Toyota’s (little) Discovery

Previewed at the New York motor show this week, Toyota’s FT-4X Concept.

Image: blogtoyota

Maybe it’s the colour. Perhaps it’s the rugged ‘go-anywhere’ appearance. Or it could be the many useful features and imaginative solutions littered throughout the vehicle – (some more fanciful than practical) – but not only do I find the FT-4X charming, but also it strikes me that this or something along similar lines is really what JLR should be offering instead of that insipid looking new Discovery they’re marketing to customers now.

Hailing from the Japanese manufacturer’s Design Research studio in California, FT-4X is a speculative idea for a fun urban faux by four – a kind of Matra Rancho for millennials. No, I don’t really know what that means either, but let’s not dwell on it. In fact I’d rather not dwell on the concept all that much to be honest, but if you’re interested, you’ll find as much information as you’re likely to require here. After that, you’re on your own, boyo.

Of course, JLR may have ideas along similar lines for their reborn Defender – said to be entering production in about two years time. However, Gerry  McGovern and his cohorts could do worse than to give this a good once over. I suspect they are doing so as we speak.

Author: Eóin Doyle

Co-Founder. Editor. Content Provider.

11 thoughts on “Toyota’s (little) Discovery”

  1. That orange is always a winner. The front is totally post-modern: the lamp fascia is decorative, spreading left and right; I am not convinced by the orange “leg” draped over the wheel-arch. Still it is a fun confection.

  2. I’m put in mind of the 2002 Honda Element, not so much in the FT-4X’s appearance but its intent and market aspiration. The versatile interior looks Element-inspired too, but I think Honda did it better.

    Still, it’s good to see Toyota devising SUVs which are non-mainstream. The FT-4X is a good counterpoint to the CH-R. The RAV-4 was as challenging in its original SWB incarnation, but has evolved into something wholly unremarkable. Probably that’s what the people want, as the RAV-4 and Honda CRV jockey for for position as the world’s best selling SUVs, and have done so for years.

    1. I had forgotten the Element, if indeed I was ever more than peripherally aware of it. It was probably a little ahead of the curve – but then they said that about the Rancho too…

      You mention the C-HR. They were appearing in ever-increasing numbers in Ireland during my recent sojourn there. I couldn’t decide whether they were channelling weaponry or insect life in its appearance, but they are certainly striking. However, they must be awful for rear passengers. I saw a child trapped in the echoless chasm of the rear compartment of one the other day. If it wasn’t for the fact that said youngster was glued to a handheld electronic device, I would have felt compelled to alert the emergency services.

      The rear visibility of FT-4x would be pretty woejus as well I admit, but it comes across as a friendlier device overall – and I’m all for that. Do customers want challenge? I would say they will accept it in the right package. Otherwise, how is the Juke selling like it is? I suspect however, for this to translate into a marketable proposition, the aggression quotient would have to be upped a few degrees and the quirk factor significantly reduced.

    2. Interesting too is it not that the Japanese seem capable of ‘doing’ FUN in a far more unforced manner than the European and Americans. Is it a function of culture I wonder?

  3. I feel this would threaten to knock the Subaru Crosstrek from its spot as the top model in the parking lot at Yosemite lodge. The gimmicks of the interior (water bottle door handles, North Face® center armrest/sleeping bag, etc) and any production version’s almost certain lack of actual off-road prowess makes me want to scoff at the FT-4x, but then I look at the exterior and I just can’t. This could end up being the correct execution of what Honda was trying to do with the Element.

  4. Will I get crucified for entrusting my fellow DTWs with the revelation that I’m latently harbouring a penchant for the Jeep Renegade? To me, it’s an almost Pike car-like miniaturised homage to the Jeep’s bigger brothers – and a friendly, slightly cheeky one at that. It’s about the only recent FCA product I have any sympathy for, anyway.

    This reminds me of the Renegade, albeit in smarter, less intentionally wacky a fashion. Waku Fashion, anyone?

    1. I was behind one this past Sunday on a winding mountain road and couldn’t help thinking that it’s not at all an unpleasant design. And when considered against disasters like the first iteration of the Compass is downright impressive. But with the staggering quality issues that FCA has I can’t see it edging out any real market share.

    2. The Renegade is something of a hit in my locale, probably helped by good pre-reg deals on low spec examples, to keep the lines at Melfi busy. The stretched Punto platform doesn’t inspire confidence, and the European offerings have a motley collection of rather old Fiat engines. With a 2.4 Tigershark engine, and a proper automatic it could become interesting, but I can’t abide these ridiculously huge A-pillars.

      Jeep showed an interesting notion of a Renegade pick-up last year at Moab, which I presume is their washpot:

  5. Unfortunately, Robert, (no reply button could I see) the combination of the wheezeball Tigershark 2.4, along with the much maligned ZF 9 speed automatic (a reputation it earned all by itself, it’s dreadful in both FCA and Acura), and a curb weight approaching infinity 3600 lbs avoirdupois in the awd/4WD versions makes the Renegade more of a fashion statement than a really decent vehicle if something approaching mechanical harmony appeals. You can get the Abarth engine and manual in FWD only if some semblance of sprightliness is on your mind. Still, since most people care not for the gubbins, all they know is that this thang just doesn’t drive right. Probably better off wiith the European engines.

    Canadians, with lower per capita disposable income, tend to buy smaller vehicles than the US except for all-conquering pickup trucks, but last year, with a 10 to 1 population ratio, the US shifted 106,000 Renegades. Only 3962 struggled out of Canadian dealerships, and the main problem is high price. You can buy a CR-V or RAV-4 for the same money and they’re the next size up and have decent reliability reputations.

  6. Bill – it’s distressing that FCA can’t even get fitting a big engine and specifying a suitable autobox right.

    Idly searching the sidelines of TTAC earlier today, I found more madness in the North American captive import small SUV sector:

    In Europe the Opel / Vauxhall Mokka is a Korean-built, tall supermini on the Gamma II platform – the Corsa still makes do with the old Fiat/GM SCCS. It excels at nothing, but sells well as it’s not as ugly as the Nissan Puke, or even remotely as crap as the Ford EcoSport. In fact, to meet demand, Opel set up a second production base at Zaragoza to supplement the lines at Bupyeong. In the UK, prices start at £17K (US$21,000) including 20% VAT.

    Badge it up as a Buick Encore, and it’s a $36,000 SUV. As TTAC puts it:

    “Others will argue it’s difficult to make a case for luxury without horsepower. There’s an optional powertrain upgrade available for the Encore now, a different 1.4T with 153 horsepower, 177 lb-ft of torque (gains of 15 horsepower and 29 lb-ft), stop-start tech, and superior fuel economy.

    But that more prodigious engine would have driven this Encore’s price up by $895 to $36,720. Now you’re into $36,745 BMW X1 xDrive28i territory and beginning to feel distinctly more underpowered, unattractive, undersized, and unencumbered by good sense.”

    I know nothing of the subtle prejudices and subliminal dynamics which drive the US market, but it seems to me that GM are trying to rook $10,000 out of the snobbish or gullible, for a car which should really be a $20-25K Chevrolet. I don’t think the Canadians will fall for such nonsense, they seem like canny folk.

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