The wildest and most exciting car at the show was undoubtedly the Toyota FT-1 concept — which stands for ‘Future Toyota – Number 1’. Designed at the CALTY studio in California, the FT-1 certainly lives up to Akio Toyoda’s new ethos “No more boring cars”. Its Formula One style nose, splitter, rear diffuser and ‘rain light’ scream “speed”. The huge 21 – inch wheels, sleek sculptured body, exposed engine under a clear panel in the hood and giant deployable rear spoiler yell “more speed”. Then when you open the door and see the minimalist interior with heads up display and Formula One style steering wheel, you just want to jump in and drive!
In contrast, the Toyota FCV fuel cell concept car was downright ugly. Its gaping ‘mouth’ and huge ‘gills’ at the front create a face only a mother could love. The strong bodyside feature line originating at the rocker just behind the front wheel, climbing up over the top of the rear wheel and terminating in the taillamp does little to minimize the high belt and awkward proportions. No CALTY Design here………. The FCV concept was gone by the time the show opened to the public. It was replaced on the very large turntable by a very small, tilting, three-wheel, mini vehicle. Maybe the ugly concept car wasn’t so bad after all?
New from Lexus was the RC 350, another 2-door coupe to join the fray. It is attractive from the rear and rear three quarter views, but the front end is way over the top for our taste. The Lexus “bobbin” grill has grown to maximum proportions with three different insert textures, plenty of brightwork and two small round (fog ?) lamps integrated into the bright trim below the bumper area. It is all just too much. To make matters worse there is a feature line that starts alongside the headlamp and wanders up over the wheel flare to the base of the A-Pillar. It does not help.
The performance version of this coupe, the RC F, helps things a little with a less complex grill — but it remains huge and unattractive. Some scoops and other performance ‘add-ons’ also help, but I think we will “pass” on this one.
As a possible entry in the luxury compact SUV club, Lexus displayed the LF NX concept. Unfortunately this one does not work for us either. The huge Lexus grill is, well, huge. The body has extreme sculpturing, it sits too high on wheels and the rear end has over-sized elaborate tailamps, plus a diffuser fit for Le Mans. It was all too much and I would rather not talk about it any more!
The best thing on the Lexus exhibit was an LFA on a simulated rolling road with the associated sound track of the car going through the gears. Music to the ears!