Toyota is hoping to take a giant leap into the future with the help of the Great Gazoo. That’s Gazoo Racing Masters of Nurburgring, or GRMN, which partnered with the giant automaker to pull together a turbocharged version of the Toyota Vitz for the recent Tokyo Auto Salon.
The 178-horsepower subcompact – known in much of the rest of the world as the Yaris – is more than a one-off show car, however. Industry sources say it’s a sign of things to come from Toyota, which has been focusing the major portion of its engineering resources on gas-electric hybrids while most of its key competitors are racing to market with downsized, direct injection turbo engines.
Turbos may not yield quite the urban fuel economy of a hybrid but they deliver more customer-pleasing performance than the typically anemic hybrid, along with improved highway mileage. They’re also, typically, a lot cheaper than hybrid systems that depend on more complex driveline components, including expensive battery packs.