When Toyota, a company known for incredibly reliable if somewhat bland cars, comes out with a stylish new concept, it's a big deal. It's an even bigger one when company execs hint that the car, if built, would be the successor to the much-missed Supra.
But the FT-HS (Future Toyota Hybrid Sport) is more than just a Supra replacement; it's Toyota's view of "a suitable sports car for the 21st century." The Hybrid Synergy Drive powertrain includes a 3.5-liter front-mounted V-6 and mid-rear mounted battery pack for a grand total of 400 bhp, transferred to the road via a properly sporting rear-wheel-drive setup.
Prior to the world premiere of the FT-HS at the Detroit show, R&T was granted a behind-the-scenes look at the car at Toyotas Calty Design Research Studio in Newport Beach, Calif.
At Calty we had the chance to speak with the designers directly responsible for this new sports car, see the men using CAD/CAM software and watch Master Modelers shape the full-scale clay. It was enlightening to have Alex Shen, Project Chief Designer of the exterior, show us examples on the FT-HS of what Toyota calls "freeform geometry," "subtractive mass" and a "perfect imbalance." For instance, "subtractive mass" is shown by the deep sculpting of the car's tail section, the purpose being to get rid of all excess weight. Shen also pointed out that the air scoops on the back edge of the front fenders (similar to those of the Nissan GT-R) aren't just for looks -- they actually whisk away heat caused by the gaggle of LED headlights.
Bill Chergosky, Project Chief Designer of the interior, explained bits and pieces of the radical FT-HS cockpit. He said even though the car is a 2+2, the driver is the main focus, giving him what Chergosky calls "solo space," basically his own pod. He also talked about "touch tracer interface," which eliminates the use of all knobs for the interior controls. When asked about the production value of the car's hub-less steering, Chergosky said it's just a matter of time.
So will the FT-HS be built? Shen's gut feeling is that, yes, the higher-ups at Toyota are strongly in favor of the car becoming a reality.
For a closer look at the FT-HS and Calty, and to hear the designers talk about their creation, check out the accompanying video.