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Tokyo show: Yamaha stuns with sportscar concept

Streaming live: The in-house-designed Sports Ride concept features an all-new carbon-fibre chassis developed by McLaren F1 godfather Gordon Murray.

Sexy two-seater compact coupe draws huge crowds to Yamaha stand at Tokyo show

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Yamaha logo29 Oct 2015

By TERRY MARTIN

ONE of the biggest attractions at the Tokyo motor show this week came not from a traditional car-maker but from two-wheeled brand Yamaha, which stopped show-goers in their tracks with the unveiling of its sexy Sports Ride coupe concept.

The compact two-seater tips the scales at just 750kg and measures 3900mm long – the same from end to end as Toyota’s sub-86 S-FR concept that also premiered in Tokyo, although the Yamaha’s 1720mm width and 1320mm height gives it a slightly bigger footprint.

Yamaha is no stranger to the automobile sector, partnering with big-name brands like Lexus and Volvo in areas such as suspension and powertrain – co-developing the Lexus LFA’s 4.8-litre V10, for example, and the 4.4 V8 in Volvo’s first XC90 – and also forging a partnership with legendary British designer Gordon Murray, which brought the Motiv.e electric city car concept to the Tokyo show in 2013 and is now reportedly set to reach production around 2019.

With the triple tuning fork badge prominent on the sculptural nose of the Sports Ride coupe, Yamaha has again employed Murray’s cost-effective ‘iStream’ flexible manufacturing process that in this case uses a lightweight, high-rigidity carbon-fibre chassis.

The styling is the handiwork of ex-Toyota designer Akihiro ‘Dezi’ Nagaya – not Prof Murray, who is the man behind the McLaren F1 – and in the brief material released at the show Yamaha said the design concept “takes a uniquely Yamaha approach by putting the involved and active feeling of riding a motorcycle, or ‘Live and Ride’, into a vehicle with quintessential sportscar proportions”.

“Like the Motiv.e displayed at the 43rd Tokyo motor show (in) 2013, it employs Gordon Murray’s iStream process and is designed to express a driver-machine relationship close in feeling to the world of motorcycle riding.

“We devoted much attention to the high-quality details and were inspired by the artistic style of elementarism in designing this proposal for a sportscar.”

No powertrain details have been provided, but overseas reports indicate an updated version of the 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine used in the Motiv.e would be a natural fit.

Prof Murray said the Sports Ride concept debuts a new system that replaces the glass content in iStream with carbon-fibre to offer even better performance in terms of light weight and rigidity.

“Light-weighting is the final frontier in the automotive industry fight to lower emissions,” he said.

“There have been great strides forward in engine design, electrical control systems, tyre design and transmission technology, but we are now experiencing a plateau in the advance of technology where the law of diminishing returns comes into play. A step change in vehicle weight to enable downsizing of powertrain and components is all we have left in the armoury.

“Light weighting is important for internal combustion-engined cars, but even more important for hybrids and electric vehicles.”

Prof Murray described the carbon-based iStream system as “that step change” – “the world’s first affordable, high-volume bonded composite structure which sets new standards of safety, rigidity and durability”.

He also revealed that the company is working on seven vehicles using its original fibreglass-based iStream technology.

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