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Toyota reveals Baby Lunar concept

Retro-styled EV celebrates 50 years of Toyota design in the US, hints at new Bundera

6 Oct 2023

MOVE over Mars Rover, Toyota has upped the interplanetary exploration stakes with a wild new Baby Lunar Cruiser concept vehicle that looks fresh out of Star Wars.


The Baby Lunar Cruiser is the latest concept vehicle teased by Calty Design Research, the US arm of Toyota’s global design network, as it celebrates five decades of success.


From the wildly popular Tacoma to out-of-the-box icons like the ‘baby muscle car’ RA28 Celica liftback, Calty has continued to push the envelope with its ever-changing design language centred around daring designs.


In the mid 1970s, the firm even came up with a wacky, futuristic camper trailer concept, a testament to its experimental approach to design.


Calty also produced high-performance mid-engined performance concepts in the 1980s and, while the MX-1 and MX-2 never saw the light of day, the MR2 came out shortly after which was in many ways a pared back version of the scissor-door supercars.


In an age of rather unexciting road cars, Calty continues to turn out wildly experimental designs and the latest is an off-roader built to “conquer rugged terrain on Earth and beyond”, with FJ40 styling cues and airless tyres.


Not much is known about the Baby Lunar Cruiser, which is a pint-sized version of the actual space-going Lunar Cruiser jointly developed by Toyota and JAXA. Its big brother has a pressurised cabin and 45-day range for Moon exploration, courtesy of a hydrogen fuel cell powertrain, which the Baby model is unlikely to get.


Renders suggest the Baby Luner Cruiser is operated using two joysticks, with a digital screen for a dashboard and digital readouts on the exterior of the vehicle. 


Even if it is just a road-going rover dream for those of us who weren’t cut out to be astronauts, it is sure to gain the interest of techy beachgoers, wanting an otherworldly experience when hitting Australia’s various sand islands.


Back in the land of reality, Toyota is also rumoured to be developing a smaller version of its LandCruiser model to rival the Suzuki Jimny.


Japanese media titles Best Car and Magazine X have both reported on the mini LandCruiser, a five-door small 4x4 that could compete in the relatively uncontested but increasingly relevant market segment (think a modern remake of the popular Bundera).


Little is known, but both outlets suggested it would measure up around the same size as the Corolla Cross SUV, while standing as tall as the new Prado. 


Powertrain details have been rumoured to be hybrid diesel and or petrol but, although at this stage it is all speculation, both media outlets are said to have a reliable track record for leaking vehicle information.


Amidst the rumours, it is worth noting that Toyota filed a trademark for the ‘Land Hopper’ model name in August this year, spotted by eagle-eyed users on the Land Cruiser Forum


Whether the Baby Lunar Cruiser will ever hit Aussie roads is unlikely but, if we know one thing for sure, flat tyres will be a thing of the past. It is more likely, however, given the Suzuki Jimny’s success, that a ‘Land Hopper’ or mini LandCruiser model will eventually reach our shores. 

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