Toyota’s 986hp hybrid supercar is the antithesis of autonomous

Chris Davies - Jan 12, 2018, 10:10 am CST
Toyota’s 986hp hybrid supercar is the antithesis of autonomous

Think Toyota hybrids and it might be earnest but less than soul-stirring cars like the Prius that come to mind, but the automaker is betting a 986 HP electrified supercar will change your mind. Say hello, then, to the GR Super Sport Concept, a sibling to the TS050 that currently competes in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC), and certainly not your parents’ Camry.

Making its debut at the Tokyo Auto Salon 2018 today, the GR Super Sport Concept is the latest example of Toyota promising to take racing-honed technology and apply it to production cars. That’s not to say, before you whip out your wallet, that you’ll necessarily be able to buy this race-inspired monster any time soon. However, Toyota is arguing that it has clear implications for its production cars.

Under the bodywork is a twin-turbocharged direct injection 2.4-liter V6. That’s been combined with an electrification system of hybrid motors, the Toyota Hybrid System-Racing, or THS-R, developed by the Toyota Gazoo Racing team. Together, they’re good for 735 kW or 1,000 ps.

The parts overlap between GR Super Sport Concept and TS050 is considerable, the automaker says, and will be instrumental to development of each in future. However, equally important is the concept car’s value as a signpost of where Toyota sees the future of motoring. Considering the concept it showed off at CES 2018 earlier this week, you’d be forgiven for being a little confused on that front.

Toyota’s big news as the Consumer Electronics Show was the e-Palette Concept, effectively an autonomous cargo container on wheels that could, in various sizes and wheelbases, offer partners like Amazon, Uber, Pizza Hut, and more a way to take pop-up stores, packages, passengers, or restaurants on the go. Unusually for a self-driving concept, Toyota said that it was open to using rival autonomous systems on the e-Palette, though its own “Guardian” watchdog would be a mandatory failsafe.

“If the e-Palette Concept is the next generation of the horse-drawn carriage, the GR Super Sport Concept would be the polar opposite as the next-generation racehorse,” Shigeki Tomoyama, president of Gazoo Racing Company, said of the two concept cars. “Its appeal is more personal, like that of a much-loved horse to its owner. Despite the differences between the two concept models, both are electrified vehicles equipped with the latest IT technologies and are set to become safe and environmentally friendly connected cars.”

In short, while autonomous vehicles which relegate driving to software will proliferate, Toyota and its racing partner aren’t counting out driving pleasure either. How that might translate to a hybrid supercar wearing the Toyota and Gazoo badges remains to be seen – forgive us for imagining the automaker’s take on McLaren’s P1 – and for now it’ll likely be cars from the GR sub-brand which are left to carry the “driving enthusiast” torch.

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