Toyota’s global boss Akio Toyoda has made a special visit to Australia this week, as the Japanese carmaker’s ten-week test program comes to an end.
Known for his ‘hands-on’ approach to development, Toyoda drove a specially-prepared Toyota 86 rally car; known to Toyota engineers as ‘GR86X’.
The rally-special 86 features a roll-cage, sequential gearbox and all-wheel-drive.
The 86’s performance was also boosted by a turbocharger - a feature some Toyota fans have been calling for on the road-going 86.
Four-time World Rally Champion Tommi Makinen had a hand in the GR86X’s development, despite winning all of his world titles at the wheel of a Mitsubishi.
Makinen is a personal friend of Mr Toyoda, and acted as co-driver while Toyoda was completing the rally special stage.
Following the Coffs Harbour drive, Mr Toyoda travelled to Melbourne where he again drove the GR86X in front of hundreds of local Toyota employees.
"This challenge helps me deeply with my car-making intuition," Mr Toyoda said.
"I believe that because we have passionate and committed people wanting to develop better cars, Toyota will be able to continuously develop cars that move and touch customers' hearts."
Aside from the continually-changing road surfaces, engineers were forced to change five tyres in one day and alter the route to avoid an approaching bushfire.
Data from the test will be used to improve future Toyota models in most of its markets around the world, as the carmaker believes Australia’s varying roads represent at least 80 percent of those its customers are likely to face.
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