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Yamaha has made a bike-inspired carbon sports car

Yamaha reveals a carbon MX-5 rival in Tokyo, and it's got McLaren F1 DNA

It may have slipped under most people’s radars at the Tokyo motor show, but a brand new sports car has launched. And it shares its DNA with the McLaren F1.

That car is the Yamaha Sports Ride Concept. It doesn’t have a three-seater layout or a BMW-sourced V12 slung out back, sadly, but it has been partly designed by the McLaren F1’s father, Gordon Murray.

The two-seater concept has been created using a new version of Murray’s patented iStream production process (designed to make lightweight cars at a lower cost than traditional methods, with annual production runs of 1,000 to 350,000) called iStream Carbon. Murray originally demonstrated iStream with the glassfibre T25 city car prototype, and takes credit for Sports Ride’s structure and dimensions. But Yahama’s stylistic work has yielded something far more attention-grabbing here.

At 3,900mm long, 1,720mm wide and 1,170mm high, it’s a smidge shorter, narrower and lower than a Mazda MX-5, but at just 750kg it’s a full 250kg lighter. Yamaha claims the driving experience is close to riding a motorcycle. Albeit with a roof, four wheels and doors.

For the engine we are limited to speculation and hunches, but Murray used a modified 660cc Smart engine in his early iStream T25 city car prototype. Something similar, turbocharged to around 100bhp, would provide a lively power to weight ratio of 133bhp per tonne – marginally better than the new entry-level MX-5 1.5.

The real revolution here is the carbonfibre chassis, something which Murray claims is drastically cheaper than anything currently available with comparable weight and rigidity. By using F1-derived technology of sandwiching a honeycomb core between a pair of carbonfibre skins, rather than the solid carbon panels you get in high-end supercars, it brings the tech within reach of mainstream manufacturers. The carbon itself is low-cost, too.

There may be a weight-saving ethos, but the interior isn’t barren, either. Its mix of saddle leather, carbon and machined aluminium brings to mind a diddy Pagani Huayra.

So, will Yamaha be able to make the numbers stack up and put this thing into production? The good news is that this may be a concept, but Yamaha is continuing to work on it after Tokyo.

Would you like to see it make production?

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