Toyota GR EV ‘Fun to drive’ and undergoing testing

Toyota GR EV ‘Fun to drive’ and undergoing testing

Toyota Gazoo working on a ‘fun to drive’ BEV Sports car to get the latest battery tech but also ICE-era characteristics such as engine noise and manual shift.

Toyota Gazoo Racing has begun testing its first battery-powered prototype, with Toyota chairman and so-called master driver Akio Toyoda personally involved in development work to ensure that it meets expectations, Autocar can exclusively reveal. Talking during the recent Le Mans 24 Hour race, Toyoda – who recently bequeathed the role of Toyota CEO to GR boss Koji Sato – revealed that his baseline expectations for the BEV are for it to be at least as good to drive as current combustion Gazoo cars, which include the GR86, GR Supra, GR Yaris and GR Corolla.

“I actually had the opportunity to test drive a BEV GR we’re working on recently,” said Toyoda. “I don’t know if that car will make it onto the market yet, but the first priority of making these kinds of cars is that they need to be fun to drive, no matter what powertrain they use.”

Consequently, Toyoda suggested that the BEV would be developed to have many characteristics of ICE cars, including having a clutch, a manual gearbox and even engine-like noises.

Toyoda has long championed the aural delight of driving a car quickly and has cited the importance of noise when promoting Toyota’s involvement in developing hydrogen-combustion tech. “The biggest difference to other BEVs we’re developing is that when you’re in the GR BEV, you can actually hear the engine noises, even if you can’t smell gasoline,” said Toyoda. “There’s also a manual transmission with a clutch.

“If you put someone in the car and asked them to drive it and guess the powertrain, they probably wouldn’t be able to tell you.”

Toyoda’s reference to the manual gearbox adds credence to suggestions that the GR BEV could be co-developed with a Lexus equivalent. Toyota’s upmarket division last year revealed early details of a manualgearbox project that it was working on for BEVs, with shifts simulated by adjusting the torque settings of the electric motor.

Toyoda also suggested that it could be programmed to allow the car to roll back on a hill or even potentially emulate a stall to ensure that poor driving would be punished. “We would want to make sure we continue to offer products for enthusiasts,” said chief engineer Takashi Watanabe at the time.

Underlining the prototype nature of the GR test car and how its development showcased Toyota’s willingness to take on new ideas, Toyoda added: “Whether it makes it to the market or not, what the company is trying to do is explore the idea of what it is that we shouldn’t lose in a car even if it becomes BEV.

“I can proudly say that this is an example of how Toyota has changed into a company where members can look into an idea that sounds interesting, create a car from their ideas and then show it for test drives.”

Toyoda added that the new GR would look like a BEV from the outside, suggesting it will be developed as such from the ground up, not be based on an existing car.

If you asked someone to drive it and guess the powertrain, they probably couldn’t tell you.

Gazoo’s first battery-electric car could be a bespoke coupé.

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