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Toyota embraces racing roots with new GR sub-brand

Sven Gustafson

Toyota said Tuesday it is launching a new GR sports car series sub-brand in Japan that it plans to eventually expand beyond that country.

The GR series is named for Gazoo Racing, a company within Toyota, and is based on three tiers of performance. The top of the line is GRMN, short for Gazoo Racing Masters of Nürburgring, which features a tuned engine. The mid-range is the GR, which gets full aero parts, Recaro seats and Sachs shocks, while the entry-level GR Sport is also available in minivans and offers features like special tuned suspension, aluminum pedals and other features, depending on the model. The brand will also offer aftermarket GR Parts.

"What constitutes the heart of the Gazoo brand is a desire for challenges to make innovations by breaking through barriers existing inside Toyota and set by Toyota," Gazoo Racing President Shigeki Tomoyama was quoted as saying by the Japan Times at its Mega Web showroom in Tokyo. He added that the company also plans to sell GR-branded cars in the European Union.

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Initial plans call for making GR and GR Sport versions of the Vitz, and GR Sport versions of the Prius plug-in hybrid, Harrier, Mark X, Voxy and Noah in Japan. The Vitz GRMN, which has a 1.8-liter supercharged engine, is planned for a spring 2018 release, while the 86 GR, Aqua GR Sport and Prius GR Sport models will hit the market this winter.

As part of its rollout, Toyota will close all of its Area 86 shops across Japan and reopen them under the GR Garage brand, guided by the concept of "the most exciting car shop in town."

Toyota says it plans to gradually the GR series outside of Japan, starting with the supercharged four-cylinder, 210 horsepower Yaris GRMN it revealed in March in Europe.

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