Mild hybrid power for Toyota's next 86

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Japanese sources say that Toyota is hard at work on a high-output engine for the 86 sports car, and that engine will be coupled to an F1-inspired energy recovery system.

The next generation model of 86 will be based on the latest MX-5 platform, as we reported last month, which would leave Subaru out in the cold, and without its own branded counterpart to sell.

Toyota is pushing ahead with this strategy for what it deems to be all the right reasons: performance, fuel economy and cost. The turbocharged 1.5-litre powerplant its engineers are rumoured to be working on for the next 86 mirrors Mazda's SKYACTIV 1.5-litre four-cylinder configuration, but the Toyota unit is said to be rated at up to 140kW.

That's a far cry from the 96kW figure for the standard MX-5 engine. And both performance and fuel economy are set to be enhanced with an F1-style KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System) system, delivering Toyota an ace up its sleeve.

Toyota's bean counters are adamant that the new 86 will not only benefit from Mazda's suspension and chassis-tuning prowess, but will generate ample power via the new engine – and for a showroom sticker price on par with today's.

Toyota signed an agreement in May this year to share technologies with Mazda, thus opening the door to using the new MX-5's chassis and suspension setup, which was just what Toyota executives had been seeking.

And what of Subaru? The 2.0 litre boxer engine powering the current 86 and BRZ boasted beefy low to mid-range torque and a unique engine note, and helped to redefine both brand's sports car line-ups. But Toyota has not been completely happy with the boxer engine's fuel economy figures and could not see a sizeable improvement in the next generation model.

Furthermore, some Subaru executives reportedly harbour some reservations about the 86/BRZ project. Word from within Subaru is that the sports car has diluted Subaru's strong brand message, associating horizontally-opposed engines with AWD safety.

It's speculated a concept for the next 86 will debut during 2017, with production models appearing in showrooms by 2020 for around 2.5 million yen.

Photos from Best Car magazine

Words by Peter Lyon – www.motoring.com.au

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