Originally published October 28, 2015 on autoTRADER.ca
Rather than go into specifications and details during their product presentation at the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show, Toyota hauled out pitcher Ichiro Suzuki to say a few words. The well-composed Suzuki joked with the crowd about being not a great driver, and then spoke of the need to change things up, to take risks.
With the cars Toyota showed off this year, you’d find little risk overall. The Prius arrives with slight tweaks for efficiency and better driver involvement, but it’s hardly a dangerous play. The hydrogen fuel-cell Mirai is a little riskier, but part of Toyota’s stated hydrogen-heavy future plans.
The three really interesting cars are, as usual, the concepts. First of these is the Toyota FCV-Plus, a Jetson-looking machine that’s far more futuristic than the Mirai’s relatively conventional four-door layout. Fitted with a surrounding all-glass cockpit, the FCV-Plus has excellent visibility, and possesses the ability to plug into the grid to process hydrogen for powering a house or similar.
Similarly unconventional, but powered by a internal combustion engine, the slightly-steampunk Kikai is a wonderful half-hotrod machine with plenty of exposed moving parts. Nothing is hidden in this car, which features a glass floor showing the exhaust, and exposed suspension and transmission workings. The idea is that the entirety of the mechanical nature of the car is on display for the driver.
Last, and perhaps most ready for production, is the S-FR concept. This guppy faced, dayglo micro-sportscar is dominated by a huge grille and bright paintwork. The tiny 1.5L engine makes just 130hp, but the S-FR is extremely light. Think of it as a coupe version of the Miata.
Even if the S-FR does make it to production in Japanese markets, don’t expect to see one any time soon. We’ve already got the FR-S, and that’s about as small as Toyota expects to go.