In May 1997, Toyota Central Motors introduced its new small, five-seat mini MPV named the Toyota Raum. It is offered in Japan only and in its second generation which was launched in May 2003.
The term Raum is taken from German for chamber, berth, room, space, expanse, scope, area, or sphere and refers to its spacious property as compared to its small size. As for designing of the car is concerned, both the front doors of the car open in a traditional way, while the rear doors instead of open conventionally, slide open rearward on both sides. The rear doors are mounted to the top and bottom of the door openings and clasp with front doors. The rear door approach used in the Raum is similar to the one used on the Peugeot 1007, a 3-door hatchback having sliding rear doors on both sides. Interestingly, there are no door jambs used between the front and the rear doors and doors are mounted to on the passenger side.
To offer maximum storage in the interior, the front passenger seat can be folded flat on itself and can further be folded forward while still being attached to the front floor at the bottom of the seat. The rear seats on the other hand not only fold flat with a 60:40 split, but can also be folded forward separately to offer spacious cargo floor at the rear.
In Raum, the automatic transmission gear selector is attached in dashboard which means that more flat floor space between the front seats. You can even move freely from front seat to rear or from rear to front from within the car.
First Generation (1997-2003)
The first generation Raum was launched in 1997. It was offered with EBD brakes on high performance G and E packages and later it was introduced on the C package as well. In August 1999, a facelift was introduced with minor of changes.
Second Generation (2003-present)
On May 12, 2003, a completely redesigned second generation Raum was introduced. It was based on the same platform as Toyota Vitz. Electronically controlled rear doors and remote control key fob were introduced. As for engine, the second generation Raum used the same engine as Toyota Prius. The side impact protect was further improved with second generation.
A new trim level called the C Package NEO Edition was introduced in 2004 where NEO stands for New Era Opening. On December 5, 2006, the DVD navigational system was upgraded to HDD. The HID lamps and in-car cabin air filter was introduced on January 7, 2009. For the 2007 model year in Japan, G-BOOK, a subscription telematics service, is offered as an optional service.
The Raum was also awarded the Japan Good Design Award with a special mention for people with physical disabilities on October 20, 2003.
The pricing plan for 2009 model starts from ¥ 1,596,000 that is further raised with the upscale models at ¥ 1,984,500.