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Toyota launches Gazoo Racing Series in Japan

Super mini: The supercharged Toyota Vitz (Yaris) GRMN is due to launch in Japan by next year, however it will not be making its way into Australian showrooms.

Six JDM Toyota models get GR-fettled variants, Aus not on cards – yet

Toyota logo21 Sep 2017

By ROBBIE WALLIS

TOYOTA has launched a series of performance-tweaked models for the Japanese market, fettled by its newly-created Gazoo Racing (GR) division and available in different degrees of specification.

GR tuning consists of three different levels – the top-tier GRMN which includes engine enhancements, the GR and the entry-level GR Sport, which add performance parts and visual flair over their regular counterparts.

Six Japanese domestic market (JDM) models have been slated for GR tweaking, with more on the way later this year and into 2018.

Toyota Australia product public relations manager Steve Coughlan told GoAuto that while there are no plans to bring GR Down Under, it was not ruled out for the future.

“Whilst the GR Series launch in Japan this week is pertinent only to the Japanese domestic market at this time, we are watching on closely and will certainly be monitoring feedback regarding these models,” he said.

“Whilst there are no plans to offer any of the GR products here currently, it’s definitely a case of never say never.”

The six models include the Noah and Voxy people-movers, the Harrier SUV – the donor car for the Lexus RX – the Mark X luxury mid-size sedan, the Prius hybrid and the Vitz light hatch, sold in Australia as the Yaris.

At launch, the range will consist of GR and GR Sport models, with the Vitz to be the first model to receive the full GRMN treatment when it launches in the first half of 2018.

The Vitz will also be offered at launch with both GR and GR Sport levels of spec, while all other models will only come in base-level GR Sport trim.

Typical upgrades to GR-fettled models include specially tuned suspension, brace additions and visual enhancements including smaller diameter steering wheels and bodykit enhancements.

The Vitz GRMN was revealed in March at the Geneva motor show, boasting a supercharged version of its 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine that produces 154kW/250Nm – enough to scare the likes of the Volkswagen Polo GTI, Ford Fiesta ST and Renault Clio RS.

Only Japan, Germany and France are confirmed markets for production of the Vitz GRMN, with Australia ruled out at the reveal.

Additional GR-spec models are slated for launch in Japan later this year, including a version of the 86 sportscar which gains front, side and rear aero parts, Sachs shock absorbers, Recaro seats, Rays forged aluminium wheels, a Torsen type limited-slip differential, small diameter steering wheel, single-exit tailpipe, and six-pot front, four-pot rear brakes.

Mr Coughlan said Toyota Australia is conscious of the kind of success a performance-honed 86 would have Down Under.

“We are acutely aware of the appetite for performance-oriented products here in Australia, and the success of the 86 has shown that such vehicles certainly enamour a younger buyer to the Toyota brand,” he said.

The Prius C light hatch and Prius V people-mover also have GR treatments in the pipeline, with tweaked suspension, aluminium pedals, brace addition, a leather-wrapped shift knob, and the addition of a tachometer.

Also available in the Japanese market is the GR Parts aftermarket division, where Toyota owners can specify particular GR parts for some of their vehicle.

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