugisha
Ian Paul Byamugisha is a writer/author/novelist and car journalist. As a writer for Newslibre, he writes car reviews, cars news, tech news and anything that one might find interesting to read. Currently working on a spy novel collection titled “Arthur Vintage.”