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Toyota 86 GR Sport announced, Australian debut under study

By Tony O'Kane, 04 Jul 2018 News

Toyota 86 GR Sport announced, Australian debut under study

Toyota has applied the GR Sport formula to its venerable sports car, but it’s strictly for Japan – for now.

FORGET about TRD. It’s still around, clinging on primarily in the USA, but the Toyota Racing Development badge is being squeezed out by a new entity – Gazoo Racing.

As Toyota’s newly-minted performance sub-brand, Toyota hopes Gazoo will, with time, become as synonymous with performance cars as Renault Sport and Mercedes-Benz’s AMG.

So far, Gazoo’s reach in showrooms has been limited. Besides a limited-edition supercharged Yaris GRMN (that stands for ‘Gazoo Racing Meister of Nurburgring’), the rest of the Gazoo-fettled line-up exists only within Japan – and besides a GRMN version of the 236kW rear-drive Mark X sedan, they’re all fairly tame.

2018 Geneva Motor Show: Toyota GR Supra Racing Concept previews next-gen hero coupe

Enter the 86 GR Sport. Announced this week, the 86 GR Sport is another Japan-only model, but it demonstrates how the Gazoo formula can be about more than just bodykits and wheels, while still being very much on the street-friendly side of the performance spectrum.

First, an explainer. “GR Sport” is pitched as the lowest rung in the Gazoo performance ladder. Above it lies “GR”, while the “GRMN” suffix is only applied to the highest-performing models in the range, and only those with extensive mechanical upgrades. There’s already an 86 GR in Japan, and this new 86 GR Sport sits beneath it.

In Japanese specification, the 86 GR Sport nets you Sachs dampers, four-piston Brembo brakes, 17-inch alloys and grippier Michelin tyres. Sound familiar? That’s because the same gear is already available in Australia in the form of the optional 86 Performance Kit – a $2900 option on the base 86 GT, and a $2200 option on the flagship 86 GTS.

The Japanese 86 GR Sport goes slightly further though, with aesthetic upgrades in the form of unique side skirts, a boot-lip spoiler, some discreet GR badging, a GR-branded instrument panel with unique white-faced tachometer, GR-badged steering wheel and a rear suspension brace. In Japan, it retails for 3,780,000 yen, or roughly AU$46,200.

Read next: Toyota drops GR Super Sport Concept, a race car for the road

So what does the step up to mid-grade “GR” trim get you instead? In the case of the 86 GR, a fair amount. The Sachs dampers remain, but are paired with new springs with revised spring rates and a 10mm lower ride height, while the four-piston Brembos are swapped out in favour of six-piston front calipers (four-piston at the rear) with two-piece front rotors.

The rear suspension brace gets paired with a steering rack brace up front, the tyres get upgraded further to Michelin Pilot Sport 4s in staggered sizing, a ground-scraping front lip is added to the standard bumper and a unique rear bumper integrates a diffuser with an exclusive centre-exit exhaust.

Inside, the 86 GR flaunts a pair of body-hugging Recaro front seats, similar to those found in the Nissan 370Z Nismo. Power remains the same, but the rest of the package is far more track-focused than the 86 GR Sport through the addition of more grip and stopping power. The premium is steep, however, with the 86 GR costing 4,968,000 yen – or a whopping AU$60,800.

But the Gazoo strategy doesn’t stop with turnkey models. In Japan, Toyota’s performance subsidiary will also sell dealer-fit optional parts to 86 owners who like the look of the GR Sport’s spoiler, wheels or big brakes, but doesn’t want to go whole-hog with a dedicated Gazoo model. Among the options is a specialised audio headunit that brings data-logging capability for true track-day junkies, and sports some of the techno-geek appeal of the Nissan GT-R’s slick data-driven infotainment system.

Gazoo Racing in Australia?

It’s not here yet, but Gazoo-enhanced Toyotas are definitely on the radar for Australia. Exactly when the performance sub-brand will arrive, and which models will sport the Gazoo touch, is yet to be nutted out. That said, likely candidates include the 86 – given the already-extensive ‘menu’ of Gazoo parts for it and existing two-tier Gazoo offering it now enjoys in Japan – the imminent Corolla and, of course, the eventual GR Sport/GR/GRMN variants of the next-generation Toyota Supra.

Speaking to Wheels, a Toyota spokesperson confirmed an Australian debut for Gazoo products was on the company’s wishlist.

“At the moment it’s a Japan-only thing,” said Toyota Australia senior PR Orlando Rodriguez.

Read next: 2018 Toyota Supra could launch Gazoo performance sub-brand

“It’s something that’s on our radar. We’re looking and studying how we can get GR products into our country, but at the moment there are no announcements.”

“But we’re obviously keenly excited to see how it goes in Japan. It’s the first market to build the GR sub-brand.

“We’re looking at both the [Gazoo] formula, and we’re looking at individual cars. They would come on a case-by-case basis essentially – as more and more models become available and once we get to the stage of launching the performance sub-brand here we’d definitely look into them.

“There’s nothing locked in at this stage, but we’re definitely keen to make something happen.”