Toyota’s electric GR sports car will be shown next week

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New FT-Se concept to provide first look at future of firm’s enthusiast-focused sporting models.

Toyota will unveil its first electric Gazoo Racing sports car, the FT-Se concept, at next week’s Tokyo motor show.

Described by the firm as a “high-performance sports [battery-electric vehicle]”, it appears to be a development of the unnamed Toyota MR2-lookalike concept that was revealed in late 2021.

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It shares its underpinnings with the FT-3e SUV concept that will also be unveiled at the Tokyo show.

Each car is expected to draw power from Toyota’s new ‘Performance’ lithium ion battery pack – set to arrive in production cars in 2026 – which is claimed to increase range to around 800km and cut costs by up to 40%.

Toyota previously confirmed that this battery would enable the development of electric sports cars like the FT-Se, owing to a targeted pack height of 100mm. This is 50mm shorter than the battery in the existing bZ4X SUV, enabling a significantly lower seating position.

The FT-Se prioritises “handling stability and aerodynamic performance”, said Toyota. The new model is also set to introduce a new software platform that allows its dynamic character to evolve with software updates.

Inside, it is designed to be be driver focused, with two smartphone-style display screens flanking a narrow yoke steering wheel.

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The digital instrument display is set much further away from the driver than in existing sports cars, such as the Toyota GR Supra, and is reminiscent of Peugeot’s i-Cockpit interior design.

There are also newly designed knee pads, which are said to “protect the body from g-forces”, likely helping to prevent the driver from sliding in the seat during hard cornering.

It is possible that the FT-Se may also feature a manual gearbox. Toyota chairman Akio Toyoda confirmed to Autocar in June that the company was testing its first GR electric sports car, stating: “There is also a manual transmission and also a clutch. If you put someone in the car and asked them to drive it and guess the powertrain, they probably wouldn’t be able to tell you.”

The firm last year revealed early details of a manual transmission project for upmarket brand Lexus, in a bid to add extra engagement to its future EVs. This set-up would not connect directly to the motor, but instead simulate gearchanges by adjusting the torque settings of the electric motor.

Chief engineer Takashi Watanabe suggested that this system could also be programmed to allow the car to roll back on a hill, or emulate a stall, so that bad driving is punished.

Lexus previously confirmed that this system is earmarked for use in the all-electric LFA successor, whose design was previewed by the Electrified Sport Concept in 2022.

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