News - Toyota - Sportivo Coupe concept
First look: Toyota’s youthful coupe
Toyota's Melbourne show concept coupe is jammed with techno ideas
27 Feb 2004
By BRUCE NEWTON
TOYOTA Australia’s determination to break out of its respected but unloved persona is highlighted by a dramatic concept car launched at the Melbourne motor show today.
Called the Sportivo Coupe, it embodies many of the issues the local arm of Toyota is grappling with as it looks to develop its business into the future.
These include the need to capture a younger audience erasing its mundane image a desire to promote the Sportivo brand name and the necessity to develop its design and engineering talent and capacity and promote that ability here and overseas.
All up, the cost of bringing the Sportivo Coupe to life – and it is a runner – has been put at more than $1 million. Approved by the local Toyota board only last July, it went from concept to reality in 30 weeks.
The inspiration for Sportivo Coupe comes not only from inside Toyota but also from more than 100 Sydney and Melbourne 14 to 18-year-olds the company surveyed to discover what they felt were important features in a car.
"Personal mobility and communications were what came out as being very important," said project manager Paul Beranager.
"They saw the use of the car as being an urban mobility thing, although some of them wanted to have a bit more of a race around and enjoy the performance, so it was a bit of a balance." What emerged is a concept in the true sense of the word – designed to stimulate debate and thought rather than being simply a mildly disguised future production car. This car is very unlikely to ever see production, although design elements are bound to turn up.
Toyota goes as far as to claim Sportivo Coupe as the first "pure" concept car produced by a local manufacturer since the Holden Hurricane in 1969. Toyota now dismisses its first local concept, the X-Runner revealed at the Melbourne motor show last year, as a derivative of a production car.
Toyota’s claim is going to be hotly debated and undoubtedly rejected by some – notably Mike Simcoe and the small team at Holden which secretly created the Holden Coupe in 1998. This car subsequently went into production as the new-age Monaro and is now sold in the US as the reborn Pontiac GTO.
Sportivo Coupe features an all-new two-door body designed by 29-year-old Nick Hogios, the former Wheels magazine young designer of the year who first worked at Ford. Highlights of his design include the use of about 380 LED lights, dihedral doors that hinge up and forwards instead of outwards, the extensive use of glass panels and bodywork shaped in carbon-fibre composite.
That is bonded to a tubular steel chassis and draped over a bespoke four-seat interior which has a driver-centric control area, including a flat screen instrument panel, push-button start and park brake and a seat design different to all other passengers.
Information and entertainment systems are included for front and rear seat passenger and the screens are portable, able to be detached and used as lap top computers remote from the car.
The Sportivo Coupe is powered by a 180kW/305Nm 2.4-litre turbocharged VVT-i four-cylinder engine mated to a five-speed manual gearbox and the all-wheel drive system adapted from the RAV4 soft-roader. But this car has no off-road capability.
A PBR-developed brake system is housed inside a massive 21-inch wheel and tyre combination, while underpinning all this is the suspension (albeit retuned) and platform from the current 380N Camry.
But just as interesting and more individual are some advanced electronic systems that feature in this car, which Toyota is already discussing with government authorities.
Called T-Link, this electronic system is based around the driver’s license, which is a mobile phone-style SIM card that would be embedded with a host of data.
The licence would not only allow the driver access to the car, but also provides individual settings for driving position, radio stations, phone numbers, GPS tracking data for friends and even engine output.
The system even allows the personal electronic licence number of the driver to be displayed on the number plate, as well as P, L or handicap plates if applicable.
Toyota says speeding fines, tollway charges and even parking fines could be sent through T-Link to the driver responsible, rather than the car owner.
Mr Beranger rejects any suggestions that T-Link has overtones of big brother.
"I struggle personally to understand the problem because we are not adding intrusive technology in the personal sense. The fact that the car has the driver's number on it rather than the owner's - that’s been there for 100 years, so what?" he said.
Another innovation is the digital speedometer that reconfigures its analogue-style display so that the prevailing speed limit is always located in the 12 o’clock position.
The third electronic innovation is the use of GPS ‘Friend Finder’ tracking. That enables the occupants of Sportivo Coupe to see where their friends are through icons on a screen and allow the occupants to navigate electronically to a central meeting point.
"The technology we are showing in this car would not be owned by Toyota," Mr Beranger said. "Effectively, Toyota’s innovative technical concepts would be the property of the regulators and industry.
"The options we are presenting here could be progressively introduced over the next five to 10 years and industry would work collaboratively with government to make it happen." Specifications:
Two-door coupe with ‘dihedral’ doors
Bodywork: Carbon-fibre panels bonded to tubular steel frame integrated with Toyota Modular Platform. Satin paint finish
Engine: 2.4-litre, four-cylinder, twin camshafts, four valves per cylinder, turbocharged with intercooler
Power: 180kW at 5500rpm
305Nm at 4500rpm
Five-speed manual gearbox, four-wheel drive
Suspension (front and rear):
Independent struts with coil springs, hydraulic dampers and ball-joint linked stabiliser bar
Special 21-inch alloys 9-inch wide front, 10-inch wide rear
Dunlop SP Sport 9000 245/35ZR21 front, 285/30ZR21 rear
PBR Performance brakes with vented and drilled rotors 380mm front, 355mm rear. Six-piston front callipers, four-piston rear callipers
Electronic actuation with centre console-mounted button. Banksia-type shoe inside rear rotor
Power-assisted rack and pinion
Individual bucket seats for four people
LED headlights, foglights strip, tail-lights and turn signal indicators
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