There’s now a hydrogen powered Toyota GR Yaris hot hatch | Top Gear
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Friday 22nd September
Future Tech

There’s now a hydrogen powered Toyota GR Yaris hot hatch

Weren’t expecting this, were you? Toyota puts Mirai tech in its AWD superstar but keeps the 3cyl turbo engine

Published: 03 Dec 2021

Plenty of people believe hydrogen is the best fuel to future cars in our future, not electricity. But for now the refuelling infrastructure is sorely lacking and the cars - while impressive, in the case of the Toyota Mirai and Hyundai Nexo - aren’t necessarily exciting.

Enter one of the cars of the last 12 months. It’s been hard to escape the Toyota GR Yaris in 2021, whether it’s at the paddock of a UK trackday or in the discombobulating world of social media influencers. Or, y’know, holding its own in the company of a Ford RS200 and Renault 5 Turbo.

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Toyota’s cottoned on and has presented us with this, a hydrogen powered GR. The best bit is that it keeps its stock 1.6-litre 3cyl turbo engine – perhaps the most exciting 3cyl on the planet, and certainly within a production car – but somehow hooks it up to all the fuel tanks and systems from the Mirai saloon, which drives its wheels with electric motors.

“The hydrogen combustion engine technology is still in the early stages of conceptual development and experimentation, having started in 2017, and is not yet ready for commercialisation,” says Toyota. But it’s shown us a couple of cars in the meantime to prove it’s possible, chiefly this AWD hot hatch and a Corolla Sport racecar that competes in Japan’s Super Taikyu series.

Whether swapping petrol for hydrogen makes any differences to the GR’s 257bhp and 266lb ft outputs – and thus its 5.5sec 0-62mph time and 143mph top speed – we don’t yet know. Those vented rear window covers suggest some of the H2 elements may impinge on the already small rear quarters, though.

“Hydrogen combusts at a faster rate than petrol, resulting in good responsiveness while delivering excellent environmental performance,” we’re told. “In addition to being extremely clean, hydrogen combustion has the potential to deliver a fun-to-drive experience with the acoustic and sensory sensations that characterise internal combustion engines.”

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It’s fair to assume this will remain an experimental prototype rather than something sold in the showroom, though we’ll happily be proved wrong. Would you pick a hydrogen hot hatch over a petrol one? Presuming you could refill the thing easily, of course…

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