Toyota is set to make a return to the performance car market with a series of more enthusiast-oriented models.
While it may not be a household name here, Gazoo Racing operates as Toyota’s all-encompassing sports car and motorsport brand globally.
The motorsport division currently competes in the World Rally Championship and World Endurance Championships, as well as production car racing at tracks such as the Nurburgring.
European customers have also had the opportunity to buy limited-production Gazoo Racing developed hatches, based on regular Toyota production models with performance and handling improvements.
Speaking to Australian media at the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show, Toyota Australia's incoming Vice President of Sales and Operations, Sean Hanley, indicated the brand will play a role in the company's local future, starting with the WRC team's arrival at next month's championship-ending Rally Australia in Coffs Harbour.
Further to that, he indicated Toyota is actively looking at introducing any future GR branded road cars to Australian showrooms.
"Gazoo Racing is a really important part of our business globally. I can’t confirm any future products at this stage, but if we had product like that available to us it would be something we are deeply interested in," he said.
"We’re looking at developments in that space."
Gazoo Racing’s current road car range includes a supercharged version of the Yaris light hatch for Europe to showcase its comeback to the WRC in 2017. Other efforts include a hard core 86, a turbocharged version of the previous Yaris and two souped-up versions of the baby IQ commuter car.
The 2017 Yaris GRMN, as it is known, features a 1.8-litre supercharged four cylinder that produces 150kW of power, nearly twice the output of the 1.5-litre naturally-aspirated engine in the regular Yaris. Other enhancements include a Torsen limited slip front differential, race-tuned suspension, upsized wheel and brake package, and sporty exterior and interior modifications.
The car is presently only available in Europe, but Toyota is said to be keen on building a wider range of GR-badged vehicles in the future, based on the the success of the 86 coupe and our local appetite for performance cars.
"I think in the future these are things we will have to examine more closely. Gazoo Racing potentially provides us with that opportunity in the future.
"As part of the future, GR provides us with opportunities to fill some of those gaps.
"If we can add a couple of sports cars in the future, with powertrains that suit the future, then we will have a great lineup of cars."
Hanley also didn't rule out using the brand across Toyota's local motorsport activities in the future, potentially with Harry Bates in the Australian Rally Championship or its one-make 86 Race Series.
He did however distance the brand from taking an active role in the Supercars series beyond the 86 support series in the near future, although left the door open to reviewing that decision further into the future.
"No, not at this stage. We have the 86 Race Series running at the moment, and that’s what we’re committed to at this stage," he said.
"Who knows what opportunities [Gazoo Racing] may present to us in the future though."
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