CARS.COM — The Tokyo Motor Show 2017 may still be about three weeks away, but Toyota has given us an early glimpse of what it'll be revealing there — including the GR HV Sports concept.
I will admit that I have a lot of trouble getting excited for concepts. They often feel like letdowns in a way. The literature is overwrought. And much of the cool styling and technology that makes them novel and impressive doesn't make it to the street.
But the GR HV Sports concept has my blood rushing a little bit, with a few features that had me geeking out.
1. Ignition Switch
Yes, this is just a fancy way to say "start button." But having it mounted into the shift knob is a novel approach, and having to flip up a plastic cover to get at it is a fun piece of boy-racer fantasy. I am a fan of making the car's starting mechanism feel like firing off a sidewinder.
2. Targa-Style Top
Toyota says the styling apes what's seen on their TS050 Hybrid racing car that competes in the World Endurance Championship. I don't quite buy that; the only real similarity is seen in those cascading LED headlights, but what I do buy is that Targa-top-style design. It's borrowed from the Supra, and the removable roof panels are a great way to get a pseudo-convertible drive.
3. Hybrid, Center-Mounted Battery Pack
The GR HV Sports concept is a front-engine, rear-wheel-drive hybrid, and it has its batteries mounted in the middle for better weight distribution. Better weight distribution equals better handling. Sign me up.
4. Automatic and Manual ... What?
This is the most intriguing part of the package. The car technically has an automatic transmission - see the PRND buttons located on the center console. But the last button has a big red M on it that we assume shifts the car into Manual mode, which is controlled using the shifter.
Toyota calls it "six-speed manual-style driving with H-pattern shifting," which leads me to believe that it will function as a normal manual would with the stick being used to change gears. All of the information we have does not mention a clutch, so my best guess is that this won't require you to know how to drive stick to get a similar sensation, but it'll be more authentic than the token experience of steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters.
The Tokyo Motor Show 2017 opens to the public Oct. 28, and we look forward to seeing more of the GR HV Sports concept and other goodies to come out of the event.