Manufacturers usually give at least some vague hint as to what their concepts are for. Perhaps it’s a very close preview for an incoming production car. Maybe it’s showcasing some new technology. Or it could be all about future design language. But at the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show, there was a conspicuous lack of hinting going on.
The Mazda Coupe concept? Your guess is as good as ours. Honda’s effortlessly cool Sports EV? Well, we know a production version of its Urban EV brother is happening, but we’ve no idea if the coupe will end up in showrooms. And hardest to work out of all is the GT86-based Toyota GR HV concept.
It raises four main questions. Is this what the next GT86 will look like? Will there be a targa-topped GT86 in the future? Is the car’s unusual automatic gearbox with its manual-like H-pattern shifter going into production? And finally, is there a hybrid GT86 incoming? Currently, we’re thinking probably not for the first two, and quite possibly for the second two.
At the show, project manager Tomohiko Shishido claimed there was indeed a demand from customers for a manual-like shift on an automatic gearbox. “They want to choose the gear - we want to give them the operational sensation [of the manual],” he told us. This does make some degree of sense - hybrid cars are very rarely fitted with manuals, so a quirky gearbox like the HV’s - which lets you shift in a manual-like six-speed H-pattern - could have a place amid the rise of electrified cars.
It wouldn’t be tied to one kind of gearbox, either. “You could apply the same technological concept to either a regular automatic transmission or a CVT,” Shishido-san explains. Although of course, the gears you’d shifting through on a CVT would of course be ‘simulated’ ratios.
As to whether or not Toyota will put the idea into production, the prospect certainly wasn’t ruled out, but Shishido-san didn’t expand upon his simple reply of “I would like to.” But it would be strange for the Japanese firm to roll out such a curious idea without at least some intent to make it, wouldn’t it? Plus, there is a drive within the company to make more fun-to-drive hybrids, hence why an electrified GT86 could be on the cards.
We’re yet to be convinced by the prospect of such a transmission - if it’s not a real, bona fide manual, I’m not sure what the point is, especially when paddle shifters do a perfectly good job of giving you control over an auto ‘box. But still, you can colour us intrigued. We’d certainly be up for trying one, particularly if it came in a hybrid GT86. With a targa top. Go on Toyota, you know you want to…