Never mind the upcoming auto shows in Los Angeles and Detroit. The Tokyo Motor Show starts at the end of October and the models to be displayed by Toyota alone are reason enough to keep our eyes on this show.
Today, Toyota released photos of three concept vehicles as well as a pint-sized robot, but of the three and the cyborg it is the S-FR concept sports car that will likely spawn the most attention. That’s because the footprint of the concept appears suspiciously close to the Mazda MX-5 Miata, the bellwether model for all things affordable sports car.
Very little is known about a vehicle that is designed with a gaping maw, a long hood, a sports car profile and a distinctive rear diffuser. Inside, it has a 2+2 arrangement, for a model that is about one foot shorter than the Scion FR-S. Specifically, the concept sits on a 97.6-inch wheelbase and measures 157.1 inches long by 66.7 inches wide by 52 inches tall.
The name similarity has some suggesting that the model is the next generation FR-S, itself built with Subaru. Others have suggested that the vehicle is derived from the Mazda MX-5 Miata even though the Mazda’s dimensions are a foot shorter between the wheels and the Miata sits lower and wider. In any case, both companies have forged business deals with Toyota, with future joint products expected.
Regardless of the origin — which could have been accomplished entirely in house — the delectable design is certain to attract an outsized share of press attention when it makes its official debut in just over two weeks.
Among the tidbits Toyota has shared in advance of its official debut, the automaker says the “…concept vehicle that continues the proud heritage of Toyota’s fun-to-drive lightweight sports cars.” Toyota also claims the sports car “…offers smooth, responsive and direct handling that gives a real sense of communication between car and driver―one key benefit of the FR (front engine/rear drive) format.”
No engine of any kind is mentioned, but Toyota took pains to state that is comes with a “…six-speed manual transmission offers smooth acceleration, adding to the car’s fun, responsive drive.” The automaker hinted that the vehicle will attract people who enjoying driving and customizing it.
Beyond the scant details, we must remind you that the car is but a concept. However, with the brand currently lacking the type of performance models that fans have long wanted, such a vehicle could become a production reality. We won’t know much more about the Toyota S-FR concept until the company’s press conference at the Toyota Motor Show later this month. Stay tuned….
Other Concepts and About That Robot
The two other models on tap are the Toyota FCV Plus and the Toyota Kikai. The FCV Plus is a futuristic fuel cell vehicle with a glass-dominated greenhouse. The fuel stack is mounted between the front tires and the hydrogen tank is located behind the rear seat. Toyota says that the concept has independent in-wheel motors in all four wheels in a bid to maximize cabin size.
The Toyota Kikai has the look and feel of a dune buggy. This model has a centered driver’s seat with a second row seat for two more people. With Kikai, the emphasis is on the vehicle’s machinery as the inner workings are exposed on the exterior. A small window at the driver’s feet provides a unique view of the tires and the suspension system at work.
As for the Kirobo Mini robot, it is based on the larger Kirobo astronaut. The mini version senses human gestures and responds accordingly, what Toyota says brings “…smiles to their faces.” Cute as it is, one has to wonder if it will replace human interaction — we humans are obsessed with our electronic devices and could use authentic interaction with real people.
Photos copyright Toyota Motor Corporation.