Confirmed: Toyota FT-1 is next Supra

words - Peter Lyon
Radical coupe concept to morph into a born-again Supra; Toyota also developing sub-86 hybrid sports car

One of the hottest concepts unveiled at last month’s Detroit motor show was Toyota’s FT-1. No one will argue that point. What is controversial is how much meaning this radically styled coupe has in the real world.

While Toyota heads were saying the car was merely a concept conceived to celebrate the Calty design studio’s 40th anniversary as well as pay tribute to Polyphony Digital’s ‘Vision Gran Turismo’ project, major publications were purporting the FT-1 to be the next-generation Supra.

Now we have the definitive verdict: It is. But there is another sports car in the mix as well. After a mandate from Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda calling for “cars that touch the heart”, a source close to Toyota has confirmed the company is busy developing not only the FT-1 as the next Supra, but a smaller sports car too.

“Priced at around $16,000 (in the US), this entry-level sports coupe will slot into the line-up under the successful 86,” says our insider.

Developed within a new sports car division headed up by none other than 86 chief engineer Tetsuya Tada, our source says these two next-generation coupes will form the base for a whole range of sports cars set to start joining the line-up from 2016.

Word from Toyoda went something like this. “If the FT-1 makes a good strong impression on the market, then we will add it to the line-up.”

We think Toyota knew this car was going to be a smash hit, because from what we are hearing it’s already well into the development phase. But don’t expect the finished product to land in showrooms looking like this. Our source says those sharp lines, scoops and edges will definitely be “softened” for the market.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen an aggressively styled coupe boasting some of Toyota’s best hybrid hardware. The FT-HS concept coupe received rave reviews when it was unveiled in Detroit in 2007.

But the global financial crisis soon put this project on the back-burner, as car-makers were forced to tighten their belts. Now in 2014, Toyota is back with even raunchier styling and two powertrains.

The entry-level variant is expected to incorporate a turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol-four from the upcoming Lexus NX, while the flagship will employ a 2.5-litre turbo V6 hybrid powertrain generating more than 300kW.

Obviously the new Supra will be rear-wheel drive but it is also strongly rumoured to employ an LFA-style rear transaxle, meaning the new Supra could sell for less than $100,000 when it appears in showrooms as early as 2016.

Meanwhile, the smaller sports coupe said to slot in under the 86 should be powered by a 1.5-litre hybrid set-up and is set for a 2017 debut.


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Published : Friday, 7 February 2014
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