EVO: Toyota will produce three-strong sports car lineup
March 9, 2017
Toyota will produce three-strong sports car lineup
'Three Brothers' core range consists of GT86, plus new Supra and lightweight MR2 successor
Toyota is set once again to be a major player in the performance car market. Echoing its line-up of 20 years ago, the heart of its sporting range will be 'The Three Brothers', according to legendary Toyota engineer, and Gazoo Racing chief, Tetsuya Tada.
That means a new Supra, the GT86 taking the place once held by successive generations of Celica, and a spiritual successor to the MR2 in the form of a lightweight sports car. Tada-San expressed Toyota’s desire to have the trio in production together 'As soon as possible'. With other performance "specials" like the new Yaris GRNM hot hatch, Toyota’s driver-focused offering should soon be unrecognisable from the barren period of recent years.
The confirmation of a compact, MR2-sized car is fantastic news for driving enthusiasts, and should at last mean some competition for the Mazda MX-5 in the segment. It isn't clear exactly what form this car will take, though it could be similar to the Toyota S-FR concept revealed at the 2015 Tokyo motor show.
That car, which featured subtle nods to the styling of the classic Toyota Sports 800 in a platform almost identically-sized to the current MX-5, took the form of a four-seater, front-engined and rear-drive coupe. Toyota subsequently showed the car in track-ready form as the S-FR Racing Concept. What was notable about both, particularly the brightly-coloured road-going model, was their production-ready feel - far closer than the concepts that originally previewed the GT86.
Given he was "Mr GT86", it’s no surprise that Tada-San is trying to make the entry-level sports car as simple and light as possible. However, to meet forthcoming emissions regulations Toyota is working on incorporating the hybrid tech from its LMP1 racers into the car, which means an MR2-style mid-engined layout could still apply, as battery storage in the overall package is easier. While the car may not be a hybrid from the start, Tada-San says Toyota is 'Working very hard' to make the hybrid sports car a reality.
Expect the GT86 lineage to continue, although updates will be minor. Toyota built a very limited-run GRNM version of the car for Japan last year with stickier tyres co-developed with Bridgestone, but there’s no word on whether Europe will get anything more potent.
One big reason the GT86 isn’t gaining lots more power is the incoming Supra, a car that make’s Tada-San’s face light up at the very mention of its name. Telling evo 'The car should be lighter than its rivals', Tada-San’s admiration for the Porsche Cayman over the larger, heavier 911 gives a hint to the new car’s size and character. The new car is being co-developed with BMW; the German manufacturer's Z4-replacing Z5 will be on the same platform.
Gazoo Racing is also considering building R5, R3 and R2 versions of the Yaris for private entrants in rallying, particularly after the strong start to Toyota’s WRC campaign this season.
Hoping it's the SFR! Mega excited!
If they announced that it was the S-FR I would be going down to the dealership at the earliest possible time to put some money down. We can only hope.