Earlier this year, Toyota had illuminated their previously mysterious plans to start and grow a new performance line of cars derived from their existing line-up - similar to Renault and their RSes or, most recently, Hyundai with their ’N’-branded cars - called GR, and would kick off with a hotted-up supercharged Yaris.
Presumably, this will be followed up by various GRMN editions of cars like the next Camry, the C-HR, and 86 coupe Like other makes and their sportier offerings, these cars will naturally carry a price premium, and to appeal to a broader market, Toyota will also start offering these same cars in GR and GR Sport trim, revealing their roadmap for the future of their rumoured new sports division.
Toyota is kicking this off in their home market of Japan where they will now start selling a number of models with the sportier GR treatment applied. The ones most relevant to the Australian market are the Yaris (known there as the Vitz) and Prius, while the rest notably include the Mark X sedan and Harrier SUV. Crucially, GR and GR Sport models will not include the more comprehensive mechanical performance enhancements, which remain an exclusive draw of the full GRMN (Gazoo Racing Masters of the Nurburgring) version.
According to this initial announcement, only the Vitz will offered as a GR variant in the near term - adding improved suspension components and other handling-focused enhancements - while the rest will make due with the GR Sport trim, a more casual tier that mostly focuses on the cosmetic side of things with larger alloys, body kits, and a spruced up interior.
Additionally, Toyota will also be rolling out their GR Parts line of after market products, allowing buyers to add more visually appealing or factory-tuned and warranty-approved performance parts to their car in an a’la carte fashion. Exactly what will populate this catalogue isn’t known yet.
Even more GR Sport and GR models will be added to the line-up in 2018, gradually seeing availability expand beyond Japan, and we expect this to kick into a higher gear once the hot Yaris GRMN drops in the coming months - with its 153kW supercharged 1.8-litre powerplant, it’s sure to cause a surge in curiosity. Unfortunately, that car will be produced in very limited numbers (only 300 examples) and none have been allocated for an Australian arrival. Hopefully, future GRMN cars will not come with such a low production volume - this is Toyota after all.
Arguably the most interesting car to be revealed as part of this Toyota GR push is the 86 GR which features a host of suspension and chassis upgrades to further sharpen up the coupe. Highlights include a limited-slip differential, RAYS forged aluminium wheels, Sachs shock absorbers, and Recaro sport bucket seats.
As we’ve previously argued, Toyota is sitting on a rich history of motorsport (Le Mans, WRC, Formula 1) and even a substantial record of impressive driver’s cars. With the possible exclusion of the 86 as that was a collaboration with Subaru, that pedigree isn’t evident in their cars of late. It’s a shame given how much more of a passionate base of customers they would have if they’d choose to place a little more emphasis here. This seems like a start.