One of the coolest benefits Toyota offers its Japanese customers that we don’t get here is its Kinto Factory — a department that specializes in feature upgrades and refurbishing of existing vehicles. Thanks to the Kinto Factory, Toyota owners can add things like active safety features and other goodies that may not have existed for their car at the time it rolled off the production line.
The semi-new GR Yaris has just been added to the Kinto lineup, and through it, Toyota is distributing a software update previously only available to those who purchased — or subscribed — to the Morizo Selection version of the hot hatch. This update improves the Yaris’ peak torque from 272 lb-ft in the original car to 287 lb-ft. That’s a healthy increase, especially considering how small and light the little homologation special is.
Toyota also says that those who purchase the upgrade will also gain the ability to change other electronically-controlled performance parameters for the optimal driving feel. There are supposedly 27 combinations of steering assistance, accelerator response and all-wheel-drive torque distribution available with this software. For a $110 fee, Toyota’s GR Garage engineers will even make setting recommendations for you, based on collected driving data.
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The Kinto Factory is a great idea, particularly in the context of the current automotive market. Cars are becoming harder to find and more expensive, prompting everyone to hold onto their vehicles for as long as they can. Offering welcome, quality-of-life upgrades over the course of a car’s lifespan may not be the shrewd capitalist strategy if you’re determined to sell as many vehicles as possible. But if you actually want your customers to be happy and the world to be less wasteful, this is the way to do it.
Alas, no such service exists for Toyota customers in North America. When the Kinto Factory was announced, there was some suggestion Toyota might monitor the reception and see how the experiment might be applied to other regions. I really hope the automaker recognizes a good idea when it’s come up with one; how great would it be for the company to offer some GR Corolla Morizo Edition perks to those who have the standard model? To that end we’ve reached out to Toyota Motor North America for comment, and if GR Corolla buyers in the West could one day expect similar after-purchase care.