Toyota FT-HS Concept: the lowdown
Salvation for supercar lovers in the 21st century: Toyota has turned its hand to creating a sports coupe with green credentials - and the futuristic FT-HS Concept mixes green with mean rather well, we think. Don't believe us? Well, how about 0-60mph in four seconds and 400bhp from a 3.5-litre V6 hybrid drivetrain - in a car that runs silently on electric power through town, with nothing more troubling than an electric whirr from the quad tailpipes.
It looks quite odd. What have they done with the styling?
This concept heralds two new design themes: J-Factor and Vibrant Clarity. Apparently, these are a celebration of Japanese design, and the car does have some unusually sharp surface treatments; the nose is dominated by a butch snow-plough spoiler, while the rear is deeply scalloped. From the front, the 'floating' C-pillar wraps over the rear haunches, while the roof bulges to provide more headroom where needed. There's even a folding hard top, turning the FT-HS into a cabrio at the touch of a button. The 3.5-litre V6 hybrid petrol-electric drivetrain might sound familiar from the Lexus RX400h and GS450h, but this time it's been tuned for 400bhp. No economy claims have been published ahead of its debut at next week's Detroit Motor Show, but Toyota claims 'ultra-low emissions and fuel efficiency'.
What's the FT-HS like inside?
This concept car has a 2+2 layout, with small rear seats for occasional use. The cabin has a lean, skeletal look and the engineers have tried to leave much of the car's architecture exposed. Has any concept car of recent years not lavished its drivers with a periodic table's worth of exotic materials? The FT-HS is trimmed with carbonfibre and cool-touch titanium, while the steering has an unusual mono-spoke wheel.
So will they build it?
There is one big stumbling block to building a hybrid supercar: weight. All those batteries and hybrid power packs weigh a lot. The petrol-electric GS is a podgy 245kg more than its petrol counterpart, for instance. Finding a way to make a hybrid coupe handle like a sports car ain't easy. However, if anyone has the engineering nous - not to mention deep pockets required - to make this happen, it's Toyota. Nobody will make an on-the-record promise, but word is that the company is working flat out to be first with a hybrid sports car. It's the best pointer yet to the new Supra for the 21st century.