Robert Cumberford returns to the last Detroit motor show to analyse more specifically three concept cars taken to North America by the Toyota Group, the Acura Advanced sports car, the Toyota DT-HS and the Lexus LF-A. Here are one or two of his more significant reflexions.

I want to believe that the Acura, Lexus and Toyota sports car shapes are only steps on the way to a wonderful new aesthetic, even if I am really not so sure. All of them have a few superbly modelled areas, but they have incredibly awkward and clumsy parts as well. Take the Acura Advanced sports car. It has the fewest surface errors – almost none, in fact – but I could not help thinking about how difficult – unpleasant, even – it would be to drive on a daily basis, with that excessively long nose invisible from the driver’s seat.

Toyota’s hybrid FT-HS is admirable technically, but with its sublimated snowplough front end and short nose, it has more the aspect of a front-wheel-drive coupé than what it is, a true super sports performer. It is interesting but does it make you want to get behind the wheel and go somewhere? The Lexus LF-A does at least have the right proportions for a sports car. It looks the part of a very fast GT, although the upper inlet for the rear radiators, just behind the doors, is tortured and inelegant.

The greatest masters, and here I think of Battista “Pinin” Farina and Giuseppe “Nuccio” Bertone, always demanded that beauty be a part of everything they did. We need a return to that ethic today.

The article continues in Auto & Design no. 163