TOYOTA Compact Cruiser EV concept has won the top gong at this year’s instalment of the Car Design Award. The electric model beat comers including the Audi Skysphere, Polestar O2, Porsche Mission R and Volvo Concept Recharge to win the coveted award, proving that when it comes to design, Toyota has indeed got its mojo back.
The retro-looking concept, which draws inspiration from the 80-series LandCruiser and FJ Cruiser, was previewed last year alongside 15 other concept EVs as part of Toyota and Lexus’ future line-up – the brands plan to launch 30 new EVs by the end of the decade.
Held annually in Milan, Italy, the Car Design Award was established in 1984 by Fulvio Cinti, founder and edition-in-chief of Auto&Design. The program recognises projects that have “made a significant contribution to the development of car design” with the winner selected by a panel of design experts and representatives from the automotive press to guarantee “an unbiased judgement of the world car-design scene”.
The Car Design Award has three categories: Concept Cars, Production Cars and Design Language, the latter awarded to a design team that has stood out for the consistency and transversality of its brand’s formal design language across an entire product range.
Toyota took top place in the Concept Cars category ahead of the Polestar O2 and Astheimer Design Aura.
The best design in the Production Cars category was awarded to the Ferrari 296 GTB, ahead of the teams responsible for the DS design of the 4 and Lotus for the Eletre (in joint second place). Third place was awarded to Volkswagen for the ID.Buzz.
In the Brand Design Language section, first, second and third place were awarded to Polestar, Ferrari and Kia respectively.
“The Car Design Award has always been an unmissable event for the automotive design community, and we are glad to return to meet in presence after two digital editions due to the pandemic disruption”, said Car Design Award president, Silva Baruffaldi.
“This (Compact Cruiser EV) project revives in the electric era one of the most iconic Toyota off-roaders, promising a future production compact SUV with a strong appeal. All the design details are meant to express all-terrain credentials in a contemporary shape. A rugged and modern utilitarian product that is also desirable – a hard feat to achieve”.
The Toyota Compact Cruiser EV was designed by a team at the Toyota Europe Design and Development Centre in Nice, France. It is tipped to feature a dual-motor, all-wheel- drive configuration when it enters production and will hopefully retain many of the stylistic cues present on the concept model.
At the front, the Compact Cruiser EV features an upright grille with T-O-Y-O-T-A lettering flanked by horizontally set LED headlights. It offers a chunky front bumper and a large silver-coloured skid plate, robust and squared-off wheel arches, as well as a flat bonnet with large, central air intake.
The concept model’s profile is dominated by heavy body cladding and a prominent kink in the shoulder line, with the contrasting roof supported by a body-coloured C-pillar and blackened A-pillar to offer a ‘floating’ effect. The side-mounted ladder, heavy-duty roof rack and all-terrain tyres hint at the off-road ambitions of the Compact Cruiser EV.
From behind, the model scores squircle-shaped LED taillights, Toyota lettering across the tailgate and a second silver-coloured skid plate.
Output, driveline and specification details will be announced closer to the production variant’s launch, likely sometime in the next 12-18 months.