Toyota's FT-CH concept was styled at the Japanese company's European design center in Nice, France. Like many things of French origin, it confuses the hell out of us. If this is a Toyota hybrid, why isn't it...dull?
I took a long trip in a Camry Hybrid once. It was a trip peppered with interstate boredom and the strange feeling that I was supposed to be somewhere else, somewhere other than behind the wheel of a Camry. It was a comfortable, quiet, and relaxing trip, but I also climbed out of the car wishing that I had never left the house. Toyota hybrids tend to have that effect on me — I understand the job that they are designed to do, but that job is not for me. Until today, I simply assumed that this was how the world works.
Maybe this is about to change.
The FT-CH is the first piece of Toyota's "Prius family" marketing strategy, an approach that the Japanese firm claims its customers and dealers have been asking for. It is twenty-two inches shorter than a Prius and less than one inch narrower, and it's intended to port Toyota's hybrid philosophy into a fun small car. Production plans have not been announced, but given that Toyota plans to introduce a raft of new hybrids over the next few years, it's probably safe to say that the FT-CH's reception will be closely watched.
OK, so it's not perfect. The FT-CH's nose, which looks like a postapocalyptic anime bug with eye-wateringly huge tear ducts, needs more than a little work. But as a package, it's a nice, thoroughly non-Venza piece of work.