We may have waxed lyrical about the Toyota 86’s handling balance and on-the-limit finesse but as far as we are all concerned (you and I included), Toyota’s most exciting product in years is not quite the perfect little sportscar for one little reason: it’s just not fast enough. 200 hp is nothing to shout about these days, not when a mere Volkswagen Golf offers as much as 55 hp more.
The people over at Toyota are well aware of this issue however, and a more powerful, hardcore version of the 86 is well on its way to production reality later on within its life cycle. With boost-tastic Subaru as their technical partner, you’d think that a turbocharger would be the obvious and best solution for getting more power. But you’d be wrong.
Speaking to Autocar UK, Toyota 86 chief engineer Tetsuya Tada said, “I’ve been asked a lot about turbocharging, and we are investigating both that and supercharging too. But an electric motor assistance solution is also possible, and would bring benefits that forced induction does not.”
The thought behind this concept is simple: a hybrid powertrain would provide significant torque assistance in the lower rev range – where the current high-revving flat-four is at its weakest – without compromising the car’s throttle response or fuel economy like a forced induction solution would. It’s all about preserving and, if possible, enhancing the 86’s key virtues.
There are other benefits to this exercise too. The battery packs, as heavy as they are, could be systematically placed to lower the car’s centre of gravity further to the floor, aiding handling.
So how about that? A faster, more economical and even better handling 86. There’s a hybrid Toyota for all of us, it seems.