Celebrating the Appeal of the Machine
Toyota believes that -as the products of human knowledge, creativity, dedication and craftsmanship- machines should also be objects of admiration.
Making its European debut at the 2016 Geneva motor show, TOYOTA KIKAI has been designed to explore, reinforce and, above all, celebrate the fundamental appeal of machines: their intricacy, mechanical complexity and, of course, beauty in motion.As a true concept car, TOYOTA KIKAI’s appeal is in a design which is simultaneously reliant on, and yet free from, the core concepts of the modern automobile.
TOYOTA KIKAI takes the machinery normally hidden beneath a vehicle’s bodywork, and reveals it. Throughout, the componentry on display has been painstakingly detailed to celebrate the intricacy and mechanical elegance of its construction, whether simple or complex in nature.To that end, the bodywork of the mid-engined concept has been kept to a bare minimum, simply enclosing the structural core of a central, three-seater cabin. Housed within exposed aluminium sub-frame members, all other components are uncovered; the vehicle’s inner workings becoming part of the exterior.
At the front, the KIKAI’s radiator, steering system, brakes and elegantly cast aluminium front suspension members are all on display. To the rear, the suspension members, brakes, fuel tank, chromed exhaust system and the notably compact packaging of Toyota’s full hybrid powertrain technology are all open to view.
The KIKAI’s hybrid system combines an electric motor with a 1.5 litre, 4-cylinder Atkinson-cycle engine. The latter includes an electric water pump, a low-friction distribution chain, an intake manifold made of a composite material and a compact exhaust manifold.
As with all Toyota hybrids, the KIKAI stands out for its silent running, comfort and easy handling, particularly in urban areas where the hybrid system allows the car to run solely in electric mode or with a limited - and therefore silent - use of the combustion engine. The automatic transmission ensures a smooth drive without any jerkiness, giving a comfortable and reassuring driving experience, both for the driver and his two passengers.
Accessed via sliding doors, the three-seat cabin layout features a central driver’s seat, placing the driver at the heart of the car. The triangular seating layout creates a congenial, on-board communication space, whilst the use of unique, analogue-feel instrumentation continues the concept’s theme of celebrating the simple beauty of mechanical technology.
Expansive cabin glazing not only offers outstanding all round visibility, but also offers occupants a novel and engaging visual dialogue with the machinery in operation. For instance, the movement of the front suspension upper control arms is visible through the windscreen, and small windows by the driver’s feet offer a unique view of tyre and suspension movement, and the road surface speeding by beneath...
So, whilst most vehicles conceal their inner workings beneath smooth sheet metal, TOYOTA KIKAI actively encourages to appreciate the beauty of automotive mechanical engineering. More broadly, it hints at the visual, aural and tactile appeal of the warmth brought by the analogue and the physical in an increasingly digital age.