Performance cars have become quite popular lately, and as a result (or perhaps because of), more and more automakers are showing an increased interest in motor sports and track racing. Nissan NISMO is probably the best example right now, but that’s because Carlos Ghosn has a penchant for staying ahead of the curve.
According to a very interesting interview between AutoExpress and Toyota Europe Vice President Karl Schlicht, they are “currently discussing store lines for Toyota models”. In other words, Toyota wants their own performance marque.
Toyota Yaris Hybrid-R is “Just a Concept”
Toyota is certainly no stranger to motorsport performance. Even without their decades of experience from eons past (back before hybrids stole their focus), in the past few years we’ve seen the limited edition Lexus LFA supercar, the Toyota GT86/Scion FR-S, the Lexus LS Sports 650 Concept, and of course the Yaris Hybrid-R Concept.
Schlicht made it clear throughout the interview that they want to develop a lot more than just concepts and limited edition models in the future, although the Yaris Hybrid-R specifically may not ever see production. Nonetheless, he rightly claims that their customers have “an appetite for Toyota to do credible performance cars”. While the Yaris Hybrid-R likely won’t see production, the Lexus LS Sports 650 almost certainly will.
Schlicht was very careful not to make any promises, especially regarding the Hybrid-R or its powertrain. However, it should be noted that throughout the Frankfurt Motor Show, Toyota was very careful to emphasize that their showcase concept was built using a powertrain configuration inherited from TMG’s TS030 Hybrid Le Mans racecar. So, this is clearly a powertrain that they want to put to use… Perhaps in the revival of their beloved Toyota Supra?
Incidentally, Toyota’s German performance arm, TMG, is also behind the development of the Lexus LS Sports 650. Coincidence? Maybe, maybe not.
It should be noted that Toyota technically already has a performance sub-brand in the Australia-based Toyota Racing Division (TRD). However, the TRD marque hasn’t been able to make waves in international markets. Plus, it’s pretty safe to say that Germany trumps Australia for most premium drivers.
What it All Means…
In the past year, we’ve had confirmation of a 2015 – 2016 hybrid supercar from all three major Japanese automakers (Toyota, Nissan, Honda). But, Toyota doesn’t want to make only one supercar — they’re ready to join the likes of Nissan NISMO and Mercedes-Benz AMG with their own performance oriented sub-brand, and it’s almost guaranteed to be TMG. Whatever the brand ends up being, it will be invigorating to see Toyota put their massive resources into the unbridled development of Japanese supercars and high-performance models. Hopefully we’ll learn more in the upcoming Tokyo Motor Show.
Until then, here’s a question for you… Would you rather see TMG develop track-tuned versions of Toyota and Lexus models already in production, or start from the ground up with completely new offerings? If you’d rather they tune up current models, then which ones?