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Aussie Toyota concept heads for Japan

Local angle: The Sportivo concept is a two-door four-seat sports coupe with locally designed exterior and interior.

Sportivo Coupe concept to go under the microscope at Toyota City

2 Jun 2004

TOYOTA Australia’s Melbourne motor show star, the Sportivo Coupe concept, will soon be winging its way to Japan for a close-up inspection by the company’s technical chiefs.

The car is due at the TMC Technical Centre at Toyota City, on the outskirts of Nagoya, in late July.

The request from HQ is a big win for Toyota Australia and its two-year-old design department, Toyota Style Australia.

The first concept produced by TSA, the X-Runner all-wheel drive utility, never made it to Japan.

"I think they have an overall interest in what Australia can do," TSA boss Paul Beranger said.

"Outside Toyota in Japan not a lot of this stuff has happened before. Australia is really demonstrating what Toyota and the component industry is capable of to our parent company." The Sportivo concept is a two-door four-seat sports coupe with locally designed exterior and interior, powered by a 180kW turbocharged version of the 2.4-litre 2AZ-FE engine from the four-cylinder Camry.

The underpinnings for the car are a ‘Hokkaido’ specification four-wheel drive Camry, uniquely mated to a five-speed manual transmission.

Toyota Australia heavily promoted the car’s electronics and telematics at the Melbourne motor show launch, labelling the system T-Link.

It developed the concept based on feedback from 14 to 18-year-olds, pitching it very much as a car for future generations of drivers.

8 center image Objectives of the Sportivo 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.

The car was built in just 30 weeks, that timetable able to be met because the project team did not do a full-size clay model of the car, instead designing the car virtually and producing two polystyrene verification models.

"That would be part of what we would show them because that is an unusual way of building a show car," Mr Beranger said.

"But we would really hope our head office would gain a better understanding of what the Australian capability is and a better understanding of what the Australian customer is all about, particularly from a youth point of view.

"Ultimately, it should give them more and more confidence in our ability to be self-sufficient." Toyota Australia already had some recognition for its styling ability in Japan.

It was given the job of facelifting the Aussie version of Avalon and TSA has produced a local facelift for the 380N Camry that is launched later this year.

The lead designer on Sportivo coupe, Nick Hogios, is currently in Japan working on the next all-new Camry due on sale in early 2006.

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