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Lexus has put a Toyota GR Yaris engine in its LBX crossover

The LBX Morizo RR concept has broken cover at the Tokyo Auto Salon, featuring a 296bhp three-pot engine lifted from Toyota’s GR Yaris

How do you make the largely anonymous Lexus LBX crossover more interesting? Stuffing a Toyota GR Yaris engine under the bonnet sounds like a good place to start. Meet the LBX Morizo RR; unveiled in concept form at the Tokyo Auto Salon, Lexus’s Audi Q2 rival has been given a thorough performance makeover with a helping hand from Toyota’s GR division. Think of it as a GR Yaris on stilts. 

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Under the bonnet is the hot hatch’s familiar turbocharged three-cylinder engine, with a 296bhp peak output that trumps the new Gen 2 GR Yaris by 20bhp. Peak torque also sees a 7lb ft uplift to 295 – useful given that the LBX Morizo RR carries a few more kilos than the hot supermini (the standard four-wheel drive hybrid LBX weighs 1365kg). 

The engine transplant is made possible by the fact that the LBX shares its TNGA-B platform with the Yaris. Drive is sent to all four wheels via an ‘electronically controlled system’, and the LBX uses a ‘Direct Shift’ eight-speed automatic gearbox (presumably borrowed from the new GR Yaris). 

Beyond this, Lexus has tuned the crossover’s aerodynamics and suspension to fit the new performance brief. The chassis has been lowered by 10mm with final sign-off from Toyota chairman and expert driver Akio Toyoda, who has competed in motorsport under the pseudonym Morizo – hence the hot crossover’s name. 

The Morizo RR concept gets yellow accents on the front grille, brake calipers and roof-mounted aerial fin, as well as revised bumpers for better cooling and aero performance. A 20mm increase in width enables the fitment of new 19-inch wheels too, wrapped in Continental SportContact 7 tyres. 

The Morizo RR is a one-off concept for now with no signs of a production version, but given its proven GR Yaris underpinnings, we’d bet on it giving Ford’s Puma ST a real fight.

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