Toyota Developing RWD Hybrid Coupe
The fellas at Autoexpress are saying it’s the “new MR2,” although there’s no indication yet that the planned hybrid coupe will rock the nameplate’s trademark mid-engine architecture. Toyota’s CR-Z fighter will be RWD though, making it the second rumored RWD Toyota coupe in the last year. The first, a joint Toyota-Subaru may or may not be on hold. “We have set a tough price point (expected to be around £20,000 ($28K)), as it will be easier to sell if it is affordable,” says Toyota VP Masatami Takimoto. “It has to be fun to drive, too, which means the hybrid set-up must be different to the Prius’s, with greater responsiveness.” If the hybrid coupe is “done right,” reckons Autoexpress, it will do 0-60 mph in seven seconds, while getting over 50 mpg. Looks like Honda isn’t the only firm trying to mate green with fun these days.
"And I’ve always wondered, when you’re runnin through the hills, all out, what happens when the battery runs out of juice? Fun will end real quick…" Not arguing with this statement, b/c that's exactly what the Prius does at the moment. I am curious as to how they'll set this up though. If Toyota pairs the electric motor to a large turbo/small displacement engine, and then uses it to provide low rpm torque it could be an interesting alternative to VW's twincharger setup or really any twin-scroll turbo. Of course, it'll probably be the heaviest of all these solutions, but it could still be fun. Also, when you run out of charge you would still have a bit of (very laggy) turbo torque up top to play with, which does have its own charm. I'm not at all sure what that would do to the 50mpg target. Oh yeah, and without a manual transmission they probably shouldn't even bother.
Jerome, I once sold a model of airplane that was in almost every way superior to it's competitor. There were a couple kind of people I learned would never buy it. First, there were people who would, for various reasons, search for the one or two things that were different, or in which it could not beat the competition, and then proclaim our far superior product a dud (most of these guys weren't real buyers to start with, and the few that were often later admitted their regrets for buying the other plane). And then there were the few folks for whom the other product actually was the better product because of their specific tastes or needs (I usually figured these guys out quickly, and kept everything friendly so I could get a chance to sell them their next plane because needs change). I don't know which one you are, but I can tell you that there are reasons why one might prefer a turntable to a CD player. That doesn't make the CD player worthless. There is no free lunch. Therefore, there is always a compromise with a different design. I suspect spirited driving on rural roads is something you value highly, so I would say this car is not for you. Still, that doesn't mean it's a dud. There are a lot of people who rarely, if ever, go for drives like you do, but who still will buy a car which adds a little fun going from A to B.
Here's the question: Did people refrain from buying the S2000 or the last MR2 in droves because the gas mileage was poor? My guess is that they didn't buy those cars because they were obsessed with buying even poorer mpg SUVs at the time. They wanted bigger cars. Now, when people are starting to want smaller cars, Honda and Toyota are talking about adding weight and cost to the small cars by making them hybrids. That makes no sense. My guess is that in two years, an MR2 similar to the AW11 would sell very well. It doesn't need to be 50 mpg, but 30 would do nicely, and would be achievable with light weight and a smart motor (like the original). Please, Toyota and Honda, don't make this mistake. People who buy small 2-seaters are not eminently practical. I'm not saying the track/autocross market, the tuner market, or the "mid-life crisis" markets are huge on their own, but those markets together have treated the Miata pretty well (and my guess is they would do more if the NC Miata didn't look so ridiculous). *sigh*
It just struck me...Toyota may just be aiming for the Mitsubishi Eclipse buyers (no, not the guys who bought the 4wd turbo). If that's the case then RWD is an unnecessary yet welcome addition and a mildly tweaked Prius drivetrain will slip by unnoticed. Most of them probably have never heard the acronym CVT, that'll slip by too. As a (very) lazy GT I suppose it might work. All I know is that this thing will likely get butchered by the real RWD talent with a Prius drivetrain (and the inevitable Toyota steering/suspension). They must have something else in mind.