When the time comes to test new powertrains, manufacturers need a chassis that suits their development requirements. This is usually not a problem, because an evolutionary design approach leads to only incremental changes between generations, so engines remain swappable. Alternatively, when hatchback pros decide to spend it all on a wild mid-engine supercar project, there’s always an Ultima GTR nearby to use as an engine mule. Recently, Yamaha needed a car to test its new electric motor, and given that the last one they made was the 1967–70 Toyota 2000GT, they opted for the compact, carbon-fiber monocoque Alfa Romeo 4C instead, which let go of a four-cylinder turbo in favor of Yamaha’s new motor.
You might know Yamaha from your flute-playing days, but since being established as a motor company in 1955, Yamaha gave us not only a fleet of excellent motorbikes, ATVs, and other small vehicles but also a 400-horsepower V-12 supercar that never was, Formula 1 engines that sadly led nowhere, and more importantly, the tone of Toyota’s V-10—which, jammed into the nose of the Lexus LFA, turned out to be the best-sounding production engine of the last two decades.
So when Yamaha’s engineers say an electric motor will be compact and efficient, I have no doubt they can deliver. Sustainable driving fun is also something I’d sign up for, which means all they need to come up now is a cheap, carbon-monocoque EV that’s ultimately faster off the line than an Alfa Romeo 4C. While that’s on the drawing board, we would be happy to take their already-sorted mule for a sustainable joyride.