Yamaha builds a car... and it's nuts

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Forget the MX-5, this is a true lightweight sports car

FROM SEEMINGLY nowhere enters this cool Yamaha Sports Ride Concept, a Toyota 86-rivalling compact coupe with carbon construction underneath it and a big name behind it.

The 3.9-metre-long twin-seater weighs 750kg, which makes an MX-5 look overweight and an 86 appear obese. Despite the allure of highmounted exhaust pipes and a stubby bonnet, drivetrain details are absent.

Yamaha says the Concept is “designed to express a driver-machine relationship close in feeling to the world of motorcycle riding”.

The company adds: “This design concept takes a uniquely Yamaha approach by putting the involved and active feeling of riding a motorcycle … into a vehicle with quintessential sportscar proportions that adults can enjoy in daily use.”

It is designed by Gordon Murray, the man of ex-F1 fame (both in Formula One and then as main man behind the McLaren F1 and Mercedes-McLaren SLR supercars).

Murray runs an independent design studio that developed iStream chassis production; a manufacturing process aimed at making lightweight cars faster and more affordable. Until now a steel frame has been cloaked in glassfibre. For this concept, the design centre replaced that with carbonfibre.

This is Murray’s first sportscar for the brand, following a hook-up with Yamaha two years ago with the Motive City Car Concept.

The Sports Ride Concept brings him full circle; the McLaren F1 of 1992 introduced carbonfibre construction to the production car world, the 2003 SLR also pioneered low-volume carbon manufacturing, and this Yamaha is the first time he’s used carbonfibre since.

The process, two years in the making and now dubbed iStream Carbon, utilises “two carbon skins sandwiching a honeycomb core, unlike many expensive handmade supercars which employ monolithic (single skin carbon panels).

“The low cost investment and piece part cost of iStream Carbon components will enable it to be used in sub premium market segments,” the design centre adds.

Murray claims iStream can cater for production volumes of between 1000 and 350,000 units per year, has a cycle time of 100 seconds per unit, requires

an 80 per cent reduction in capital investment by brands and 60 per cent decrease in manufacturing energy.

We may not know what powers the Sports Ride Concept, but it clearly is fuelled by Murray’s belief that cars need to get lighter.

“Lighter weighting is the final frontier in the automotive industry’s fight to lower emissions,” Murray says. “A change in vehicle weight to enable downsizing of powertrain and components is all we have left.”

Despite weighing around threequarters of an MX-5, Murray also claims the Sports Ride Concept “sets new standards for light weighting, rigidity and safety”.

Yamaha is clearly interested in getting into the four-wheeled game, but there’s no production announcement yet. We’d love a 750kg sports coupe right now, thanks.

“Lighter weighting is the final frontier in the auto industry’s fight to lower emissions”