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Toyota readies a Smart rival (2009)

Published: 30 April 2007

A Toyota Smart? Tell me more...

Remember the Toyota Endo (pictured)? It was one of many concept cars vying for attention at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2005, but the Japanese firm is now readying a production version to show this autumn, CAR Online has learned. It's a sub-Aygo city car to square up to DaimlerChrysler's Smart Fortwo; DC boss Dieter Zetsche recently told CAR Online that Smart had been close to extinction, but the product planners were convinced that the market for tiny city cars would grow in an environmentally pressured age, so the brand was saved. Toyota now wants a slice of this market and a production Endo is due in showrooms in 2008.

So they're putting the Toyota Endo into production?

Something like it, yes. Although the concept pictured has lashing of the usual show-car frippery (internet on the go, cartoon styling and Star Trek lights), its basic architecture will influence the production version, we hear. So expect something similar at the unveil at September's Frankfurt show. The European-designed Endo concept was short (3000mm) and tall (1520mm), to cram in sufficient space for four passengers. Word is, the production model could offer 3+1 seating, with three spaces for adults and a fourth occasional jump seat - similar to the original Fiat Trepiuno concept, in fact.

Tell me about the clever thinking on the Endo then

Modularity, modularity, modularity. It informs every aspect of the Endo, from the moment you step in through the cleverly hinged doors. The doors and rear tailgate open in two stages, allowing bodies and bags to be squeezed in even in confined city spaces, thanks to innovative dual-action hinges. The front passenger seat slides sideways, as well as fore-aft, to make it easier to clamber in the back, while the rear seats slide and fold, so you can juggle the space provided for luggage or limbs. We expect much of the concept's far-flung cabin to be toned down for production, but Toyota insiders talk of surprising accommodation for one so small. No word yet on the mechanical spec, but we expect engines to be shared with the Yaris, starting with a basic 1.0-litre petrol. It'll have a premium price though - expect it to cost from £8500.

By Tim Pollard

Editorial director of CAR's digital publishing arm. Motoring news magnet

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