The Toyota FT-1, a sports car inspired by past classic Toyotas such as the Supra, has been unveiled at the Detroit motor show. The vehicle marks the start in the new chapter of Toyota design philosophy that will result in more passionate, exciting vehicles.
The car is described by its maker as "a true enthusiast's track car in the lineage of the 2000GT and Supra". The name FT-1 stands for 'Future Toyota', with the number one representing "the ultimate world-class sports car with the ultimate performance envelope".
Although Toyota won't be drawn on technical specifics of the FT-1, company sources did confirm that it has a combustion engine only, with no hybrid system. Performance from the engine is described as "high output".
The FT-1's front engine/rear-wheel drive configuration allows the cockpit to sit further towards the rear of the car, within the wheelbase, helping to improve weight distribution and creating classic sports car proportions. The wraparound windscreen and side glass arrangement are a clear nod to the design of the original 2000GT.
The cockpit is described as a "delta-shaped display zone. This helps to make the driver feel at the heart of the action, fully connected to the car". It features a Formula 1-inspired steering wheel and a colour head-up display that projects key information just above the wheel.
The FT-1 was conceived at Toyota's Calty design research centre in California. Calty president Kevin Hunter said the philosophy behind the car marked a radical change in the way Toyota's products are designed. "Not long ago [Toyota boss] Akio Toyoda challenged his designers to create cars that sparked people's emotions," he said. "Cars that make them say, 'I want this, I have to have this'. His message has always been very simple: make it cool. Toyota's designers are absolutely passionate about designing cool cars. Our goal at Calty was to answer that challenge by creating a truly exciting, high-performance halo sports car.
"Beyond its obvious visual impact, FT-1 is symbolic of a new chapter for Toyota global design. This concept truly captures the passion, excitement and energy of the Toyota we are evolving into. It embodies elements of the emotion and performance that we will imprint upon future production designs.
"For many years Toyota has approached product development relying on a strong influence from the market through consumer studies and a degree of internal consensus. The goal was to produce a vehicle that was liked by everyone. As a result, we took less risk and tried not to stray too far from designs that had been a success.
"Now Toyota's design efforts are less reliant on consensus. We have empowered our designers and engineers to make a creative and passionate vision of future mobility. The goal is simple yet profound: develop future generations of products that connect on an emotional level. As a result of this new global commitment, we expect to develop the most capable, exciting generation of vehicles the company has ever produced."
A Toyota source told Autocar that the FT-1 is not part of the Japanese manufacturer's collaboration with BMW; that tie-up is for hybrid sports car projects only.
The Toyota FT-1 will be added as a download to Gran Turismo 6 from tomorrow. Company chief Akio Toyoda's first-ever look at the FT-1 was via the virtual version in the computer game.