Hybrid Toyota GT86 in development

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Hybrid Toyota GT86 in development

Toyota is getting ready to launch a petrol-electric hybrid version of its much-lauded GT86 sports car, a senior engineer has confirmed to Autocar magazine.

Speaking at the Frankfurt motor show, Koei Saga said: "The development work is quite advanced now, so if the green light is given, we are ready to do it."

Toyota has been a pioneer in the development of hybrid drivetrains, with its Prius hatchback a leading model in the market.

It also has a hybrid system designed for racing, which the company has campaigned in Japan's Super GT series.

Despite the fact the Prius is front-wheel-drive, the technology is easily adaptable to the rear-wheel-drive GT86. Lexus uses the exact same Hybrid Synergy Drive kit in its rear-wheel drive models the GS and LS saloons.

"I think it won't be very far in the future that the green light will come," commented Saga.

Aside from being rear-wheel-drive, the GT86's driver appeal lies in the fact that it is one of a slowly dwindling number of sports cars offered with a proper manual gearbox, rather than a paddle-operated automatic. This is something Toyota needs to retain, despite the rest of its hybrid models being fitted with efficient CVT transmissions.

Another aspect of the GT86's appeal its light weight, which gives fantastic agility and responsiveness. The worry is that this would be lost with the addition of an electric motor and battery pack. Saga doesn't seem so concerned, telling Autocar: "With a good layout design, we think that even if it may be a bit heavier, it can be a fun car to drive."

Given that Toyota's tuning arm, TRD, have already managed to shave 100kg from the standard GT86, hopes are high that any future hybrid model would be able to keep the handling balance that makes the GT86 such an appealing driver's car.