Toyota FT-Se concept gets European premiere

Toyota's all in on a 'multi-pathway approach to carbon neutrality'; let's hope everything looks this good

By Matt Bird / Monday, 4 December 2023 / Loading comments

Yes, yes, it’s the Toyota FT-Se concept again. But we’ll make no apologies for featuring it on PH once more; not only does it still look absolutely brilliant, Toyota has finally decided to take some proper pictures of it that didn’t happen at the original debut. In which it looks even better. Plus, following this European reveal, we now have a better idea of what kind of future a Toyota like this fits into. 

At its Kenshiki – ‘insight’ in Japanese – conference in Brussels, Toyota confirmed a commitment to European carbon neutrality in Europe by 2040 (globally by 2050) as well as a ‘Mobility for All’, which means an array of low and no carbon solutions going forward. So that will continue to mean hydrogen (including for cars in use at the Paris 2024 Olympics) as well as EVs; Toyota aims to adapt its offerings to the local infrastructure ‘so that no one is left behind on the journey to carbon neutrality’. It does feel like they’re in the minority still forging ahead with hydrogen, but the one thing that’s certain right now is that nobody really seems to know what the future will actually look like. So maybe keeping options open is a good idea. 

Anyway, the FT-Se. Its European unveil was alongside global equivalents for a host of other EV concepts, including an Urban SUV and Sport Crossover. They’re about as interesting as they sound, but knowing more about the little sports car only increases the excitement. It’s small, first off, which is seldom guaranteed for an EV and bodes very well for actually using a car on the road. The concept measures 4,380mm long (a GR86 is 4,265mm), just 1,220mm tall and 1,895mm; that latter measurement is pretty broad (a Supra is 1,854mm wide), however the FT-Se surely wouldn’t look as good much narrower. And it’s low, thank goodness – we’ve all seen enough high-riding cars on 23-inch wheels for one year. 

The additional benefit of being relatively small is keeping the car light, especially when bolstered by smaller, more efficient batteries. Toyota reckons this means motor, transmission and even air-con can be downsized to take advantage, which will ‘allow new possibilities to enhance traditional sports car qualities such as stable cornering, responsive handling and confident braking.’ We’ve also now been afforded a better look at the Future Toyota Sports electric’s interior, complete with motorsport-inspired seats, wheel and layout. Toyota says that the FT-Se’s natural environment is the race track, and that’s abundantly clear from the interior. Let’s hope it can deliver when the time comes for an electric GR to become a reality. Given what Gazoo Racing has achieved so far, you’d put nothing past them. 

That’s a few years off still, though. More immediately – told you Brussels was a big deal – Toyota has confirmed the hybridisation of the Hilux. Normally a pretty big deal, sidelined somewhat by Toyota’s most arresting concept in a decade as well as previews of the electric future people will actually buy. There’s not a plug for the Hilux just yet, instead the 2.8-litre diesel is now supported by a 48V mild hybrid system. The lithium battery weighs just 7.6kg and can supply the engine with 16hp and 48lb ft, recharging through braking. 

The 48V battery supplies the Hilux’s existing 12V system for accessories, and the motor generator has been designed to withstand everything usually thrown at a Hilux. Toyota says a new two-arm belt tensioner and stronger belt material under the bonnet  ‘contribute to the improved drivability and a quieter ride, whilst retaining Hilux’s famous durability.’  

And as if all that wasn’t quite enough, Toyota also confirmed in Belgium that the latest Land Cruiser will be available to order from tomorrow, December 5th. A First Edition will be exclusively available online, alongside an Executive and Prestige for Western Europe. Not exactly a key model when it comes to that push for carbon neutrality, though it’s almost impossible to imagine Toyota without a Land Cruiser. The retro look will surely prove extremely popular, too, if similar efforts are anything to go by. Expect the Land Cruiser EV to be along soon enough. Or perhaps a hydrogen powered one…

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