The Scion FR-S/Toyota GT86 has caused quite a stir among sports car enthusiasts. This is partly because it’s a fun and interesting car in its own right, and partly because its introduction just might mark the beginning of a new era of affordable, but fun, Japanese sport compacts. Everybody is eagerly awaiting FR-S competitors, but a higher priority for fans is a faster version of the FR-S. For the previous generation of these sorts of cars, this would have meant a turbo version, but in a conversation with Top Gear, the car’s chief engineer, Tetsuya Tada, said that a turbo FR-S wasn’t coming.
What he said Toyota was working on instead was a version with a KERS hybrid system, similar to the one found in Toyota’s TS030 Le Mans prototype racer. This system gathers energy from braking and stores it in supercapacitors, it can then be used to give the car a boost of torque on the straights. This is a technology which is popular in race cars, but hasn’t yet taken off in road cars, and Tada even touched on the reason why, saying “Toyota wants to make things accessible. The capacitor is appropriate technology, but it’s not as lightweight as you might think, and it’s expensive.”
He said that Toyota did indeed have prototype of the car in testing with a KERS system, but he wouldn’t say whether it used capacitors. Neither would he say whether a production version would use them, saying basically that it’s possible, provided the technology improves soon. Of course, this was far from an official confirmation, Tada only said they were working on such a car and that it’s the kind of thing he would like to build. There is no promise that the car will actually be built or that this version will even make it to the US. The idea is certainly exciting, and the FR-S would almost definitely be the cheapest car to have such a system, at least for a while. It has the potential to be the car that would finally make the technology more mainstream.