Toyota Investigating Radical Lotus Seven-Style Sports Car?

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photo credit: Hermis (flickr.com)

photo credit: Hermis (flickr.com)

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Toyota raked in $18.1 billion in profit last year on the back of a reliable albeit somewhat dull lineup. We could now see some of those funds invested in building excitement in the brand. The automaker, run by performance-loving president Akio Toyoda, is keen to turn around the rather staid image and is investing heavily in exciting endevors such as the World Endurance Championship (which Toyota won last year) and the World Rally Championship.

There are also new performance models in the pipeline such as the Supra successor, previewed by last year’s FT-1 concept car, as well as another rear-wheel-drive sports car slotting in below the Scion FR-S (a Toyota GT 86 in other markets). Now we’re hearing that Toyota is even investigating a radical Lotus Seven-style sports car.

Motoring, citing an anonymous source, is reporting that Toyota is planning a minimalist open-wheel sports car concept for the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show in October. The car is said to be a three-seater, presumably with a seating arrangement similar to that found in the McLaren F1 where the driver sits in the center and is flanked on either side by a single seat. The car is also said to feature a narrow nose design like Nissan's axed BladeGlider project.

The drivetrain, meanwhile, is expected to be a hybrid combining a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine with an electric motor and CVT. Peak output would only be about 100 horsepower but the car’s curb weight may end up as low as 1,650 pounds.

According to the source, Toyoda and his team at Toyota are keen to stimulate younger buyers who don’t aspire to owning a car. And if the concept proves popular there’s a good chance a production version will follow.

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