The chief designer behind the Toyota FT-4X concept says the off-roader for city-slickers isn’t far off being ready for production.
Ian Cartabiano (pictured below) told media after the FT-4X was officially unveiled at the New York motor show: “We always design to be at the 75 per cent stage. We can make this thing.”
Cartabiano is head of design at Toyota’s Calty studio in California, where the FT-4X was penned. He also designed the C-HR, which went on sale in New Zealand last week.
“If we can make C-HR, we can make this thing,” he said. “We have a good record with concept cars. If the reaction is good, you never know what’s going to happen.
“Calty doesn’t make these fluffy concept cars that have no purpose to go anywhere.” But Cartabiano did caution that Toyota would “wait and see what the reaction is.”
The design of the split tailgate is the talking point at the show. It’s also Cartabiano’s favourite feature. It can be lifted upwards or, with the twist of a handle, opened barn-door style. But could it make it into production?
“The hatch could be doable, but obviously we’d have to engineer a few issues out”, he said. “We got it to work mechanically on this (concept). At Toyota, if we want to make something, we can. We just need that push.”
The FT-4X shares its platform with the C-HR. Cartabiano said he always imagined the C-HR is the “city mouse” and the FT-4X as the “country mouse.”
“They’re very similar, but this car has more interior volume, and more usable space. Its mission is different,” he said.
“The key to simple design is that it has look good dirty. I think this car is going to look kick-ass dirty. I don’t think C-HR should ever get dirty. It’s a philosophical difference.”
Cartabiano cautioned on talk that the FT-4X would replace the discontinued FT Cruiser. “This is not a rock crawling car,” he said.
“We already have a wide stable of totally hardcore off-road vehicles, we don’t need everything in our lineup to be hardcore.
“This can get you there, but are you going to be rock climbing in it? No. But can you access the trailhead to get you to base camp? Yeah.”