I went all the way to Japan so I could test drive a car.
OK, that’s not technically correct. I actually went there to visit my son and daughter-in-law who live in Tokyo. Fortunately, amidst all the usual sightseeing my son knew we had to take at least one automotive detour.
That’s how we ended up at Toyota Mega Web.
Mega Web is like a manufacturer showcase on steroids. Toyota has assembled all of its domestic car models in one place. But it’s more than just cars on display. There are interactive exhibits and technology showcases. While we visited they were showing off the i-Real personal mobility concept.
But this isn’t just about looking at cars, they have a dedicated test track for putting them through their paces (assuming, of course, that your paces don’t exceed 40 kilometers per hour). It’s called Ride One. The only catch is that you must have either have a Japanese driver’s license or an international driver’s permit. Fortunately, my son suggested I get one before leaving the US so I was ready. For some strange reason, you have to pay 300 yen at a vending machine (a little more than $3) before you can drive.
Since Japan is the land of tiny cars, we decided to make our first test drive the Toyota IQ (sold in the US as the Scion IQ). They have a brief training session about the track (none of which I understood) and then let us loose. Needless to say they don’t allow passing and kept us properly spaced. Interestingly, the track was narrow with lots of potentially body scraping railing. Fortunately, I managed to avoid contact.
Our next car was the Toyota 86 (sold here as the new Scion FR-S) with a manual transmission. That was pretty severe overkill for the 40kph track. Still, it was fun accelerating up to speed.
Our next stop was the History Garage which is at the other end of the shopping mall sitting next to Mega Web. It’s definitely worth your time. It has plenty of Toyotas, but so much more, including a 1959 Cadillac. The setting is nicely done including a great collection of die-cast cars. My personal favorite was the Toyota 2000GT, which is a rare site in the US.
You can learn more about Toyota Mega Web and the History Garage at their web site.