The concept car is a celebration of engineering. Its insides are on the outside, so you can see all the working parts - 1.5-litre engine, suspension, steering and safety cell.
Setting aside the practical challenges of having a car’s working parts so exposed to the elements, I asked Kazuo Suyama, project leader behind the funky car, what inspired it.
“In modern cars, it is very hard for young people to see the movement of the steering wheel and the suspension. Usually designers draw beautiful lines to create cars but I think engineering is beautiful, so we didn’t need to touch it,” he said.
The Kikai - which draws power from a 1.5-litre petrol-electric powertrain - features a 1+2 seating arrangement that puts the driver at the heart of the action.
It has sliding doors and a glass front bulkhead similar to a helicopter, so the driver can see the road passing under his feet.
“We wanted to create a real connection between the driving seat, the car and the road,” said Suyama.
However, he noted during the car's development that some women might not wish onlookers to be able to see in when they’re seated, so with a flick of a switch the glass panel turns opaque.
The fluid reservoirs are all exposed at the front, along with the aluminium subframes and carbonfibre passenger cell. Suyama wouldn’t reveal the vehicle’s weight, but well under a tonne would seem feasible.
Toyota worked with several partners on the project, including GK Dynamics, a Japanese company that specialises in building motorcycles, which tend to feature more of their working parts on display than cars.
Kikai is very much a personal project for Suyama-san, which explains his unbridled passion for it. “The task was to create a new mobility type that did not exist in the past,” he said. “We want to create a new car segment.”
What he doesn’t know is whether Toyota chiefs will ever commission him to make a production version. Due to the cost of some of the materials used in its construction, it seems unlikely until the price of them falls to a reasonable amount.
“We do not have a decision, but we hope that the reaction to the car here at the show is good,” he said.
I’m sold already. It’s a car that could make young people fall in love with engineering.