Toyota debuted its odd new 86-based GR HV Sports Concept today ahead of the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show.
The GR HV Sports Concept is a hybrid version of the 86 that pulls inspiration from the automaker’s TS050 LMP1 racecar, but there are a few aspects of the car that have left us scratching our heads, so let’s go over them.
1. The Styling
Toyota says the GR HV pulls its styling inspiration from the TS050 LMP1 racecar. It has tried its best to integrate the LMP1’s nose, headlights, and taillights into the concept and it also has the same wheels as the hybrid racecar. We get why Toyota wanted to use some TS050 inspiration with the GR HV, as they are both hybrid performance vehicles, but we’re not sure that nose/headlight combo is really working. The TS050’s taillights work a bit better on the 86’s body, we admit, but the edgy front and rear fascias look weird in contrast to the soft lines of the mostly unchanged sides. Maybe we’re not the target customer here, but we’re not convinced this styling makeover has worked.
2. The Powertrain
Perhaps Toyota will share more info on the GR HV’s powertrain when it debuts in Tokyo, but right now, we have no clue what it consists of. Toyota’s press release only went as far to say it’s powered by “THS-R (Toyota Hybrid System-Racing) that is infused with hybrid technology refined by the TS050 Hybrid.” We assume it has paired the 200 horsepower 2.0-liter Boxer engine with some sort of mild hybrid system for a boost in power. The lithium-ion battery pack is mounted “near the center of the vehicle” for weight distribution purposes. You asked for a turbocharged version of the 86 and you got this hybrid concept thing. Happy?
3. The Transmission
We’ll preface this point with the admission that we love racing and love to see racing tech transferred to the road. We’re a bit surprised to see Toyota using such direct inspiration from its LMP1 car on the 86, though. It doesn’t wear the LMP1’s styling that well and the 86 was always about driving enjoyment, so it seems a bit odd to us that Toyota would weigh it down with an LMP-inspired hybrid drivetrain for the purpose of fuel economy and performance. We would have rather seen an 86 concept inspired by the 86 GT300 car with some crazy aero, a stripped out interior and tuned-up version of the Boxer. But we get it — eco cars are all the rage right now. We’re still not OK with that front end, though.
5. The Targa Roof
This may be sort of nitpicky, but the Targa roof is another weird aspect of this car. If it’s a motorsport-inspired performance car, why does it have an open-top roof? Toyota says this is reminiscent of the Toyota Sports 800 and Supra, but it only makes it look like the GR HV is having an identity crisis. Is it a car for driving enjoyment or fuel economy? Is it motorsports inspired or is it for a leisurely, open-top Sunday drive? It’s trying to do all of the things at once (including being both an automatic and a manual) and we can’t help but think it just lacks focus.
We’re being a bit mean to the GR HV, so we’ll end by saying we’re happy to see Toyota expressing an interest in performance cars and motorsports. It’s just that GR HV a bit polarizing in regards to styling and its powertrain/transmission combo is downright weird. Perhaps our numerous questions about this motorsports-inspired performance hybrid convertible coupe eco car thing will be answered in Tokyo later this month.