Offering an early look at how Toyota is planning to leverage its hybrid technology into a more performance-oriented vein, the Toyota Yaris Hybrid-R Concept makes its formal debut in Frankfurt. Based on a Yaris 3-door, this street-legal, all-wheel drive road rocket borrows design elements from the firm's impressive TS030 hybrid prototype racer that finished second overall in this year's 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Dubbed an "e-4WD hybrid," motive force for the Yaris Hybrid-R Concept is provided by a 300-horsepower/1.6-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder GRE (Global Race Engine) developed by Toyota Motorsport that drives the front wheels and two 60-horse electric motor/generators culled from the standard European Yaris Hybrid -- one at each rear wheel. Collectively, the system cranks out a heady 420 ponies, quite sufficient to ensure a most engaging drive experience.

Unlike Toyota's other street hybrids, the Hybrid-R Concept replaces its conventional battery pack with a super capacitor. Similar to the one used in the TS030, this alternative storage device can quickly and efficiently be charged and discharged as needed under braking or acceleration, respectively. To ensure it always has some zap on hand, the Yaris Hybrid-R Concept also is fitted with a third 60-horsepower motor that acts as a supplemental generator when needed.

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The Hybrid-R system is designed to function in either Road or Track modes. In the former, the engine output is reduced and the super capacitor can release captured electric energy for a maximum of 10 seconds, although the rear-wheel motors are restricted to a combined maximum of 40 horsepower. Track mode allows full engine and motor output, although the super capacitor can only hold enough charge to make the supplemental 120 horsepower happen for five seconds. Like other all-wheel drive hybrid systems, Hybrid-R also includes full torque-vectoring capabilities and advanced traction control. It also will allow full-electric operation for limited distance at low speed - like in a parking lot.

To look and act the part of a proper road rager, Toyota also gave the Yaris Hybrid-R Concept a major cosmetic and mechanical makeover. A more aggressive fascia with bigger air intakes and a deeper and more efficient splitter up front is balanced by a rear treatment that includes an integrated roof spoiler and a revised bumper with a functional lower diffuser framed by air extractors. In addition to its full sport suspension and high-performance brakes, the Hybrid-R Concept fills its prominently flared fenders with 18-inch TRD alloy wheels wrapped in super-sticky 225/40 Michelin Pilot Sport Cup tires.

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The competition motif carries over to the Yaris Hybrid-R Concept's cabin, which is rendered in black leather and blue Alcantara. Beyond deeply bolstered Recaro buckets, this hot Toyota one-off features a multifunction sport steering wheel, a sequential gearbox with an ideally positioned racing-style push/pull shift lever and a set of metal sport pedals from the FT86/FRS. The car also features a CAN-Gateway ECU system that can record a full spectrum of vehicle data from real-time track lapping sessions on a USB drive or smartphone. Unlike the basic system, the more advanced unit in the Yaris Hybrid R Concept also can process that information to anticipate conditions at any location on a given circuit and determine subsequently the optimal programming parameters for the vehicle's overall energy use/recovery, traction control and handling.

No word yet on when we might see the first application of Toyota's new Hybrid-R technology on a production model. As far as we're concerned, it can't come too soon.

Other Concept Cars...

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