When I heard that Toyota was building a racing hybrid concept based on the Toyota Yaris Hybrid, I assumed that we'd be seeing a sort of idealized B-Spec racer. My best guesses were for about 200 total system horsepower (which is high for B-Spec, but this was to be a concept), loads of grip, very little weight, and so on.
Each of the rear wheels is powered by its own 45kW electric motor, making the Hybrid-R an all-wheel-drive vehicle. Individual motors mean the system can use torque vectoring when cornering. Total electric output on the rear axle is about 120 horsepower.
The rear wheels recapture energy under braking, storing the electricity in a super capacitor where it can be quickly discharged to provide bursts of energy. Toyota's TS030 race car uses this same technology.
This Yaris gets a heart transplant and is now powered by Toyota's turbocharged and direct-injected 1.6-liter Global Race Engine (GRE). Output to the front wheels now totals 300 horsepower and 309 pound-feet of torque.
There is a third electric motor located between the gasoline engine and the six-speed sequential transmission on the front axle. When the vehicle detects that the 300 horsepower is overwhelming the front wheels, it can engage to convert excess mechanical energy -- that would be lost to wheelspin -- into electrical energy that is sent to power the motors at the rear axle. This is sort of like how a center differential can redirect power in a conventional AWD system, only with electrons instead of driveshafts.
The Yaris then receives a host of styling upgrades to make it look as special as I'd assume it drives. The large, hexagonal lower grille opening reminds me of the Ford Fiesta ST. The side intakes that flank that main opening help to cool the Hybrid-R's six-piston front brakes. Four-piston calipers grip at the rear. 18-inch TRD wheels fitted with 225/40 R18 Michelin Pilot Sport Cup tires fill the wheel wells.
The driver can select from two different driving modes. The Track setting puts the full power of the Hybrid-R at the driver's command. A Road setting slightly reduces the output of the gasoline engine and limits the power of the electric motors on the rear axle to a total of 30kW (40hp). The hybrid system works to improve efficiency in Road mode and the Hybrid-R can be driven very short distances under pure electric power.
The Yaris Hybrid-R concept features the same CAN-Gateway ECU system that was developed for and featured in the Toyota GT 86 (our Scion FR-S) sports coupe. Drivers can download their GPS and ECU driving data when visiting certain racetracks, import it into the upcoming Gran Turismo 6 game for PS3, and watch replays of their run rendered in the game's engine.
The data can flow in both directions over the CAN-Gateway: drivers can practice driving the Hybrid-R on a virtual racetrack in the game and then upload the game data to the car, where the ECU can use this data to anticipate the driving conditions of the actual track, adjusting the energy recovery, traction control, and power delivery based on the game's data.
Toyota tells us that the interior is a race-ready setup with pedals from the GT 86 sports coupe, a sequential shifter located high on the dashboard, and more, but the concept shown featured blacked-out windows that obscured these details.
The standard Yaris Hybrid, on the other hand, is an entry-level model that uses the same version of Toyota's Hybrid Synergy Drive that can be found in the Prius C: a 1.5-liter gasoline hybrid system that outputs about 99 horsepower.