Toyota is pondering using its Gazoo Racing unit as a performance brand for future road cars, not unlike BMW’s M Division and Mercedes-AMG.
The timing couldn’t be better, as it was really starting to seem like Toyota was intentionally trying to make itself the least-exciting brand in the world. The Supra vanished in North America by 1998, the MR2 followed suit after 2005, the underwhelming seventh generation Celica came and went with no replacement, and Toyota Racing Development seemed unhealthily fixated on the off-roading capabilities of the Tacoma.
Thankfully, it looks like the company is finally coming to its senses.
Gazoo motorsport oversees Toyota’s World Endurance Championship program, World Rally Championship team, and Dakar Rally group. The company also has gotten involved with consumer products by way of the limited-production Gazoo Racing Masters of Nürburgring (GRMN) version of the GT86. The company is also responsible for the Toyota G’s lineup of semi-sportified passenger vehicles.
Speaking to Autocar, Gazoo Racing chief Koei Saga said he intends to expand into road cars, drawing a link between that side of the Toyota business and its racing activities.
“In Europe, the challenge is bigger because we have more competitors here, and it is also an issue of cost,” he said. “However, I am very much working on that so we can have a brand like the [BMW] M brand.”
Saga wouldn’t commit to questions about the upcoming Supra or Z5, suspicions on the company’s involvement remain. While the G’s vehicles tend to be modest, image-enhanced cars, GRMN limited editions included a lightened Mark X sedan, turbocharged 150 horsepower Vitz/Yaris, and the aforementioned track-enhanced GT86 coupe.
The rumor-mil has it that the first Gazoo model produced in any number, would be a spiced-up subcompact. Toyota’s top brass have hinted at a performance Yaris and Gazoo already has a World Rally Championship version in the works. Knowing what we know about the WRX, it would be silly not to see a turbocharged Yaris on sale someday — especially if the WRC car does well.