Toyota is the second biggest car group in the world in terms of sales and its range of brand names adorns the grilles of the most spartan pick-ups as well as of range-topping saloons and nippy city cars on all five continents. Wahei Hirai, head of Toyota design since 2004, explains to Auto & Design the trends and ideas that underlie an increasingly sophisticated “Japanese-ness” in the company’s products. The interview is followed by a description of the four concept cars presented by the Toyota group at the Tokyo Show.

After its Pm and i-Unit projects, Toyota presents the i-Swing, a sort of suit of armour in which to move around the urban jungle in total freedom. Based on the gyroscope mechanism, the i-Swing can run on either two or three wheels.

With a balanced mix of research elements and concrete solutions applicable to standard production, the FSC was the most realistic of the concept cars presented by Toyota. Half way between a saloon and an MPV, the model brings with it all the features of the brand’s styling language today.

A small city car with boxy side and rear styling, but a more distinctive treatment at the front, the Fine-X is a concentrate of “dreams for the future”. Fuel cell propulsion, the four steered wheels on independent axles and convenient on-board access are the main features of the city car.

Hybrid petrol and electric propulsion and the balanced line of a seasoned flagship. With these premises, the Lexus LF-Sh, the Group’s future luxury range topper, resumes its bid to give sleepless nights to European sector leaders. Wahei Hirai has insisted on referring to the model as a concept car but he is just going through the motions because the car is at least 90 per cent definitive.

The article continues in Auto & Design no. 156

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