Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Paris Je t'aime? Part 5 Le Rendez Vous Toyota

Words & snaps by Ben

So the walk down the Champs Elysées was finally coming to an end. In all honesty, I was feeling rather disappointed with what the car industry was doing. 

Citroën was stuck in the past, Mercedes in a fairy tale, and Peugeot playing with kitchen ware. So far, only Renault had something going with the Dezir concept car, but other than that, they seemed to only know how to make one car.

And here I saw, standing in front of the last concept dealership of the Champs Elysées, the only Japanese manufacturer of the lot: Toyota.

I was definitely feeling positive about it; after all, since the new 86, they seem to be looking at a fun FR future, to all motorheads' delight.

So I stepped in and was greeted by... This.

My mood dropped like the gears of a sequential gearbox. This is the i-Road, some 3-wheeled scooter for congested cities. 

All right, so manufacturers like to think of commuters first, there had to be something better waiting for me around the corner. Something that rhymed with a 4 cylinder turbocharged RWD maybe?

I looked to my right and saw... This.

The ME.WE. A weird, erm, car, powered by 4 electric motors built in each wheel, with body panels made from recycled polypropylene and the fascia of a panda.

This car was designed in partnership with French architect Jean-Marie Massaud and can apparently be transformed into a pick up by changing the rear panels. The front windscreen is retractable, because it's always nice to let the rain in straight in your face, and the floor and roof are made of bamboo.

Oh, and if you don't like the Styrofoam lookalike body panels, you can change them with a collection of colourful panels with weird designs.

And then my eye caught something. At the back of the showroom, I saw an attractive shape!

This is the FT-HS. This prototype is actually not that new, as it was first unveiled at the 2007 Detroit Auto Show, but it' always good to see a sports car prototype.

This concept, which was first hinted as the new Supra, relies on a hybrid platform similar to the Lexus GS450h which aims at producing 400hp at the rear wheels. 

I liked the details, such as the carbon fibre wheels, but sadly, this prototype was now 6 years old and Toyota has never hinted any intentions to bring this car in production.

Next to it was a pretty cool Yaris desk. Toyota, any chance to get other model-inspired desks? Not that I don't like the Yaris, but I have greater affinity with the 86.

Upstairs, Toyota seemed keen to show more of their weird creations, such as this... Buggy(?)

It really looked like a toy, and the brand itself seemed to agree as they parked it in a big ball bath.

Loving the way the canopy opens, loving the toy-inspired design, loving the controls that remind me of those toy steering wheels you get when you're 2 years old, but I don't get what the point of this concept is.

Finally, the last piece of the showroom was in front of me. At first sight, it looked like something taken from movies such as I, Robot. At second sight, it really did look like something taken from movies such as I, Robot.

It was a sort of personal carrier, the kind of thing that aims to make us all turn fat by giving up walking and rolling away. It's actually kind of cool, isn't it?

And that concluded my walk down the Champs Elysées, which left me feeling a bit sad about how the French (and German and Japanese, to a certain extent) are gearing up to tackle the future of automotive.

Then again, when I see the stuff they recently unveiled at the Tokyo Auto Salon, I know there is still hope!

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