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Auto blogWed, 11 Sep 2013 12:00:00 EST
Did you know that the Yaris is Toyota's best-selling vehicle in Europe? That may help explain to us Americans why the car that's lowest on the company's totem poll here in the US got turned into an all-wheel-drive hybrid track monster for the 2013 Frankfurt Monster Show.
Called the Toyota Yaris Hybrid-R, this three-door pocket rocket isn't just a hybrid making a lot of horsepower - it incorporates technology from Toyota's TS030 Hybrid racecar that competes in the FIA World Endurance Championship series, including the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The Yaris Hybrid-R packs a 300-horsepower, turbocharged, 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine under its hood, which should be enough for most speed freaks, but Toyota pairs it with two 60-hp electric motors at each rear wheel (the same ones used in the production Yaris Hybrid that's sold in Europe). That makes total system output an insane-for-this-size 420 hybrid horsies.
But that's not all, as the Yaris Hybrid-R forgoes the traditional battery pack below the rear seats in favor of a supercapacitor, which can both hold more energy and has a much faster power charge/discharge speed than traditional batteries. Paired with the supercapacitor is a third 60-hp electric motor/generator positioned between the engine and six-speed sequential transmission. Its job is to feed the super capacitor energy during deceleration and direct its power to the rear electric motors when more grip and oomph is needed.
For the first time since 1998, J.D. Power and Associates says its data shows that the average number of problems per 100 cars has increased. The finding is the result of the firm's much-touted annual Vehicle Dependability Study, which charts incidents of problems in new vehicle purchases over three years from 41,000 respondents.
Looking at first-owner cars from the 2011 model year, the study found an average of 133 problems per 100 cars (PP100, for short), up 6 percent from 126 PP100 in last year's study, which covered 2010 model-year vehicles. Disturbingly, the bulk of the increase is being attributed to engine and transmission problems, with a 6 PP100 boost.
Interestingly, JDP notes that "the decline in quality is particularly acute for vehicles with four-cylinder engines, where problem levels increase by nearly 10 PP100." Its findings also noticed that large diesel engines also tended to be more problematic than most five- and six-cylinder engines.
Many Americans view their 30th birthdays as significant milestones, even though the average life expectancy here is more than 2.5 times that age. So you might think Toyota would be keen to party over the 30th anniversary of its 4Runner, since most models don't even live to half that age. You can put that idea away unless you consider discounts of $500 to $1,000 something worthy of cake and kazoos, since it appears that's all the birthday SUV will get. That's right, not even a trim-and-tape special edition or so much as a sticker. We asked Toyota for comment and were told they had "No other 30th anniversary 4Runner items to announce at the time."
So, about those incentives: they climb from $500 on the SR5 and Trail editions to $750 on Premium models and $1,000 on the Limited trims. Toyota says they're available at dealerships now and will last for the entire year. There's a press release below with a little more background, and there's a sad violin playing somewhere in the distance.
Disappointed, party of one, your table is now ready...