The concept car that Yamaha had teased two weeks ago has been officially unveiled at the 44th Tokyo Motor Show. Built on Gordon Murray's innovative iStream Carbon platform, the Sports Ride Concept attempts to convey the feeling of riding a motorcycle to a lightweight two-seater sport car.
Yamaha's car is, as expected, a design concept that seems to move away from the usual focus on technical specs. The information supporting the presentation is extremely limited. We know that the car's dimensions are very similar to those of a Mazda MX-5 Miata, but it is its weight figure that inevitably takes center stage.
Tipping the scales at just 750 kg (1,653.5 lb), it should prove to be an extremely fast and agile vehicle, despite the fact that Yamaha has made no mention of the engine to power this project.
Another important feature of this project is the direct involvement of a certain professor Gordon Murray, the man behind many Formula One (F1) designs and, of course, the McLaren F1 supercar. His contribution can be found at the carbon monocoque around which the concept is built. This has been fabricated through the iStream Carbon patented process, a carbon fiber chassis technology where two carbon skins sandwich a honeycomb core. This method is designed to reduce production times and costs to a fraction of what is today's norm.
This is not the first time that Yamaha has flirted with iStream, as the same method was employed for the Motiv concept that was introduced at the Tokyo Motor Show in 2013.
The concept itself is a compact sport car design with flowing surfaces and a cabin for two passengers. The front part of the car appears to borrow some styling cues from Toyota's FT-1 concept that was presented in Detroit last year, as in the rear the focus falls on the two motorcycle-type exhausts.
Some more information we can deduce from studying the images from Tokyo, reveals an automatic transmission and a set of 18-inch wheels. We would also guess a rear mounted engine, as we start to ponder whether Yamaha would opt for a YZF-R1 inline four or rather go for the torquier MT-09 (FZ-09) triple.
Although Yamaha makes no mention about production, we cannot help but recall rumors in early 2015 insisting that the Motiv concept is scheduled to hit production lines by 2019. Yamaha has been indirectly linked to production cars in the past, as it has designed several engines for its partner Toyota, most notably the 2000GT.
Given that the iStream platform serves as a prime tool to facilitate low cost production in large quantities, it would seem logical to think that this Sports Ride Concept may be a little more than just an essay in design.
After all, Honda did come up with a concept car that appears to be ready to go into production, with an existing engine and a customer base that has already proven its willingness to pay top dollar for such luxuries – as displayed by the RC213V-S MotoGP replica that sold out in a matter of weeks.
What if Yamaha came up with a four-wheeled counter offer at a considerably lower price and more real world capabilities?