The debut of Toyota’s new Yaris Hybrid-R concept car at the 2013 Frankfurt Auto Show represents the Japanese automaker’s first foray into the world of high-performance hybrids for road car applications. Toyota has been racing a hybrid Le Mans prototype for the past two years but this is the first time the automaker is demonstrating the technology developed for the race-winning prototype in a road car.

Sadly, that production car is a Yaris hatchback, and it’s strictly a concept for now, but the technology featured in it hints at great things to come from the automaker in terms of performance-oriented hybrid road cars.

As previously reported, the Yaris Hybrid-R concept's drivetrain combines a turbocharged and direct-injected 1.6-liter four-cylinder built by TMG with two electric motors to form a through-the-road all-wheel-drive system. The setup also makes use of a super capacitor to harvest and store energy, just like Toyota’s current TS030 Hybrid Le Mans prototype. Peak output is a V-8-like 414 horsepower.

But the Yaris Hybrid-R has one more electric motor. This third unit is located between the engine and six-speed sequential transmission and acts as a generator, drawing power from the engine during low load situations and converting it to electricity for later use. Thus, the generator works like an advanced traction control system, redirecting torque as electric energy to the motors powering the rear wheels.

A button on the concept’s steering wheel allows the driver to select between “Road” and “Track” modes. Track mode makes full use of available performance, with the rear electric motors able to deliver peak power for five seconds before the capacitors need to be topped up. In Road mode, engine output is reduced to conserve fuel and so is the amount of energy distributed by the capacitor. Depending on the state of charge of the capacitor, the Yaris Hybrid-R can be operated in full electric mode for short distances, for example during stop-and-go traffic.

Designers have also added plenty of unique touches to make the Yaris Hybrid-R concept stand out from the regular Yaris lineup. These include newly designed headlights, LED detailing, a wider front grille and black and blue details that contrast with the white body color.

New intakes help cool the front brakes while a lower lip channels air flow under the body. At the rear, a spoiler is mounted on the roof and the bumper incorporates a large diffuser with an exhaust pipe framed by two air extractors.

Flared fenders house 18-inch TRD wheels fitted with 225/40 Michelin Pilot Sport Cup tires. Grooved and perforated brake discs are gripped by six-piston calipers in the front and four-piston calipers in the rear. Located on the rear pillar, a quick-opening fuel cap allows for quick refueling.

Inside, there are Recaro bucket seats, Alcantara trim and sport pedals lifted from the Toyota GT 86 (Scion FR-S). Also borrowed from the GT 86 is the CAN-Gateway ECU system that allows drivers to download onto a USB or smartphone racing data collected while driving on the track. The driver can then transfer this to the upcoming Gran Turismo 6 Playstation video game. GPS data, longitudinal accelerations, steering angles, gear changes, engine speed, vehicle speed and even water temperature are used to reproduce a real lap of the track inside the game and which can then be played virtually.

However, the Yaris Hybrid-R concept takes this technology one step further, by utilizing the same principle but in a reverse way. Data of the laps recorded through the game could be sent to the vehicle ECU. The electronic management of the car could then anticipate the driving conditions of each track, to optimise the phases of energy recovery, the operation of the traction control and the amount of energy used at each step.

While the Yaris Hybrid-R concept isn’t destined for production, many of its technologies and visual elements will appear on performance-oriented hybrid models from Toyota. These will be grouped under a new Hybrid-R sub-brand and the first could very well be a successor to the legendary Supra sports car.


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