Rowan Atkinson showed up at Goodwood this week to provide his support for alternative fuels by driving a specially prepared Toyota GR Yaris H2. Known by millions as Mr. Bean, Atkinson is a die-hard car enthusiast and a staunch supporter of the internal combustion engine.
The Toyota GR Yaris H2 Concept was specially prepared for the Goodwood event. According to Atkinson, it still uses its standard turbocharged 1.6-liter three-cylinder engine, but the engine management system has been tweaked so the car runs on hydrogen. It's not a fuel cell vehicle. Instead, it uses hydrogen directly injected into the engine for internal combustion.
Atkinson, who owns a regular GR Yaris, found the hydrogen-powered hot hatch "tremendous fun." He praised Toyota and Formula One for working to keep the internal combustion engine alive by using clean, alternative fuels. Toyota is developing a GR H2 Le Mans prototype to race on hydrogen fuel in 2026. As for Formula One, it will switch to hybrid powertrains running sustainable fuels in that same timeframe.
An early adopter of electric car technology, Atkinson holds a degree in electrical and electronic engineering. However, he has become increasingly critical of electric cars, going so far as to write an article for the Guardian, where he states he feels "duped." In the article, he encourages companies to explore alternative fuels, including hydrogen, as a way to promote the sustainability of the internal combustion engine.
That's not to say he doesn't still love the idea of electric cars, just that electric cars with their heavy and costly lithium-ion batteries are not the "environmental panacea" they are claimed to be. Atkinson's own car collection includes some impressive machinery. In addition to the GR Yaris, he owns, or has previously owned, a McLaren F1, Lancia Delta Integrale HF, and an Acura NSX.
When the Toyota GR Yaris was launched, it gave Toyota a serious hot hatch competitor to the Subaru WRX and Volkswagen GTI. In stock form, the GR Yaris' 1.6-liter engine produces 257 horsepower but is a resilient powerplant that can be tuned to make as much as 741 horsepower while retaining its original crankshaft, pistons, and rods.