If you’re wondering what Toyota has planned to follow up their very warmly received 86 coupe, you’re far from alone. And the Japanese automaker might have sensed this growing anticipation enough to give a bit of glimpse here with this GR HV Sports concept.
It’s a car that, from the front, doesn’t really inspire and given its all-round black treatment, looks like something that rolled off the test track with only a few bits of its intentionally odd-looking disguise removed. Still, it’s meant to resemble Toyota’s TS050 Hybrid Le Mans racer, so maybe we’ll forgive it. The car is also a targa, which is something we’ve not seen Toyota attempt since the MR2 days.
Given its proportions, there’s no way this car is anything but something to be sold alongside the current 86 or preview of a more varied line of second-generation 86es with different body styles. The name, while conforming to their new GR performance brand (Gazoo Racing) does sadly mean a possible canning of the popular name of the current car.
Another possibility is that this will slot between the 86 and the Supra. After all, the GR HV does measure up slightly wider and longer than the former and diverges enough from its pure, essentials-only approach.
There’s a lot still unknown about this car, and predictably we’ll have to wait until the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show draws much closer before any juicy details are actually revealed. Given that Toyota are in the final stages of developing the new Supra with new partners BMW, it’s not impossible that the Germans had zero input on the GR HV - though, that’s assuming this car has already been green lit.
Powering the GR HV is hybrid powertrain that, yes, is entirely mysterious at this point, but should help improve upon the low-end provided by the 86’s atmospheric flat-four. Naturally, it’s batteries are located toward the centre of the vehicle and is presumably used more for ‘torque fill’ than any real ‘hypermiling’ or longer pure-EV journeys.
Also speculators are the mechanisms by which the roof is removed. As we’re not seeing any clear indications that the GR HV features a self-retracting mechanism, we’re left to assume that the decision to go with or without the top comes down one made prior to getting in the car. There should be some clever way to stow the hopefully lightweight piece for easy fitment should the weather turn nasty, though.
Inside is surprisingly where the most interesting bit about the car is revealed. It has a unique gear shifter that, while being an automatic with button controls on the centre stack, features a traditional 6-speed H-pattern. It certainly is a neat idea and one we hope Toyota puts into production, though we’re not sure if regular shift paddles will also be included.
Still, since there’s no clutch pedal, it might be quite a strange experience to row through the gears in the same motion without moving our left foot, especially for those who drive manuals. Perhaps it isn’t. We do like the fighter jet-inspired red flip-up engine start button, though, and always will.
The rest of the cabin otherwise looks much identical to that of the 86, right down to the slightly awkward implementation of the infotainment screen - here it displays battery charge level among other metrics. It’s a strange disconnect with an instrument cluster that looks to now be fully digital and genuinely well integrated.