Low, red and streamlined with a truly sporty set-up and attitude, the FT-86, presented by Toyota at the last Tokyo Show, is Japanese through and through. And yet it was designed in Europe by the designers at ED2, the advanced research centre whose offices are in southern France and which celebrates its tenth birthday in February. “Our role is to supply design proposals for the production line, particularly as regards the European market, and to carry out experimental activities, as in the case of this concept car”, explains Ryoji Okazaki, Chairman of Toyota Europe Design Development (ED2).

The result is not, however, completely “experimental”. Even though it’s a showcar, the FT-86 is in fact very similar to an upcoming production model that will be produced in cooperation with Subaru, suppliers of the new floorpan and the 2.0 boxer engine fitted at the front and combined with the rear drive. “All project decisions were taken in Japan about two years before the launch, in October 2007, when we were assigned the task of finalising the whole design on the basis of these mechanicals”, says Okazaki. “The boxer engine played an important part in the architecture of the vehicle. The low centre of gravity that derives from it was a fundamental theme, together with the pursuit of aerodynamic efficiency and, of course, formal beauty”.

The FT-86 is not just a preview of a new Toyota coupé. It is a bridge between the brand’s sporting Dna and the range’s new aesthetic, particularly the front, an aspect that designer commitment has been focusing on for some time now in the attempt to assert and consolidate brand image.

The article continues in Auto & Design no. 180

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