Toyota’s recent midlife crisis kick looks to be going swimmingly. After focusing on reliable, practical cars for so long, the company has been trying to inject life back into its lineup with cars like the Corolla Hatch, GR86, Supra, and never-to-be-seen-on-American-shores GR Yaris — and it’s working. Toyota now makes some of the most interesting sports cars on the market, but the company doesn’t seem interested in stopping there. For its next trick, it wants to slap license plates on GT3 racers.
Tokyo Auto Salon is currently underway in Japan, and Toyota is taking the opportunity to show off some new, fun models. There’s an even hotter GR Yaris, with the totally-not-confusing GRMN Yaris name, and a full display of off-road offerings from Lexus. There’s also a bZ4X on bigger wheels, if that’s your thing.
The headliner of Toyota’s Tokyo Auto Salon display, however, is the GR GT3 Concept: A long, low, two-door racer that would look right at home battling for position against the Mercedes-AMG GT3. The enormous front splitter, center-lock wheels, and roof-height rear wing are all meant to show that this is a race car first — not something you’ll see in line at your local drive-thru.
But while the GR GT3 is a race car first, it may not be one exclusively. It seems Toyota wants to first build the track toy, but later adapt it into something for road use. From Toyota:
As was the case with the GR Yaris, by commercializing motorsports cars rather than simply adapting production vehicles for use in motorsports, TGR intends to use feedback and technologies refined through participation in various motorsports activities to develop both GT3 and mass-production cars and further promote making ever-better motorsports-bred cars.
The GR Yaris famously shares nearly no parts with its base-model counterpart, so it really is a motorsport-first chassis. If Toyota pulled the same trick with the GR GT3 concept, what might that production vehicle look like? Well, given the LFA-styled rear end, it’s entirely possible the car would hit Lexus dealers rather than Toyota.
If that were the case, it could mean a Mercedes SL competitor from Lexus. The proportions seem about right, and putting a long-nosed grand tourer on the same platform as a GT3 racer wouldn’t be that different from Mercedes’ platform-sharing approach — just in reverse. True, the lack of a Predator grille could point to this eventual street car wearing a T badge rather than an L, but it seems only time will tell for sure. Either way, Toyota bringing a GT3 car to the street would cement the brand’s place as a true performance powerhouse — and maybe, in the process, admit that the kids were right all along.