Toyota is preparing to launch a new family face for its global range, according to Didier Leroy, boss of the world number one carmaker's European operations.
(Above image: the Toyota Sportivo Coupe concept, designed by Toyota Australia and revealed in 2004)
Echoing comments made by CEO Akio Toyoda when he took the reigns a little over a year ago, Leroy told Inside Line this week that Toyota is developing a new styling language that will deliver more 'emotional appeal', beginning with a company-wide facelift to existing models.
While still in early development, Didier confirmed that a uniform corporate face is in the works (something Volkswagen and Mazda has applied across its range of models).
Leroy said that a major part of the project will include ensuring loyal Toyota owners are not left feeling alienated, most being happy with the company's current aesthetic.
Toyota's European offices are expected to play a bigger role in future styling and equipment decisions, thanks in part to the idea that what sells well in Europe will do similarly well elsewhere.
Last year, CEO Akio Toyoda said that along with improving quality, Toyota would explore the emotional connection between owners and their cars.
"Rather than asking, 'How many cars will we sell?' or, 'How much money will we make by selling these cars?' we need to ask ourselves, 'What kind of cars will make people happy?' as well as, 'What pricing will attract them in each region?' Then we must make those cars," Mr Toyoda said.
In the months before Mr Toyoda's rise to the top spot, Toyota's global design boss Wahei Hirai said that the styling of the 2010 Prius is a preview of things to come.
"Prius is a showcase. We can try many design cues here first," Hirai said at the time. "This has to be symbolic."
While the flowing bonnet, roofline and high rear deck are uniquely Prius features and not likely to transfer to the likes of the Camry or Corolla (lest they dilute the Prius’ image), there are other, more specific elements that will make the leap.
Features such as Hirai’s ‘Aerocorner’ styling - combining angular corners, flush surfaces and flat edges to lower air-resistance and smooth airflow over the car - are expected to feature prominently in next-gen Toyota models.
Other features we should expect to see more of are smaller 'top-grilles' sitting above larger lower grilles, allowing for better airflow and reduced turbulance.
Hirai said that the Toyota badge will form a stronger, more integrated feature of future Toyota designs with the vehicle’s lines flowing outward from the badge, as if it were the heart of the car. Of course, in a sense, it is – at least metaphorically.