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Toyota previews convertible HiAce

The top-less HiAce is aimed at foodies and sun-lovers alike.

Toyota's Australian division unveiled an unexpected limited-edition version of the popular HiAce van aimed at foodies and sun-lovers alike.

The HiAce Convertible looks like a run-of-the-mill van from the bottom of the rocker panels to the belt line. Above that, Toyota chopped off the roof, added a soft top, and turned the B-pillar into a roll bar that keeps the occupants safe in the event of a rollover while improving structural rigidity. Black hubcaps and contrasting orange paint further help the Convertible stand out from the regular HiAce.

The idea of a convertible van (can it still be considered a van?) is interesting, but Toyota's creativity doesn't stop there. Buyers can pay extra for an option called PieAce that adds a quad-rack pie oven in a drawer integrated into the rear end. Models equipped with the optional oven -- whose cost hasn't been announced yet -- wear a "caution: hot surface" sticker on the left side of the license plate insert. There's no word yet on whether the owner's manual includes recipes, or whether there's a system to keep beef and pastry emissions below legally-permissible levels.

"It works a lot like a slow cooker. All you do is pop an uncooked pie or sausage roll in the PieAce, set it to the desired temperature using the buttons on the steering wheel, and away you go. An alarm on the dash lets the driver know when the pie is cooked and ready to eat. When it's safe to do so, the driver can bring the HiAce to a complete stop to open up the rear tailgate to access the retractable PieAce," explained Brodie Bott, Toyota's head of public affairs, in a statement.

Toyota calls the HiAce convertible a game-changer, especially when it's equipped with the PieAce oven, but the company has no plans to sell it in the United States. Don't look for it in Australian showrooms anytime soon, either.

"Happy April Fool's day,"Bott added.

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