I’m not certain I have a solid grip on reality as it exists in 2014. To me, the dividing line where real life ends and the virtual world begins seems to have blurred to a point that I can no longer clearly distinguish.
That feeling was emphasised on Monday when Toyota pulled the surprise of the Detroit motor show by unveiling a striking new concept, the FT-1, which some industry experts believe points towards a revival of the Supra nameplate.
Toyota stopped short of confirming that, although it did reference the Supra and the 2000GT during the presentation, so it doesn’t require a rocket scientist to work out where the Japanese manufacturer is heading.
Also during the reveal, it was announced that the Toyota FT-1 would be available in downloadable virtual form on Gran Turismo 6 driving game on the PlayStation from Tuesday.
What a clever way to build on the buzz created by your outlandishly exciting new concept. By the time our motorsport blogger and Motorsport News editor James Attwood had fired up his PlayStation for us to have a go, several hundred thousand gamers had already driven the virtual FT-1.
I mentally grapple with the prospect of a conceptual car that may or may not spawn a production version in the future appearing in virtual form so that gamers can have a make-believe taste of how the FT-1 may or may not drive.
No official performance data is available for the FT-1, either as a ‘real’ concept or in GT6’s virtual world. However, we can deduce from what’s in the game is that the sports car is front-engined, rear-drive, has a 51/49 front/rear weight distribution and uses an unspecified turbocharged engine. With no added hybrid technology, which is interesting.
GT6 features a rather ambitious 18-mile oval, Route X, which makes an effective straight-line proving ground due to its 7.64-mile straights.
Using high-tech telemetry equipment (the stopwatch on an iPhone 4, basically) we calculated that the virtual FT-1 is capable of a sub-4.0sec 0-60mph.
The best time we saw was 3.7sec when we bolted on a set of soft-compound road tyres and switched to the manual transmission. From a standstill, 100mph comes up in less than eight seconds.The FT-1 maxed out at 183mph in sixth gear, hitting an 8000rpm rev limiter. In-gear speeds were: 1st – 41mph; 2nd – 63mph; 3rd – 89mph; 4th – 119mph; 5th – 152mph.
So what can we deduce from the virtual FT-1? Well, absolutely nothing, of course, because there’s a disclaimer that states the car has been given nominal performance figures. Reading that in the game was enough to destroy my fragile perception of where real life ends and fantasy begins.
But this is just fantasy, so we can imagine our own production car from the concept. Design-wise, smooth out that attention-grabbing conceptual front, lose the outrageous air scoops but retain plenty of attitude and those sinister-looking lights.
Shrink the car slightly – Toyota says the concept’s size is exaggerated for motor show impact – but keep the basic proportions, the swept-back cabin, the pop-up rear wing, the 2000GT-style wraparound windscreen and that rear end with a hint of modern Maranello about it.
If propulsion remains internal combustion engine only, perhaps aim for a mid-400bhp figure, although use the lessons learned from the GT86 to ensure that driveability and perfect poise take precedence over headline-grabbing brutish power figures.
In short, be encouraged, Toyota, and don’t let the FT-1 simply exist in the virtual world.