Development of a Toyota GT86 hybrid is progressing behind the scenes, a senior engineering chief revealed exclusively to Autocar at the Frankfurt motor show.

Toyota’s senior manager for drivetrain engineering, Koei Saga, told Autocar: "The development work is quite advanced now, so if the green light is given, we are ready to do it."

Saga hinted the hybrid GT86's drivetrain could use a combination of existing systems seen on road and track. He said: "We are quite prepared because we do have a hybrid system that we can use for that kind of vehicle, utilising the production passenger car hybrid system, and we also have the pure race-oriented hybrid system [in the TS030 LMP1 racer and Prius GT300 from Japan's Super GT series]. 

“So I think it won't be very far in the future that the green light will come."

Though all Toyota-branded passenger cars are front-drive, sister company Lexus uses the same basic Hybrid Synergy Drive technology in its hybrids, including the rear-drive-only GS 450h

The modular nature of the system means the electric motors can be employed in very different scenarios - the single electric motor used in the Yaris Hybrid is also put to work in the four-wheel drive Yaris Hybrid-R concept racer unveiled today, and is applied in unison with a variety of engine types, but not so far with a boxer like the current GT86's 197bhp four-pot. 

While Toyota's passenger car applications use a CVT gearbox, the Yaris Hybrid-R uses a six-speed sequential transmission. It is likely the hybrid Toyota GT86 would need to keep a manual gearbox to maintain driver appeal.

When asked if the weight penalty of hybrid drive batteries could be overcome in a Toyota hybrid sports car, Saga commented: "Yes - with a good layout design, we think that even if may be a bit heavier, it can be a fun car to drive."

Toyota chief engineer Tetsuya Tada previously told Autocar that positioning the batteries to lower the centre of gravity and adding underbody aerodynamic aids to alter the car’s dynamic balance could both be useful strategies in a GT86 hybrid. Toyota's TRD tuning arm has been able to take 100kg out of the standard car's kerb weight.

The cost and size of hybrid drive units is also being reduced, as will be demonstrated in the next-generation Toyota Prius, which aims to simultaneously improve economy, all of which would also favour a hybrid GT86, though perhaps not in its first iteration.