The Toyota Prius is the world’s best-selling hybrid by a wide margin, but that doesn’t make it an exciting car. Now the Toyota Yaris Hybrid-R, which combines Le Mans racing technology with a compact economy car, that’s a hybrid worth some hype. The 420 horsepower hot hatchback has broken cover; but does Toyota dare build it?
More like than not, the Yaris Hybrid-R is merely a demonstration of Toyota’s quite capable racing engineers. First, Toyota installed a 300 horsepower turbocharged 1.6 liter GRE racing engine into the 3-door Yaris, which would be pretty bonkers by itself. Then Toyota went a step further by adding the hybrid drivetrain from the Toyota TS030 Le Mans race car, which consists three electric motors and a super capacitor,, for a combined output of 420 horsepower.
While the GRE engine powers the front wheels, a pair of 60 horsepower electric motors power the back wheels. The third electric motor is attached to the transmission, acting as a generator for the super capacitor and as a traction control system. The hybrid system can deliver an extra 40 horsepower boost for up to 10 seconds, or an extra 120 horsepower for five seconds on top of the GRE engine’s 300 horsepower.
Rolling on big 18-inch wheels wrapped in Michelin Pilot Sport Cup tires and sporting an aggressive bodykit the shows off Toyota’s new Keen Look and Under Design philosophy, the Yaris Hybrid-R is not to be taken lightly. It shows that perhaps Toyota is ready to shake off the stodgy, boring reputation that it has built for itself, and is willing to take a step in a daring direction. There are other hints
Do I expect them to sell a hybrid hot hatchback with 400+ horsepower? No, not a chance. But perhaps a lesser version with say, 200 horsepower, would injection some much-needed fun into the low end of Toyota’s lineup. A “BOOST” button can do wonders for sales and transaction prices, and it would give this writer a reason to walk into the Toyota showroom.
Just don’t ask me to hold my breath waiting for it to happen.