"It looks like some kind of deformed fish," said Autocar's picture editor Ben when I showed him a picture of the new Toyota FT-Bh shortly after the dust sheet was pulled off the new car at the Geneva motor show today.
Hmm, one man's boeuf is clearly another man's poisson, because I was smitten by the detailed, intricate lines of Toyota's new eco-concept and intrigued by the technology that underpins the machine.
Like any self-respecting car manufacturer, Toyota is preparing to mount a major 'green' offensive over the coming years, with wide-reaching plans to slash CO2 emissions, and introduce a range of fuel cell, plug-in and full hybrid production cars.
"One year ago I challenged our engineers and designers to come up with a vehicle that was totally designed around fuel efficiency," explained Toyota Europe boss Dider Leroy. "The FT-Bh is the result."
The name stands for "Future Toyota, B-segment hybrid‚" and is the firm's vision of the kind of vehicle we might see in the car market's most hotly constested segment in the future.
The front-drive car is powered by Toyota's Hybrid System with a one-litre two-cylinder petrol engine. The FT-Bh seats four, is less than 4000mm long and weighs just 786kgs - 33 per cent less than a Yaris. The shape, those distinctive wheel covers and some new low-drag Michelin tyres mean the FT-Bh has a drag coefficient of just 0.235Cd.
CO2 emissions are as low as 49g/km, while the FT-Bh will in theory do 134 miles to the gallon. In addition to the FT-Bh on display, Toyota has conceived a compressed natural gas hybrid version with CO2 emissions of 38g/km and a plug-in hybrid that pumps out just 19g/km.
Okay, the 'distinctive' lines of the FT-Bh might be something of an acquired taste, but it could prove to be a very significant car in Toyota's history.
It was produced using conventional production methods, with no exotic materials involved, and therefore it is conceivable that some of the technology could appear on other cars in the Toyota line-up. It could be built for sale as a high-volume B-segment product.
"We will gear up to transfer the technology to bigger Toyotas," said Leroy, adding that in a couple of months his company will pass the four million mark for hybrid sales around the world.