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Tokyo show: Toyota reveals concept trio

Fuel for thought: Toyota says its fuel-cell stacks form the FCV Plus concept could be used as an electricity generating device to power communities in the future.

Fuel-cell tech, sub-86 sportscar and tiny robot to star on Toyota stand

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Toyota logo9 Oct 2015

By TIM NICHOLSON

TOYOTA has revealed its trio of quirky concepts that it will roll out at the Tokyo motor show later this month, including a sub-86 entry level sportscar.

The tiny S-FR concept is just 3990mm long, 1695mm wide and 1320mm high, making it about 250mm shorter than its larger 86 sibling, but not as petite as Honda's S660 ‘kei’ sportscar.

It is unclear if the S-FR will make it to production, but there were media reports earlier this year that Toyota was considering a baby sportscar to sit below its 86 coupe.

While the 86 has been a smash hit on Australian soil, the rear-drive coupe has not had the impact globally that Toyota was hoping for, making a case for a smaller sportster harder to justify.

Toyota describes the S-FR as “incredibly light”, and while it has not provided powertrain or performance details, said it offers smooth, responsive and direct handling, a key benefit of a front engine, rear-drive layout.

The exterior design takes cues from the 86, but is also reminiscent of the oddball 1960s Toyota Sports 800 that was in production for just four years between 1965 and 1969.

It features a gaping grille up front, upright windscreen and rounded body, and is shown in the images in a bright yellow body colour.

Whatever form the engine takes, it is paired with a six-speed manual gearbox, and the company says its weight distribution and independent suspension “make for outstanding cornering performance”.

The Japanese car-maker said the S-FR could gain a cult following, if it gets the green light for production.

“The Toyota S-FR was conceptualised as the kind of vehicle that attracts its own die-hard fan base, whose members love driving and customising it,” the statement read.

Helping Toyota’s global push to embrace hydrogen as the next big alternative fuel is the futuristic FCV Plus concept, which, according to the car-maker can generate electricity directly from a source of hydrogen other than its own tank, allowing it to become a source of power at home.

This energy can be shared with communities as part of the local energy infrastructure and could “contribute significantly to local communities,” said the company.

The fuel-cell stack in the concept is housed between the front wheels, while the hydrogen tank sits behind the rear seat. It uses in-wheel motors for each of the four wheels allowing for extra cabin space.

The FCV Plus has a futuristic pod-like design with blue glazing and two large air intakes up front.

Completing the trio of Tokyo premiers will be the Kikai, which takes an inside-out approach to design by having the machinery and componentry, which is normally covered by paneling, on display for all to see.

The mechanical bug-like concept even has a small window at the driver’s feet so they can see the movement of the suspension and wheels as well as the “rush of speed along the road surface”.

Inside, there is seating for three occupants with the driver’s seat located centrally at the front of the cabin similar to the layout of the McLaren F1 supercar.

Toyota says the unorthodox approach offers a more sensory connection with the vehicle, and allows the driver to better see the movements of the upper control arm through the windscreen.

“While most vehicles conceal their inner workings beneath smooth sheet metal, this concept encourages us to appreciate the complex beauty of the mechanical aspects of cars. More broadly, it reminds us of the appeal of the physical and tactile in a digital age,” Toyota said in a press release.

A tiny robot, or “communication partner” named Kirobo Mini will also be on show. Toyota says it was created “to be able to accompany its owners everywhere and communicate with them in a meaningful way”.

The Japanese automotive giant will also display its latest-generation Prius hybrid hero, and the C-HR concept that previews a new sub-compact crossover – both of which made their debut at the Frankfurt motor show last month.

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