- Toyota FT-1 sports-car concept foreshadows product of joint venture with BMW
- Styling is all Toyota, with engineering and packaging input from Germany
- Production car will likely have a hybrid powertrain
When the Toyota FT-1 made an appearance recently at the famous Cars and Coffee weekend meet-up in Irvine, Calif., the puzzle pieces started to fall into place. Two summers ago, Toyota and BMW announced a partnership that included the "joint development of architecture and components for a future sports vehicle," and we can now say with reasonable confidence that the FT-1 is Toyota's half of the deal. The styling is 100 percent Toyota, courtesy of the company's Calty design studio in California, but underneath the FT-1 will share many bits with its BMW cousin -- perhaps the next Z4. Under the hood, we understand that Toyota may take the lead with advanced gas/electric hybrid technology that leverages a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine.
Let's pause for reflection. A lot of Toyota fans have been concerned that the FT-1 wouldn't live up to the legend of the 1990s Supra, just as the Mazda RX-8 (Mazda's follow-up to the twin-turbo RX-7) was regarded as an inferior sequel. But now we're talking about a pure sports car infused with BMW chassis wizardry and Toyota hybrid powertrain know-how. Suddenly, the FT-1 sounds like pure awesome. If it employs the hybrid system's electric motor as torque fill until the turbo kicks in, a la the McLaren P1, it might even give owners a taste of supercar status for what's expected to be a fairly attainable price (Corvette money, we're thinking).
Of course, much of this is still speculation, but with Toyota and BMW putting their collective heads together to make a sports car, it's hard to imagine the result being anything short of amazing.
What it means to you: Stay tuned for further information as the Toyota FT-1 gets closer to production. We can't wait to get behind the wheel and see if we're suitably impressed.