Toyota Again Sets the Pace
Toyota gives us a look at its next sports car, as well as unveils the world's first compact MPV gas-electric hybrid.
Toyota FT-86 II
On the Toyota stand here at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show, there's something for everyone — and that's not something you can always say about this most sensible of Japanese automakers. But the latest version of the FT-86 Coupe has to be the standout.
Now dubbed the FT-86 II, this concept evolution offers further clues to how next year's rear-drive boxer-engine coupe will look. Subaru is also showing its version here at Geneva, but consensus is that the Toyota looks better. Regardless, it will be a serious dogfight between these two models come next year.
As in Detroit, hybrids also feature heavily here in the Swiss capital. There's the new Prius+ hybrid people-carrier, a world-first, but alongside it is the Yaris HSD concept. Described as an innovative supermini gas-electric hybrid, interest in this car is high. Toyota says there are a lot of hybrid-specific details within it, which contrasts slightly with Honda's approach on the Jazz Hybrid. What will the results be in terms of economy? We'll find out soon enough.
Another intriguing concept is the Toyota EV — an electric version of the iQ. It seats four and has a 65-mile range, thanks to smart batteries and clever packaging. Toyota says it's an ideal urban electric vehicle, complementing longer-distance plug-in hybrids.
Toyota FT-86 II Concept
What is it? A preview of a new rear-wheel drive sports coupe that's part of an unusual joint venture between Subaru and Toyota.
What makes it hot? The second-generation prototype gives a pretty good idea of what the future production model will look like. The raised fenders and long hood are a tribute to great Toyota sports cars of the past. Likewise, the rear-wheel drive platform developed in collaboration with Subaru marks a return to Toyota's sporting roots. In order to improve balance, agility and high-speed stability, engineers decided to set both the powertrain and driving cockpit as low and as far back as possible. Under the bonnet is the current Subaru 2.0-liter flat four, as used in the Impreza. But by the time the coupé goes into production it may use the next-generation boxer unit. The current engine produces 146 horsepower and 141 lb-ft of torque. The new engine could go up to 160-horses, with lower CO2 emissions. A turbo would increase performance but would also increase the price. The Subaru engine has several advantages. It's compact, light, smooth and nicely balanced. But more critical for Toyota is the structure of the unit, which allows engineers to keep the car's center of gravity low. The gearbox will be a conventional six-speed manual.
What concerns us? Toyota won't confirm that the final production car will look exactly like the FT-86 II concept here in Geneva, and things may change in the next couple of years. But the car is already at the running prototype stage, and if development goes according to plan, this thing could be killer.
When and how much? Though nothing is set in stone, Toyota wants to keep the price of this rear-wheel drive monster to around $22,800. The production model will be ready in late 2012.
Our verdict? We'll hold final judgment till we see an actual production model. But, in the meantime, we are hoping it looks like this, and is similarly equipped.
2011 Toyota Prius+
What is it? The Toyota Prius+ is the world's first compact gas-electric-hybrid people-mover.
What makes it hot? Once again, Toyota is setting the pace in the hybrid sector, growing its range while some rivals haven't even launched their first hybrid yet. The 7-seat Prius+ is its first move into the hybrid people-mover arena, and is a sister car to the Prius v concept already seen in the U.S. Its longer wheelbase results in ample room for passengers, despite the complexities of fitting them around the batteries. The cabin is also laden with some seriously high-tech infotainment features, which are expected to make it to production. The Prius+ uses the same drivetrain as the standard Prius, which has us wondering if this could be the world's first people-mover with carbon-dioxide emissions of less than 100g/km.
What concerns us? Like most Toyotas, it's a little on the bland side. Certainly, if you want a head-turner, you'll look to the FT-86 II sitting not far away, rather than the Prius+.
How much and when? Pricing isn't yet available, but it will hit the streets in 2011
Our verdict? It should be no surprise that a company of Toyota's size has such a huge variety of concepts here at Geneva. Our favorite, of course, is the FT-86 II. But the smartest has to be the Prius+. Will it soon become the "green" compact people-mover of choice?
- Become a fan of MSN Autos on Facebook.
- Visit MSN Autos' "Exhaust Notes" blog to keep up on all things automotive.
- In the market for a new car? MSN Autos is pleased to provide you with information and services designed to save you time, money and hassle. Click to research prices and specifications on any new car on the market or get a free price quote through MSN Autos' New-Car Buying Service.
Must-See on MSN
As they did at the Detroit auto show in January, hybrids also feature heavily here in the Swiss capital.The capital of Switzerland is Bern, not Geneva.
Seriously, to me, the Toyota FT-86 II Concepet looks like the Nissan Z-series rip-off.