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Monday, 13 January 2014

Toyota FT-1: The Real Supra Simulator

2014 Toyota FT-1 Concept poses with the people who made it
OK OK, first of all, yes, Toyota did say in November 2012 that they were developing a new Mk.V Supra sports car. Second of all, yes, this is a sleek sports coupé concept by Toyota that would be about the right size. But no, Toyota themselves have not tied this to that in any way whatsoever. It would therefore be wrong to assume that the FT-1 Concept you see here is actually an un-diluted concept-y version of the mighty Supra's successor. But if you want to pretend that it is in fact previewing such a car, then fine. I won't stop you.

Right, now that we've got that out of the way, let's introduce this car properly. Toyota has been trying hard to eschew its stale image in recent years, giving us both the glorious Lexus LFA supercar and the much more down-to-Earth (yet old-school) party machine, the GT86. Two years ago, Toyota USA's "CALTY" design studio in California started work on an aggressive sports coupé, and unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show today is the fruit of their labour. Featuring a mystery petrol engine and no hybrid system, the FT-1 takes the two aforementioned cars - or rather the FT-86 and LFA concepts that spawned them - melds them together and then moves the result on a step further. Just take a look at this thing!

"FT" means "Future Toyota" and is a nomenclature used on all their concepts... that point towards a future road car.
Two exhaust pipes, but for how many cylinders? Toyota won't say
It looks pretty extreme, doesn't it? The proportions are a dramatic take on the classic sports car shape - long, low bonnet, swept-back double-bubble roof, short cut-off tail - while the styling is anything but conservative. Up front the skinny headlights frame an F1-style nose that's flanked at the bottom by a two-part front splitter and twin grilles with exposed cooling fans in them. The Formula 1 influences continue at the back with a large diffuser and an LED imitation of the rectangular "Rain Light" just above it. The surfacing all around it is as aggressive as we've come to expect by 2014, but the creases are softer than usual, giving it a slightly more sensuous, wind-swept feel. The front wheel arch is staggered thanks to a TVR Sagaris-style heat vent that looks like someone hit the clay design model with an axe, while the Blackpool Bruiser has also been mentioned at the sight of that vertical rear spoiler (integrated rather than the TVR's plastic gurney flap) stopping the tail so quickly after the sloping roofline which Toyota say references the 2000GT. It is slightly unfortunate that from some angles it just so happens to look like a Corvette C7 if you relax your eyes and stand back, but I suppose it was designed in America so there could be a subliminal influence there. Chances are it's a coincidence, though. The wheel arch vent, windowline and roof line are all similar to the FT-86 of 2009.

Large pop-up wing is enough to make you think of the Lexus LFA supercar. There have been rumors that that will be replaced, too
Of course, the shape wasn't just defined by marker pens, clay and CAD. It was also defined by the air. The large air intakes just after the doors appear to be air channels that send air past the rear wheels and out under the tail lights, while the very low and pointy nose with its exposed fans also consider fast-moving airflow. An electrically-actuated rear wing can appear when extra downforce is needed, but I don't think it doubles as an air brake. Perhaps the slits under the headlights channel air to the vents behind the front wheels as well? Who knows. All I know is that this car looks great. Actually, something I also know is that tomorrow (14th January), you can drive this car yourself in any of 37 locations, because amazingly, the people at Polyphony Digital have already got the FT-1 ready to put into Gran Turismo 6. All you have to do is download a small update, go to the online Seasonal Events, complete a time trial with at least a bronze trophy and you win the car! Magic.

For more pictures and a video of the virtual FT-1, click here. There appears to be a choice of at least 3 colours for it
Also of note is that the update that puts this car in the game also includes an interior view for the BMW M4 Coupé
If you want to see more (real-life) angles of this dramatic concept sports coupé, click here. Oh, I almost forgot, it also has an interior. Unless you're into concept car interior design, though, it's utterly irrelevant. If this was turned into a production model, the interior would be only vaguely similar at best. Also, on that note, you can't help but think that some of the rest of the design might be toned down a little too, if it does indeed turn into the next Toyota Supra. The bonnet window would go, the waistline would likely be just a little bit higher, the details would be less extreme and it would probably get a slightly more pedestrian-friendly nose. But hopefully the process doesn't dilute it as much as cynics might suggest, because as it is, this is one striking machine. I can't wait to sort-of find out how it drives.

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