Performance hybrids are all the rage with the well-heeled, but the common man must still rely on forced induction to get his horsepower kick. Toyota could change all that though, confirming a rumor that’s been around for awhile now. A Toyota GT86 hybrid is indeed “in development” according to one executive, though that doesn’t mean it’s heading for production.
While the Toyota GT86/Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ is a lightweight and joyful ride if the reviews are to be believed, the 200 horsepower Boxer engine definitely leaves room for improvement. 0 to 60 mph takes 7.4 seconds, which if you can believe it is more than a second slower than Toyota’s own (V6) Camry sedan. Sure, the GT86 is said to handle like a dream, but it’s a lot easier to sell horsepower numbers than handling prowess. Even though a turbocharged or supercharged GT86 certainly makes sense, Toyota has recently shown a more daring side of itself with the 420 horsepower Yaris Hybrid-R concept.
The Yaris Hybrid-R has no shot at production, but a Toyota GT86 hybrid with a similar electric “boost” system could temporarily lift performance without hurting fuel economy. Koei Saga, chief drivetrain engineer for Toyota, told AutoCar that development of a hybrid GT86 is “quite advanced”, though he did not delve into details. Even a modest 50 horsepower increase could make a big difference in the performance of the GT86, and Toyota certainly has the technology for that.
Saga further muddied the waters by noting that Toyota has two hybrid systems to pull from; the hybrid Syngery drive used on the Prius, and the energy-recovering KERS system on the Le Mans-racing TS030. Trying to make a Prius out of the GT86 doesn’t make much sense though, and the Hybrid-R name would fit well as a higher-performance option of Toyota’s only sports car. I think it’s probably a safe bet which hybrid system the GT86 will get,espcially since there have been rumors of a hybrid Supra in the works as well. The two projects could be sharing technology and engineering talent while being developed side-by-side; one an affordable and fun sports car, the other an expensive and powerful supercar. This could be the start of a new Toyota sub-brand that’s supposedly under consideration.
All Saga is waiting for is the green light from top-tier executives. If anyone can pull off an affordable hybrid sports car for the common man, it’s the automaker with the most hybrid experience.