Toyota drivetrain engineering senior manager Koei Saga has told Autocar that development of the hybrid Toyota 86 – called the GT86 in the UK – is quite advanced, and will combine several of the Japanese manufacturer's hybrid systems used on the road and track.
“We are quite prepared because we do have a hybrid system that we can use for that kind of vehicle [a hybrid sports car]…I think it won’t be very far in the future that the green light will come." Saga said.
A hybrid system could be used to increase the 86’s performance. Despite the sports car’s naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine producing 147kW and 205Nm, the 1220kg-model is widely regarded as being capable of handling more power. Toyota’s recently revealed 313kW Yaris Hybrid R concept is one example of how the car maker’s hybrid technology can significantly boost a car’s performance.
Saga said that Toyota’s existing hybrid technology is sufficiently flexible to be applied to a sports car – Lexus uses a hybrid powertrain for its rear-wheel drive GS450h and LS600h and the Yaris Hybrid R is an all-wheel-drive concept.
The report indicates a hybrid 86 would still seek to preserve the car’s standard manual gearbox in the name of driver appeal, however, one expected problem associated with a hybrid drivetrain would be an increase in vehicle weight.
“With a good layout design, we think it might be a bit heavier, it can [still] be a fun car to drive,” says Saga.
Placing the batteries low in the car, and stripping even more weight from the base car could help compensate for the hybrid system’s added heft.
Unfortunately, until given the production green light, a hybrid 86 remains in the 'maybe' pile at Toyota alongside the on-again off-again Toyota 86 convertible.