Here’s a surprise. The latest 2018 Toyota Alphard and Vellfire have appeared on UMW Toyota Motor’s website, barely three weeks after the facelifted MPV duo was revealed in Japan. It appears that the luxury JDM people carriers are open for booking too, but that may not mean that the cars are here and ready for delivery – see Harrier.

The Alphard-Vellfire facelift comes with a new 2GR-FKE 3.5 litre V6 engine that adds direct injection to the mix. Toyota claims improved performance as well as better fuel economy, quoted at between 10.4 and 10.6 km per litre on the Japanese JC08 cycle, up from 9.5 km per litre previously. V6 models also move from a six-speed automatic to an eight-speed Direct Shift unit. The 2.5 litre Dual VVT-i four-cylinder and CVT combo has been retained.

Elsewhere, greater use of structural adhesives as well as high-rigidity glass adhesives have resulted in increased body rigidity, contributing to better handling stability and ride comfort, Toyota claims.

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The new engine and 8AT combo is highlighted by UMWT for the 2018 Alphard facelift, along with auto start-stop, VIP seats with integrated tables, AC control panel within the armrest and a full display mirror (FDM). We will also get wireless smartphone charging and blind spot monitor (BSM).

The FDM is a rather cool feature. Think of it as a live camera feed of the rear, projected on the rear view mirror. This is good for safety as well, as the driver gets a clear and wide view of the rear without angle issues, heads blocking or dark tinting in the way.

As for the Vellfire, UMWT’s highlighted features list includes the FDM, BSM, wireless charger, auto start-stop and a large central infotainment screen. The seats pictured are captain seats in an all-black cabin. Captain seats are a level below the wider VIP seats in the Alphard, which besides the mentioned integrated controller and table, includes massage functions and a powered ottoman. No mention of Toyota Safety Sense, though.

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We move on to the facelift itself. The Alphard receives an even more prominent full-height grille, with chrome trim that moves outward to bisect the headlights. Those headlights themselves have also been given new internal graphics. The Vellfire gets a giant chrome plated grille and triangular fog light surrounds, giving it an even more distinctive look. There are also new tail lights (with square light guides in the case of the Vellfire), tailgate garnish and wheel designs.

We don’t get the sportier Aero look, but there’s always Modellista and TRD styling packages in the aftermarket for those who want to play dress up.

No details yet, but expect UMWT to position the MPVs as they did before, which is the Alphard 3.5 Executive Lounge at the top, Alphard 3.5 and a Vellfire 2.5 as the entry to the officially imported range.

Going the official route with UMWT will net one a car with unique specifications for Malaysian weather and road conditions, as well as regulations. These include special tuning of the engine ECU, wider outer mirrors and customised audio and navigation systems. Of course, official cars come with five years of unlimited mileage factory warranty, and assured 10 years parts availability. Stay tuned for more.

GALLERY: Toyota Alphard facelift, JDM

GALLERY: Toyota Vellfire facelift, JDM