May 2012
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Stupid? Toyota’s 400 hp super Supra hybrid car

The original FT-HS hybrid concept at NAIAS in 2007

Do Supra fans want a $60,000, 400-hp hybrid?

Since at least 2007, Toyota has been kicking around the idea of a sporty hybrid, but just how sporty has been a bit unclear. Would the new hybrid follow more in the lines of the Honda CR-Z hybrid that offers a sporty look and sportier drive than most hybrids, but isn’t really a sport’s car? Or would it be a real horsepower-loaded sports car?

In the last few years a Supra replacement has been the hot idea, and Toyota could be ready to offer a new Supra hybrid by 2015.

According to MotorTrend the all-wheel drive, 400-hp Supra hybrid has not been officially approved, and it probably won’t be confirmed until the economy improves a bit more. One way or another, however, a sporty hybrid from Toyota does seem inevitable.

If the Supra hybrid gets the nod, I wonder about the market. Is there a market? Supra fans on MotorTrend don’t seem too happy with the idea of a hybrid powertrain, but I’m betting they might change their mind if Toyota can kick up the torque thanks to a burst of electric power, for instance. Still, it’s not going to be an easy sell.

In my opinion a Toyota sporty hybrid should follow the path of the CR-Z, but backed up with about twice as much horsepower — around 200 hp — instead of 4 times as much. Think of consumers that might like the idea of a Prius, but that want something with more power and, definitely, a more sporty look. It doesn’t have to have super car horsepower. If someone is going to buy a sporty hybrid, it’s not pure performance they want. It’s higher fuel economy in a sporty package that can offer an occasional burst of performance.

Nevertheless, I have to admit that I’d be interested to see if Toyota could use its hybrid technology to convince a consumer group like Supra fans, that are often driven by hybrid-hate, that hybrid cars are better. That might make the Supra hybrid worth the effort.

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