It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s a Yaris. It's a car! After weeks of teasing, Toyota finally confirmed today that its Hybrid R concept, which debuts in early September at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show, is based off its subcompact hatchback.
After playing with Toyota’s shadowy teaser image in Photoshop, we thought the concept bore a close resemblance to the European market Yaris Hybrid. Sure enough, Toyota confirmed the Yaris roots today, publishing a complete preview rendering while simultaneously declaring the car’s formal name as “Yaris Hybrid R Concept.”
Say that name three times fast.
Speaking of three times fast, we’ve no doubt the Yaris Hybrid R will be much, much faster than the stock 106-hp 2013 Toyota Yaris hatchback sold here in North America. Toyota says its Toyota Motorsports GmBH subsidiary – the former F1 braintrust now responsible for creating and fielding the TS030 hybrid prototype racer at Le Mans – developed the Yaris Hybrid R’s driveline. A turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder is tasked with drive the front wheels, while a pair of electric motors power the rear axle, thus blessing the Hybrid R with all-wheel-drive. Performance figures have yet to be disclosed, but Toyota has previously hinted that the Yaris Hybrid R’s driveline could produce a net output of “400+” horsepower.
As neat as a 400-hp Yaris sleeper may be, it seems Toyota is wrapping the Yaris Hybrid R in some dramatic bodywork to help draw attention on the Frankfurt show floor. The headlamps and grille resemble a stock Yaris Hybrid, but the front fascia is anything but. A large, trapezoidal lower grille is enveloped in a greenish-blue surround, which transitions into a giant chin splitter. Two large air intakes flank the lower grille, and lend the Yaris Hybrid R a “spindle grille” look usually reserved for Lexus models. Rocker sills also appear to be enlarged, as do the fenders; good thing, as if this sketch is remotely accurate, the Yaris Hybrid R will roll on massive 10-spoke aluminum wheels.
Toyota notes the Yaris Hybrid R celebrates 15 years of Toyota hybrids, and that it will introduce another 16 “new or revised” hybrid models by the end of 2015. Is that a sign the Hybrid R is production-bound? We wouldn’t count on it, but one piece of the show car will live on outside the auto show circuit: that turbocharged 1.6-liter I-4, nicknamed the “Global Race Engine,” will likely power TMG’s return to WRC rallying in 2014.