Toyota’s newly unveiled concept for the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show is the Fine-Comfort Ride. I love names like this because the concept is basically what’s said on the tin: a fine and comfortable ride for the future.
Toyota calls the concept is “a new form of the premium saloon” which seems like a very floofy way to avoid saying futuristic minivan. It’s got sliding doors, is roughly the same size as aand seats six passengers on three rows. It’s a minivan or, at least, a compact MPV. But hey, minivans are sort of cool again, so we’re interested.
The Fine-Comfort Ride is powered by in-wheel electric motors that draw power from a hydrogen fuel cell stack, so its operation should be whisper quiet. Estimated range is 621 miles (1000 km) and, because you fill it up with liquid hydrogen fuel rather than charge at a station, you can refuel and be back on the road in about 3 minutes.
The concept’s wheels are pushed way out to the very corners of the Fine-Comfort Ride’s footprint to maximize interior space, high speed stability and generally look pretty rad. Tucked between the rollers is a diamond-shaped cabin that’s wider in the middle and narrower at the ends, particularly at the rear end. That further boosts aerodynamics and efficiency at speed, while the wider midsection frees up more cabin space for first and second row passengers. The addition of a flat under-body cover reduces wind noise at speed, helping to quiet the cabin.
Inside, you’ll find four swiveling seats that can be reoriented — sometimes facing forward and sometimes facing each other as a “communication space” for the passengers — and adjusted for various postures and levels of recline. Touch displays and a virtual Agent are integrated all around the cabin area.
I only count four of these adjustable captain’s chairs, but Toyota states that the Fine-Comfort Ride seats six. It looks like the last two passengers ride on a narrow bench at the rear of the cabin. Perhaps the ride isn’t as fine and comfortable for everyone onboard, but maybe it’s just a really cozy bench.
Toyota makes no explicit mention that the Fine-Comfort Ride is an autonomous car, but generally concepts with seats that swivel backwards are. Plus, what could be more comfortable on a long trip than chilling out while a robotic chauffeur handles the long boring segments?
We’ll learn more about the concept next week at the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show.