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Another radical Toyota SUV: Meet the new FT-4X concept

2017-04-12 14:49

TOYOTA FJ CONCEPT: It’s Toyota’s new FT. The low-range enabled FJ returns. Kind of. Image:Toyota

Lance Branquiho

Cape Town - It’s Toyota’s new FT. The low-range enabled FJ returns. Kind of. 

In the automotive world of 2017, if you don’t have SUVs or crossovers in your product pipeline, bankruptcy will be your destiny.
 
Toyota is in the fortunate position that despite its conservative business strategy, the brand does boast a notable history of producing SUVs. All rivals considered, Rav4 was the original all-purpose urban SUV, effectively incubating the flood of raised-ride height FWD cars available today.

READ: Toyota shows off its new crossover C-HR in SA - Prices, details

The automaker's new C-HR was launched in South Africa earlier in March 2017. The C-HR is the automaker's first model in SA to use its new 1.2 litre turbo engine.

Toyota says the engine "uses advanced technologies that allow the engine to change from the Otto-cycle to the Atkinson cycle under low loads". 

In anticipation of what Toyota’s SUV future could hold, images of the company’s latest adventure concept have leaked, cryptically previewing its debut at this weekend’s New York Auto Show. 

It’s called the FT-4X, and despite the naming convention, we’d caution Land-Cruiser fans to manage their expectations. This is not the loveable retro FJ-Cruiser reborn. 



An FJ for social media

Built on a similar platform to the crossover C-HR, FT-4X is a concept vehicle illustrating just how important an Instagram adventure lifestyle and its corresponding hashtags have become to all automakers.

Exterior styling is a strange blend of retro detailing and compact SUV proportions, with a minimalist cabin which appears to be a scandalous imitation of Citroën’s Cactus. FT-4X’s interior features have been carefully selected to appeal singularly to the millennial generation, who live – however vicariously – through their Smartphones. 

The conventional instrumentation binnacle is replaced with a horizontally orientated Smartphone screen, whilst outdoor adventure wear brand, North Face, was selected as a design partner to give FT-4X some lifestyle branding cachet. Indeed, in 2017, you need a down-jacket company to make your SUV appealing, clever traction control just won’t do anymore.

North Face’s primary contribution is a storable sleeping bag, which cleverly doubles as an armrest, whilst FT-4X’s door handles are dual-purpose in their secondary role as water bottles. Why? Because trail running. It’s all about rugged adventure wear and being wet, muddy and cold with FT-4X.

Think we’re being facetious?

The cabin, in an attempt at Land Rover Defenderism, doesn’t have any carpeting, hence you can hose it clean. And to encourage that, they’ve even partitioned the cabin into three compartments: front (clear), middle (wet) and rear (for cargo). 

After you’ve spent the day in the outdoors getting bitten by insects, suffering sunburn or extreme cold, FT-4X facilitates the celebration of all this fun with its removable radio, which is perfect for tailgate parties. Other vanity media technology? Well, there are GoPro cameras integrate in the side mirrors. 

Clever ‘gate and proper 4X4

If you are seeking true design genius within the FT-4X’s offering, look no further than its multi-configuration tailgate. Capable of operating like a conventional one-piece, vertically opening fifth-door, or as a two-piece, split side-hinged tailgate, it’s fantastic.

Why?

Because when you require shade in the Kalahari or Kruger Park, a vertically opening tailgate makes for a great impromptu awning, whilst a split tailgate, opening to the sides, gives you the option of privacy from fellow game viewers, or beach braaiers, whilst you sit in the rear of your FT-4X. 

All things considered, FT-4X is a C-HR with particularly OTT styling and dual tow-hook recovery points below both front and rear bumpers. Technical details? Toyota hasn’t confirmed exact engine or drivetrain specification yet, but it’s ambiguously said FT-4X will be powered by a small capacity four-cylinder, alluding to an evolution of the company’s 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol engine.

Most surprising is Toyota mentioning that FT-4X would accommodate all-wheel drive with a low-range transfer case, which is amazing, as this TNGA platform is the same a Camry. Guess those 225/55 Goodyear tyres, with their pronouncedly off-road biased tread blocks, aren’t just rolling on FT-4X’s 18-inch alloy rim, just for the show. 


Despite the near-FJ moniker, this latest Toyota crossover concept is nothing approaching the FJ-Cruiser 2.0 we hoped it would be. 

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