Toyota has announced that it will launch the GR Sport Series sub-brand in Japan to bolster its lineup of sporty cars. The debut of the GR Series follows that of the Yaris GRMN in Europe earlier this year at the 2017 Geneva Auto Show. In addition to the Japanese market, Toyota plans to expand the GR Series of vehicles outside of its home market with Europe being a likely candidate.
There will be three levels of performance in Toyota’s GR Series lineup. The GR Sport is the entry-level model, followed by the mid-tier GR, and then the range-topping GRMN. Toyota will leverage knowledge and data gained from racing its vehicles at events like the 24 Hours of Nurburgring and the All-Japan Rally Championship. In the beginning, Toyota will roll out a GR variant of the Japanese market Vitz (Yaris in the U.S.), and 86 while the Prius Prime, Harrier, Mark X, and Noah will be available in GR Sport guise. GR stands for Gazoo Racing, Toyota’s racing arm in Japan.
At the top of the range will be the Vitz GRMN, essentially the Japanese-spec version of the Yaris GRMN. It will feature the same 1.8-liter supercharged I-4, limited-slip differential, sport seats, Sachs shock absorbers, and BBS alloy wheels. The Toyota 86 GR will receive a unique aero kit, Sachs shock absorbers, Recaro sport seats, Rays alloy wheels, more powerful brakes, and a single exhaust tip.
Key changes to GR Series vehicles include a new grille, GR-branded sport seats, silver accent stitching, and a unique engine start/stop button. The base GR Sport models add a sportier suspension tune, additional bracing, a unique tachometer, black shifter, aluminum pedals, and a smaller steering wheel. GR models get an even more aggressive suspension tune with Sachs shocks, additional spot welding and bracing, a smaller steering wheel, and a manual shift mode in CVT models that mimics a 10-speed automatic.
Along with the GR Series launch, Toyota will also launch the GR Garage shop as a place for auto enthusiasts to gather. They will replace the Area 86 shops in Japan, totaling 39 GR Garage locations.