Toyota’s Getting Serious About Launching A Family Of Sports Cars
A major announcement pertaining to this new family of sports cars is expected to happen in Septemberby Kirby Garlitos, on
It’s not a rarity in today’s automotive landscape to see automakers shift their long-standing ideologies. Chinese automakers have stepped out of the shadow of mediocrity and become players in the business. Meanwhile, premium brands like Lamborghini, Bentley, and Rolls-Royce have jumped into the SUV craze. From what it looks like now, Toyota is also gearing up for some big changes with those “changes” coming in the form of a new family of sports cars.
Now, this isn’t exactly groundbreaking news since Toyota’s wide-range of automotive offerings already includes a few sports cars. Arguably the most famous of them is the GT86, the 200-horsepower, entry-level stalwart that has spearheaded the Japanese automaker’s performance car offerings. Outside of the GT86, there’s the Yaris GRMN, a limited-run hot hatch that was first introduced at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show. Then there’s the upcoming Toyota Supra, a reborn version of one of Toyota’s most iconic performance car nameplates. Once the Supra is released in 2019 as it’s been reported, the automaker’s sports car lineup will be three models strong. Don’t think Toyota will settle for just these three models though. It still has some old sports car nameplates to dust-off, not to mention recent concepts that could still be used at some point in the future. The good news is that we won’t have to wait too long to know about Toyota’s sports car plans as an announcement is expected to happen sometime in September. For now, all we can do is speculate on what other models could find their way into the brand’s sports car lineup.
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What can we expect from Toyota?
At this point, it’s hard to make assumptions on Toyota and its plans because the company has been known to waffle around from time to time. That being said, we can at least expect three sports cars to make up this lineup in the short-term. The GT86 and the Yaris GRMN are already here, and the Supra is about to follow soon. The question now is whether Toyota has a few more sports cars up its sleeve to round out its plan to launch a family of performance cars. We do have a few inklings of what Toyota could do, though not exactly what it will do. See, the company has a history of developing sports cars in the past, and if it really wants to bring some nostalgia back, it won’t just stop with the Supra. It’s going to continue by dusting off two other names that we’re all familiar with.
While the MR2 may not have the same all-encompassing popularity as the Supra, it does have a cult following of its own, thanks in large part to a 23-year run that lasted from 1984 to 2007. It’s been a decade since we last saw the MR2, but there is some speculation going on that Toyota isn’t entirely done with the nameplate just yet. In fact, no less than Gazoo Racing head Tetsuya Tada was quoted by Evo at the Geneva Motor Show back in March hinting at the return of Toyota’s “Three Brothers.” Tada added that he hopes to see it happen as soon as possible, presumably because it’s been a while since any of the three sports cars have been around, healthy, and raring to go.
The return of the MR2 would certainly set the wheels in motion for Toyota’s planned sports car lineup
The return of the MR2 would certainly set the wheels in motion for Toyota’s planned sports car lineup, though details are still unclear on how Toyota plans to develop it. Who knows really if it’s even on the table to begin with, but if Toyota really is serious about reinventing its sports car family and making it a force to be reckoned with it like it once was, bringing back the MR2 would be a solid step toward doing that. Heck, don’t just stop with the MR2. With the Supra already on the horizon, might as well get the whole band back together, which brings us to…
Note: photo/rendering of the Toyota MR2
The third member of Toyota’s “Three Brothers” was last seen in 2006, a year before the MR2 was killed off. If anything, the Celica may very well be the most popular of the three sports cars though it certainly is the longest one to run, having existed from 1970 all the way up to 2006. The thing with the Celica, though, is that if it does return, it could be as the successor of the GT86, the same model that turned out to be the successor of the last Celica. The return of the iconic sports car nameplate would certainly be a case of its heritage coming full circle.
Toyota could bring the Celica back independent of what it does to the GT86’s eventual successor
There is that other possibility that Toyota could bring the Celica back independent of what it does to the GT86’s eventual successor. That would be a good option to consider given that the GT86, for as long as it’s lasted, hasn’t really set the world on fire like many of us thought it would. Instead, it’s been hailed more for being a mainstream sports car that does multiple things well without being an expert in any of them. Whatever happens here, one thing I’m pretty confident in is that at some point in the future - I don’t know the when or where - Toyota’s three most famous sports cars will once again grace the road.
Note: photo/rendering of the Toyota Celica.
Do we put stock on the Toyota S-FR Concepts?
For those who aren’t familiar, Toyota unveiled two concept cars in 2015 and 2016, respectively. Those concepts were called “S-FR,” though the latter was more formally known as the “S-FR Racing Concept.” We’ve heard very little of the two concepts since, but it’s worth pointing out that Toyota does own the trademark to the “S-FR” name. The 2015 concept, in particular, could be used as inspiration for the Celica, provided that Toyota decides to do these things. The credentials of the S-FR Concept called for it to be a possible competitor to the Mazda MX-5 Miata, a space currently held by the GT86, which also happens to be the model that’s been rumored to be replaced with the Celica. Again, all of this is conjecture at this point, so it’s hard to put any serious stock in it. Then again, where there’s smoke, there’s fire, right?
What’s Gazoo Racing’s involvement here?
Again, it’s unclear until Toyota makes an announcement. We do know from previous reports that Gazoo Racing has been given more independence by Toyota to move beyond its original objectives of focusing on racing development to serving a role in developing Toyota’s performance cars. We saw this previously with the Yaris GRMN which, in hindsight, could actually have been a sign of things to come. We’re going to learn more about what Gazoo Racing’s role is moving forward, so I suspect that we should all have a little bit of latitude as far as our expectations are concerned, including the possibility that this sports car series that Toyota is expected to announce will be limited to the Japanese market for the time being.
Read our full review on the Toyota Yaris GRMN.
Read our full review on the 2020 Toyota MR2.
Read our full review on the Toyota Celica
Read our full review on the Toyota S-FR Concept.
Read our full review on the Toyota SF-R Racing Concept.
Source: Automotive News