The Tokyo Auto Salon is fundamentally about aftermarket performance tuning and automotive styling culture, but it’s also an event where Japanese manufacturers like to tease us with special edition models. This year, however, Toyota took things to a whole new level with its Gazoo Racing (GR) brand, and that’s why I want to start my main TAS 2018 coverage with the GR Super Sport Concept.
If this concept car actually materializes into a limited run production machine, it will not only achieve a true first in the global automotive world – that being a Japanese manufacturer stepping into the hypercar market – but emphasize that Japan is really back in game.
I’ve gone on and on over the years at how Japan seems to have lost its mojo when it comes to creating fun and exciting cars, but Gazoo Racing’s Super Sport Concept is a loud and clear message that Toyota isn’t playing around.
It’s not just a design exercise either; behind the mock-up on display at the Makuhari Messe over the weekend was a running, prototype chassis. All of this follows the “racing improves the breed” statement that Toyota wants to ensure it follows through with from now on.
So let’s take a look at a few details of the development car, starting with the 18×13-inch center-lock forged BBS wheels wrapped in 330/710R18 Bridgestone Potenza slicks. Carbon-ceramic Akebono brakes feature at all four corners.
The Super Sport Concept takes heavy inspiration from the LMP1 TS050 Toyota has been campaigning in the WEC series, and the cockpit is very much in line with what you’d expect to find in a state-of-the-art race car. The tub and pretty much every main component of the chassis is constructed from carbon fiber.
Most of the car’s nitty gritty details aren’t being given out, but I was told by one of the Gazoo Racing engineers present on the booth that the goal is to bring the tech and feel of a race car to the street. If that’s true, we can probably expect the design of the final car to not stray too far from what we see here.
That said, a further look at the underpinnings makes you wonder how all of this can really be adapted into a reliable road car package. Essentially, it’s pure race car, starting off with the ancillaries that hang off the compact 2.4L V6 set low in the center of the chassis. I was drooling over the way the intercoolers, oil coolers and radiators are positioned along the sides to make full use of airflow collected from under the car. In the body mock-up there doesn’t seem to be anywhere for the hot air to escape, but it is possible that further ducting channels it out through the rear of the car.
The turbos are beautifully laid out, fed by handmade headers which in turn plumb the external wastegates into the system.
Some really accurate boost contol is obviously going on here, and let’s not forget there is also a hybrid electrical system that makes up part of the driveline. No information is being divulged on how it all works, but Toyota has said that it will generate almost 1,000hp combined.
From the back you can see how the exhausts snake their way to the rear of the car, while on the body itself there is a chimney-type exhaust outlet hinting at where the Gazoo Racing engineers will try to direct it.
The rear 4-way dampers control suspension movement through a hinged push-rod layout with the other end mounted directly onto the carbon fiber tub.
It’s great to see Toyota attempting something like this, but at the same time you do have to wonder why it chose the Tokyo Auto Salon to unveil this project to the world.
Wouldn’t the Detroit Auto Show that’s going on now be a better setting? Or maybe even Geneva in March?
Regardless, you just can’t help but pray that this concept will become a production reality.
It is possible that the new-gen Supra will be the first new Toyota to bridge race and street tech for us enthusiasts, and there are rumors hinting that in Japan the car will be sold under the Gazoo Racing banner, or maybe that the GR brand will mark a special version of the Supra. What we can be happy about is that there is promise of exciting things happening within Toyota, hopefully pushing other Japanese manufacturers to take notice and follow suit.
It’s wishful thinking perhaps, but could the 2020s be a call back to the 1990s?
Dino Dalle Carbonare