A new 1.2-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine in the Toyota family will likely power a new range of small models, including an upcoming baby SUV and a small sports car.
Those models, of course, have been prefaced by the Toyota C-HR concept SUV – which will make its production debut at the 2016 Geneva motor show – and the S-FR sports coupe that debuted in concept guise at the recent Tokyo motor show.
Of course, that vehicle is front-wheel drive, and the small-capacity engine is available with a six-speed manual gearbox or an automatic continuously variable transmission (CVT).
How will that fit with the small SUV and sports car? Well, it’s not confirmed whether the production C-HR model will be front- or all-wheel drive, but any production version of the S-FR will be rear-drive.
According to Toyota engineers we spoke with at the test facility where we drove the turbo model, there is work being undertaken to ensure that the small-output engine can be adapted to suit all sorts of configurations.
“From the design or development perspective, we do have that in mind as well,” one engineer told us of the plans for a rear-drive 1.2 turbo model, before stating that “at the time being” it will remain a front-drive-only proposition.
“By combination it is possible to use this engine, but currently we do not have any plan,” was the response to our question about all-wheel drive.
Having driven the turbocharged Corolla variant briefly in Japan recently, it was not what you’d call an overly sporty experience. But that could change, too, according to the same engineer.
“Yes by adding the displacement we can increase the power, technically that’s possible. There are various ways to realise that,” he said, indicating that the engine could be worked to a larger capacity.
However, don’t expect the 1.2-litre turbo to become a hybrid in search of extra power and torque.
“It is not possible to do it for this engine,” the engineer said when asked about the potential to add batteries for more power.
“It will be a totally separate development,” he said, indicating a new drivetrain could also be under development. However, the engineer suggested that an electric turbocharger is “one of the areas we could look into at the development perspective.”
Toyota engine development chief Tetsuya Yamada claimed the engine had rapid combustion and was better than the 1.8-litre currently fitted to the Corolla here.
“It has top class performance that is far better than the conventional 1.8,” Yamada said.
We asked Toyota Australia public relations manager Mike Breen whether there was any indication of the 1.2-litre engine replacing the 1.8-litre in Australia, but he advised us that no such plans were currently on the table.