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by Tim Beissmann

The Toyota FT-1 concept previews the Japanese brand’s new emotion-charged design direction and hints at a potential successor to its iconic Supra sports car.

Unveiled at the 2014 Detroit auto show, Toyota says the FT-1 concept answers global president Akio Toyoda’s call for more emotive designs displaying energy, passion and a sense of excitement.

The Toyota FT-1 concept’s designers, based at the brand’s Calty Design Research studio in California, describe the concept as the “ultimate expression of a Toyota coupe design”, and promise visual cues from the show car will make the transition to future Toyota production vehicles.

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Calty president Kevin Hunter says the FT-1 (for ‘Future Toyota’, and ‘1’ representing ‘the ultimate’) is symbolic of an exciting new chapter for the car maker and its global design.

“Sports cars represent the ultimate driving expression in its purest form,” Hunter said.

“As car enthusiasts ourselves, this is the kind of project we dream about working on.

“This provocative concept truly captures the passion, excitement, and energy of the Toyota we are evolving into and embodies elements of the emotion and performance that Toyota will imprint upon future production designs.”

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Toyota says the front-engined, rear-wheel-drive FT-1 concept builds on the brand’s circa-50-year sports car heritage, taking inspiration from the 2000GT, Celica, Supra, MR2 and 86 before it.

FT-1 concept chief designer Alex Shen – who started on the project nearly two years ago – says the “aggressive, track-focused sports car” exudes the brand’s new ‘function-sculpting’ design language, boasting muscular proportions and taut lines and surfaces.

Its track-ready nature is emphasised by its aero-inspired intakes, vents and ducts, and further reinforced by its active rear wing that deploys and tilts forward to create additional downforce.

Toyota claims the FT-1 concept’s classic sports car proportions with its cockpit positioned rearward within the wheelbase improves weight distribution, while its wraparound windscreen and side glass openings are a nod to the design of the 2000GT.

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The designers describe the cabin as a “highly functional place of business”, with the driver positioned behind an F1-inspired steering wheel and a colour head-up display.

Its minimalist interior design aims to promote a driver-centric environment and integrates lightweight components.

Toyota has not provided any technical specifications of the FT-1 concept, suggesting only the vision of a “high-technology, high-performance drivetrain”.

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