Is Toyota Eyeing Mercedes-AMG With Its Own Performance Division?
Now this is a news we can all get behind!by Kirby Garlitos, on
Back in June 2016, Tetsuya Tada, the lead engineer behind the Toyota 86 sports car, was quoted by Car Advice, voicing his opinion about the possibility of Toyota creating its own performance division to rival that of Mercedes-AMG, as well as BMW’s M Division and Audi’s quattro GmbH. Fast forward five months and a new report, this time from Autocar, is saying that Gazoo Racing, the Japanese automaker’s racing division that houses both Toyota and Lexus Racing, is looking to gain entry, or “increase its presence,” in road car markets outside of Japan.
The new report quotes no less than Koei Saga, the top man of both Gazoo Racing and Toyota’s own powertrain division. Speaking with the British website, Saga made no qualms about his “intention” for Gazoo Racing to be more active in Toyota’s road car affairs, indicating that it’s about time that the Japanese automaker’s road car and racing activities develop a more comprehensive relationship than it has in the past.
Saga didn’t immediately confirm plans to turn Gazoo Racing into Toyota’s equivalent of Mercedes-AMG or BMW’s M Division, but he certainly didn’t mince his words regarding his intentions for the racing division, going so far as to say that he’s already “working on that so we can have a brand like [BMW’s] M brand.”
Turning Gazoo Racing into a performance car brand is huge deal, especially if it follows a similar template that its German rivals have done with their own performance divisions. The obvious takeaway here is that a Gazoo division would have to include a family of performance cars that could either include sporty versions of Toyota’s existing line or new models altogether, including the upcoming Supra sports coupe.
Obviously, there are still plenty of details to be hashed out from his major development, not the least of which is how Toyota plans to navigate around the business complexities of creating a performance division. There’s also the issue of timetable, something that’s going to be difficult to answer at this point considering that the Japanese automaker has yet to officially confirm – or deny – these plans.
Rest assured though, a Toyota performance division is a huge deal, and one that, quite frankly, is a long time in the making.
Continue after the jump to read the full story.
What are the implications of a Toyota performance brand?
I don’t think I’m the only person who has wanted more out of the Toyota 86. A lot of people have voiced similar sentiments out of frustration that the Japanese automaker has yet to give us an 86 variant that’s worthy of being called a legitimate sports car. Ironically, the closest Toyota got was with the GT86 GRMN that was tuned by, you guessed it, Gazoo Racing. That one not only had modest increases in power and torque – 216 horsepower and 160 pound-feet of torque, to be exact – but it also featured lighter panels, aerodynamic enhancements, and suspension improvements. The results not only gave the GT86 GRMN legitimate performance credentials, it was also limited to 100 units like a true limited edition sports car.
Now imagine if Gazoo Racing was given the responsibility of building more cars akin to the GT86 GRMN, and doing it in mass quantities. That’s what’s likely to happen if the Japanese automaker agrees to give Gazoo Racing the freedom and financial backing that Mercedes, BMW, and Audi have done with Mercedes-AMG, M Division, and quattro GmbH, respectively. Who knows, maybe we can even see a production version of the GT86 GRMN Sports FR Concept that was shown at the Goodwood Festival of Speed back in 2012. That one not only came with some Gazoo Racing components of its own, it also featured a turbocharged and supercharged version of the the 86’s 2.0-liter engine, resulting in an output of 315 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque.
To be fair, word that Toyota was considering its own performance division isn’t exactly a new item in the news. But rest assured, the excitement over the possibilities will only get bigger if this development picks up more weight down the road. Who knows, an announcement might come in time for the launch of the next-generation Toyota Supra in 2018. That would certainly be a good way to generate some buzz and anticipation for what’s going to lie ahead for Gazoo Racing if it does become Toyota’s road-car performance division.
Thinking about what this could mean for Toyota is already getting me excited. It’s about time we get, at the very least, a Toyota 86 variant that can be considered a bonafide sports car.