Toyota has had a pretty wild and successful history and in 2013 the company fell just $20,000 shy of crossing the annual sales threshold of more than $10 million. The company is still doing well as of the time of this writing, but it did just recently absorb the Scion brand due to poor sales. Toyota has always been one of the go-to brands for economy cars like the Corolla and the Camry, so the Scion brand didn’t stand much of a chance, but what happened to the days when Toyota had a few exciting cars too? Well, those days might be coming back if Toyota’s lead engineer for the Toyota 86 – Tetsuya Tada – has anything to say about it.
In a recent interview with Tada admitted that he was on a mission to convince Toyota to create a performance division. I know you’re probably thinking “what about TRD?” right? Well TRD is so invested in trucks at the moment that Toyota needs something else. If you don’t believe me, just look at how little TRD did to the 2015 Toyota TRD Corolla, the 2015 Toyota TRD Camry, and the 2016 Toyota Yaris TRD Sportivo – all three were about as disappointing as finding out that your wife is cheating on you. The future may hold something better, though, as Tada wants to absorb Gazoo Racing just like BMW did with M Performance and Audi did with Quattro GmbH.
In the interview with Tada said, “BMW has its M Division, Mercedes-Benz has Mercedes-AMG, Audi has Quattro GmbH, so they have a stance of a sports car, but Toyota hasn’t. So I would like to build that major sports car brand within Toyota, like BMW ’s M. He continued, “BMW and M and Audi and Quattro GmbH used to be like the Toyota relationship with Gazoo—it wasn’t really one body, it was two separate things, but because of the time and the continuous effort, now they are together. So, I’m wishing that Toyota puts effort continuously, and then someday later, Toyota and Gazoo will be one body.”
How can you argue with logic like that? Toyota has become a dull company that provides your everyday family movers, but nothing exciting to brag about. Here’s to hoping that Tada gets his way sooner than later and Toyota either creates a new performance division or absorbs Gazoo.
Why it matters
What happened to cars like the Toyota Supra and the Toyota MR2? I’ve never been a big fan of Toyotas, as I’ve always had a Honda close by, but cars like the Supra and the MR2 made Toyota a likeable company. Back in 1993, you could get a brand new Toyota Supra Turbo with 320 horsepower and 315 pound-feet of torque for just a hair under $40,000. The car was capable of hitting 60 mph in 4.6 seconds and top speeds in excess of 155 mph, if the speed limiter was disabled. And, let’s not forget that the car was a tuners dream at the time. The closest you can get now, without stepping up to a Lexus , is the 2017 Toyota 86, and that thing is incredibly underpowered with just 205 horsepower. Imagine how good the Toyota 86 could be if Toyota had an in-house performance division that cared about its car lineup? A 400-horsepower Toyota 86? Totally doable with the right performance division.
So with that said, let’s look to the future and hope Tada is right. I would love to see current-day examples of cars like the Supra and the MR2 – especially if Gazoo Racing, who created the Lexus LF A, have their hand in making the car as performance oriented as possible. We’ve already seen the 2014 FT-1 concept, which was rumored to be the Supra’s replacement, so where is it at Toyota ? Where is your performance division? Why is TRD focused on everything but your car lineup? There are those of us waiting for you fix your boring lineup and bring out something with some real performance capabilities. Acura managed to bring back the NSX, so there is no reason you can’t bring back the Supra.