Toyota is set to lead a raft of Japanese hybrid sports cars with a successor to the MR2 and a reborn Supra. Both are due within the next four years.

Scheduled for late 2013, the MR2 replacement will have a hybrid powertrain based on a 1.5-litre petrol engine.

See pics of the Toyota Supra and MR2 concepts

The model was originally going to use a V6 hybrid powertrain, but the success of Honda’s CR-Z in Japan is said to have prompted a rethink.

The Supra successor — previewed by the FT-HS (Future Toyota Hybrid Sport) at the 2007 Detroit show — was said to have been canned. But strengthening hybrid sales have earned the model a second chance, so a new Supra — powered, like the FT-HS, by a V6 hybrid powertrain — is back on track.

The model’s development is now running almost in parallel with that of the FT-86. That car, a joint project with Subaru, has been delayed until at least 2013.

Toyota’s hybrid sports models will be joining an increasingly crowded market. Honda is planning its own high-performance hybrid sports car, and Nissan and Mitsubishi are planning to go a step further with all-electric sports cars.

Nissan’s two-door sports EV is said to use the Leaf for key mechanicals and both the Leaf and the Landglider concept for its inspiration. The car is unlikely to adopt the Landglider’s ability to lean into corners, though. It’s due to be launched in late 2014.

Mitsubishi, meanwhile, is planning a two-door sports version of the i-MiEV electric city car by 2012. And, as revealed by Autocar, it is also planning to switch its Evo to a hybrid powertrain.

Mazda is one mainstream brand that seems reluctant to join the pack. Its next-generation MX-5, due in 2012, will employ downsized versions of the firm’s new SkyG engines — possibly 1.3-litre units with turbocharging — but it won’t get a hybrid.

Peter Lyon

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