Toyota leader eyes sports sector
Search Driven for Toyota for sale
LEAD ENGINEER FORECASTS DEDICATED HIGH-PERFORMANCE BRAND AS PART OF GOAL SETTING
The lead engineer behind the Toyota 86, Tetsuya Tada, has revealed a goal to create a performance brand rival to challenge Audi’s quattro GmbH, BMW’s M and Mercedes-Benz’s Mercedes-AMG divisions, while personally dreaming of not only a Toyota Supra successor but also a new version of the iconic Celica GT-Four.
Speaking to CarAdvice while in Australia for that country’s third Festival of 86 event, Tada-san said he is adamant that Toyota needs a dedicated high-performance brand in its future and that the goal is not one he will easily give up on.
“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,” Tada-san said.
“So I would like to build that major sports car brand within Toyota, like BMW’s M.”
Although Toyota’s own TRD (Toyota Racing Development) tuning arm can trace its association with the marque back to the early 1950s, the influential executive says a further developed and enhanced relationship with Gazoo Racing — the racing and engineering team behind competition assaults by both the Toyota 86 and Lexus LFA on the 24 Hours Nurburgring — has potential.
“That’s one candidate,” Tada-san said.
“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.
“The important thing is to keep putting in the effort and continue — never give up.”
Another area Tada-san is making every effort to invoke change within Toyota is in encouraging the marque to produce higher-quality and higher-performing cars, but also cars with more passion behind them.
The Toyota FT1 concept. Pictures / Supplied
With past Japanese rivals to the Toyota Supra, the Nissan GT-R and Honda NSX, both garnering high levels of interest for their respective brands, Tada-san is well aware of the unfulfilled ‘opportunity’ attached to a high-performance flagship Toyota hero car.
“Ah, new Supra ... ,” Tada-san, well-known as an enthusiast, says while nodding. “It’s waiting for you in Japan,” he jokes.
“We’re putting all the effort into making it happen.
“There is so much gossip about it may be happening or it may be produced, but amongst Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC), much of the things people think, have already been tried.
“But trying [‘things’] and trying to reach production, are two different things. So, of the ideas from our team, maybe one tenth is the production car.”
Despite the positive notions (and spy shots of the BMW Z4 successor — reported to share its platform with the next-generation Supra), Tada-san refrained from giving any idea of timeframe of when any of the previously seen Supra successor concepts — such as the Toyota FT-1 concept unveiled at the 2014 Detroit motor show — would eventuate into a production car.
“At all companies, the core person’s ideas always come first. And at Toyota, our president, Akio Toyoda, seems like he is a chief executive with a passion. And he’s very passionate about making good quality ‘motorsport’ cars.
“And then because the man at the top intends to produce a car with passion, that’s what the company is looking for.”
Declaring that this passion is not just reserved to senior members of the executive team, but also many younger staff. Tada-san says everyone at Toyota is willing and ready to produce something better.
“So, I’m pretty positive that 10 years from now, we should be able to provide something good and built with passion.”
Further, Tada-san confirmed that ‘new technology’ is definitely a part of this future plan.
“Yes, sure. I’m equally passionate about those technologies.
“Of course I’m interested in new technology, but providing just simply new technology is not the ‘Wow’. So I want to have something more to it. I want to combine the two.
Continuing on that line, Tada-san reveals that if he had his own way, he’d love to see a modern-day production-car successor to the globally successful rally beast that was the Celica GT-Four.
“Production car would be preferred [not a concept],” Tada-san said.
First launched in 1986 and created to compete in the World Rally Championship (WRC), the Celica GT-Four was a homologation special manufactured until 1999.
Teaming a turbocharged 2.0-litre 3S-GTE four-cylinder with a five-speed manual transmission and four-wheel drive, outputs were in the realm of 180kW of power and 300Nm of torque (depending on year, specification and market sold).
“I would prefer a new Celica GT4 – turbo, four-wheel drive. [It’s a] really fun car and really fast. And [it was fast on] every type of road.
He said a new one is definitely “one of my dreams”.