A high-performance petrol-electric hybrid version of the GT86 sports car is under consideration at Toyota, Autocar can reveal. 

According to chief engineer Tetsuya Tada, all routes remain open to conjuring more performance from the rear-driven two-seater, with an eye on the creation of a faster and more focussed version of the acclaimed rear-drive coupe to be released later in the car’s lifecycle. 

“I’ve been asked a lot about a turbocharging,” Tada told us. “We are already working on a mid-life facelift for the car, and we are investigating both turbocharging and supercharging too,” he added. “But an electric motor assistance solution is also possible, and would bring benefits that forced induction does not.”

Toyota took the wraps off a conceptual convertible version of the GT86 at the Geneva show, which is almost certain to make production. It nearly didn't, however. “The management considered the GT86 very risky,” Tada said. “They wanted proof that the ’86 coupe would hit its sales targets before they would sign off on a convertible.

"Now that they have that proof, we can begin to think about other development ideas for the car. But we must guard against compromising any of the key virtues of the standard GT86 in the pursuit of more power.”

An electric motor assist solution, Tada suggested, could provide a substantial low-rpm torque boost for the naturally aspirated engine without affecting throttle response or compromising on fuel economy or emissions. 

Similar to the ‘IMA’ system used on the Honda CRZ, the hybrid system would be much cheaper and simpler than the one used on the Prius economy car. The batteries, meanwhile, could be used to lower the car’s centre of gravity even further.

The Toyota engineer suggested that the weight added by such a system could at least partly be offset, and that experimental underbody aerodynamic parts could be used to adjust the car’s handling balance should weight distribution be affected.

“Our TRD tuning department has found it easy to take 100kg out of the kerbweight, and have developed certain underbody fins and plates that can be employed to alter the dynamic balance of the car, to increase or reduce oversteer at medium and high speeds. They have quite a pronounced effect,” he said.