Toyota Motor Corp. allowed Automotive News unparalleled, exclusive access inside its Calty Design Studio in Newport Beach, Calif., to witness and track the development of the FT-1 concept sports car.
Mark your calendars for 2016 and 2017.Radical coupe concept to morph into a born-again Supra; Toyota also developing sub-86 hybrid sports car
One of the hottest concepts unveiled at last month’s Detroit motor show was Toyota’s FT-1. No one will argue that point. What is controversial is how much meaning this radically styled coupe has in the real world.
While Toyota heads were saying the car was merely a concept conceived to celebrate the Calty design studio’s 40th anniversary as well as pay tribute to Polyphony Digital’s ‘Vision Gran Turismo’ project, major publications were purporting the FT-1 to be the next-generation Supra.
Now we have the definitive verdict: It is. But there is another sports car in the mix as well. After a mandate from Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda calling for “cars that touch the heart”, a source close to Toyota has confirmed the company is busy developing not only the FT-1 as the next Supra, but a smaller sports car too.
“Priced at around $16,000 (in the US), this entry-level sports coupe will slot into the line-up under the successful 86,” says our insider.
Developed within a new sports car division headed up by none other than 86 chief engineer Tetsuya Tada, our source says these two next-generation coupes will form the base for a whole range of sports cars set to start joining the line-up from 2016.
Word from Toyoda went something like this. “If the FT-1 makes a good strong impression on the market, then we will add it to the line-up.”
We think Toyota knew this car was going to be a smash hit, because from what we are hearing it’s already well into the development phase. But don’t expect the finished product to land in showrooms looking like this. Our source says those sharp lines, scoops and edges will definitely be “softened” for the market.
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen an aggressively styled coupe boasting some of Toyota’s best hybrid hardware. The FT-HS concept coupe received rave reviews when it was unveiled in Detroit in 2007.
But the global financial crisis soon put this project on the back-burner, as car-makers were forced to tighten their belts. Now in 2014, Toyota is back with even raunchier styling and two powertrains.
The entry-level variant is expected to incorporate a turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol-four from the upcoming Lexus NX, while the flagship will employ a 2.5-litre turbo V6 hybrid powertrain generating more than 300kW.
Obviously the new Supra will be rear-wheel drive but it is also strongly rumoured to employ an LFA-style rear transaxle, meaning the new Supra could sell for less than $100,000 when it appears in showrooms as early as 2016.
Meanwhile, the smaller sports coupe said to slot in under the 86 should be powered by a 1.5-litre hybrid set-up and is set for a 2017 debut.
Front 3/4 View
1 The blunt center evokes thoughts of the classic Cord 810’s “coffin nose”—and the Panoz Le Mans cars from a decade or more ago.
2 An awful lot of scoopin’ goin’ on in this front-end design: big holes on either side of the central nacelle and good-size ones cooling the front tires, apparently.
3 Triple round lamps recall Jean-Paul Oyono’s Alfa Romeo design study for Zagato, later picked up by Giorgetto Giugiaro for his Alfa Romeo Brera and other Alfas.
4 Fake air-deflecting blades are all the rage among stylists right now, but these can’t do anything real; they’re solid to the body and just add drag.
5 Handsome huge wheels are not very race-car-like, generating far too much turbulence.
6 The door skins are exceptionally convoluted and become an impressive sculpture all by themselves if removed from the car.
7 So what’s behind these huge holes that needs cooling? Radiators? Then why the huge holes up front? Terrific styling, questionable design.
8 A particularly nice detail is the glass-to-glass joint outside the A-pillar, carrying a tint all the way around the sides.
9 Double-bubble roof is again a sort of must-have cliché, from Abarth to Zagato, with Corvette, Mazda, and others riding along.
10 Transparent covers for engine compartments are getting to be standard on high-level sports cars. Nice for bystanders, but one wonders about keeping them clean.
Rear 3/4 View
11 Very small outlet for so much air scooped in up front. There’s no question that hot air has to get out, and this is probably not big enough.
12 These ribs are pure styling, Hunter admitted, but TRD says it might help push air toward the center and the gigantic retractable wing.
13 Yep, have to have a fuel filler as a design element. But for Le Mans, it ought to be on the right-hand side of the car . . .
14 The surface between this sharp line and the backlight is a wing mounted on four struts (presumably hydraulic) that lift and tilt the panel.
15 These squared-up corners clash more than a little with the rounded spoiler, body, and fender cross-sections through the wheels and really don’t make sense.
16 Bulbous surround for the exhaust pipes evoke 1950s “jet pod” details on show cars. Exhaust tips are cut at an angle, as though pointing outward.
17 Another nonfunctional air-deflector blade, again glued to the surface behind it so no air can pass between it and the body. But cool looking, right?
18 This sow-belly sagging curve recalls some BMW concept cars and the Z3. It doesn’t appear to do anything useful, but again, it looks serious.
19 The moderately tight radius running from the bottom of the front outlet to the top of the rear inlet gives some definition to the body side, and, of course, the convolutions beneath it strengthen the door panel.
20 The pedal assembly is a work of beauty, all precision-machined. The bottom hinging is slightly out of the past, but it worked well for many of the world’s best cars.
21 The feeling of a single-seat cockpit for the driver is emphasized by the metallic section that rises from the central tunnel and continues on the door.
22 The head-up display panel is configured like an old-time racing windscreen, a nice, rather poetic touch.
23 A clever and useful indicator in the steering-wheel rim tells what gear you’re in and how quickly you’re approaching the redline. Surprisingly, it’s not at all distracting.
24 The seats aren’t racing-car light but are very beautiful in execution.
Nobody is complaining about the same features on the LFA. Cooling both up front and in the back, with a rear transaxle. If the FT-1 has the same setup and combines a Turbo engine with hybrid components then it's not a questionable design at all.7 So what’s behind these huge holes that needs cooling? Radiators? Then why the huge holes up front? Terrific styling, questionable design.
Really? Did he have nothing better to say? That's why we have Windex. Remove the panel and clean it on both sides. :shrugs:10 Transparent covers for engine compartments are getting to be standard on high-level sports cars. Nice for bystanders, but one wonders about keeping them clean.
Who says all the air in the front comes out at the fenders.11 Very small outlet for so much air scooped in up front. There’s no question that hot air has to get out, and this is probably not big enough.