Move over, Supra, a new hero sports car is coming to Toyota’s showrooms – and it’s targeting the biggest names in performance, including Porsche, Ferrari and Aston Martin.
The Toyota GR GT3 Concept, unveiled at the recent Tokyo Auto Salon, is, as the name implies, a concept… but only for now. While its striking appearance captured the attention of early reports, it doesn’t take much digging to see what this really is and why it’s such a big deal for Toyota and its Gazoo Racing brand.
Although Toyota was vague on the details, the GR GT3 Concept is clearly not just any Supra with a body kit on it, with strikingly different proportions and unique styling. This suggests that Toyota is preparing an all-new sports car that will supersede the GR Supra to take on the biggest names in the business.
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Toyota even hinted as such in the car’s official release, linking the GR Yaris project, where the company created a specific three-door wide-body model for its World Rally Championship program.
“As was the case with the GR Yaris, TGR plans to use feedback and technologies refined through participation in various motorsport activities through the commercialization of motorsport cars rather than simply adapting production vehicles for use in motorsports.” said Toyota. Continue to promote GT3 and mass production cars and the making of increasingly better motorsport-bred cars.”
For those unfamiliar, GT3 is not just the name of a Porsche 911 model, but a category of international auto racing that focuses on sports cars such as the 911, Ferrari 488, Mercedes-AMG GT, Audi R8, and Honda NSX. It is the category used for the top class of the annual Bathurst 12-hour race, but from 2024 it will become the standard global ‘GT’ race, including the famous Le Mans 24-hour race.
Crucially, the category is based on production vehicles, not concepts or prototypes, so if Toyota wants to compete, it will have to offer a street version of its GT3 racer to the public.
This is why Toyota should build a new sports car and not compete in a custom race car like the GR GT3. What is unclear at this stage is whether Toyota would look for a partner for such a project, as it has done for the GR Supra and GR 86, or whether it would just be about the strength of the Gazoo Racing business. to demonstrate further.
Building up Gazoo Racing has been a big project for Toyota for the past decade. That’s largely because Gazoo Racing is the personal project of Akio Toyoda, Toyota’s global president. He believes in racing to improve both the brand’s image and the handling of his cars.
Under his leadership, Gazoo Racing has replaced Toyota Racing Development (TRD) as the company’s global performance division, overseeing all motorsport activities for Toyota and Lexus.
The brand has also expanded its production line with the introduction of the GR Supra and GR Yaris, with the GR 86 coming later in 2022. But this is expected to be just the start with a GR Corolla, GR HiLux and even a revived MR2 (with electric power) all tipped to arrive in years to come.
Toyota should introduce a production version of the GR GT3 Concept by 2024 in order to race at blue riband events such as Le Mans and Bathurst. Based on the concept, it seems likely that it will be a front-engine, rear-wheel-drive GT coupe, possibly powered by a V8 turbo engine that the company has been rumored to have been working on for the past few years.
Something like that would certainly suit a potential rival to the 911, AMG GT, Aston Martin Vantage and the like. And if it could compete with those kinds of cars, even if it didn’t surpass them, but simply be a potential rival, that would be a big boost to the image of Toyota and Gazoo Racing.
And if you think a Toyota sports car rivaling Porsche (which probably costs more than $150k) sounds far-fetched, what would you have said five years ago if someone had told you Toyota was selling a $50k Yaris…