Who: Toyota – and possibly Lexus – and its performance arm of Gazoo Racing
What: An all-new sports car that will form the basis for its new GT3 entry-level model
When: Probably in time for the new GT3 rules in 2024
Why: Because the Japanese giant really wants a more competitive GT3 car
Toyota’s all-new sports car has moved one step closer to production reality, with images of the future road car leaking from the European patent office.
Clearly based on the GR GT3 Concept car that the Japanese giant unveiled in January these new images show the car without its large, racing-style rear wing, but otherwise very similar to the machine previously revealed.
There are a number of seemingly race-inspired design elements, including the side exhausts that exit behind the front wheel arches, the center wheels and even what looks like a race-style fuel filler on the right-hand C-pillar.
Toyota has made little secret of its intention to race this new model. In fact, the name GR GT3 makes it clear that this new model is just as well designed for the track as it is for the road. Toyota sees an opportunity for a profitable race car for customers, as long as it can build something more competitive than the previous GT3 offering, which was based on the Lexus RC F.
Creating a road-legal version of its race car may sound like an extreme policy for Toyota, but it really is something that was a plan for Gazoo Racing. For starters, there’s the GR Yarisa bespoke three-door version of the brand’s city car made especially for World Rally homologation.
But this is arguably still relatively sensible compared to the idea that Toyota would build a sports car that could compete with Porsche, until you realize the GR Super Sport Project† That car was intended to be a legal version of the latest Le Mans Hypercar entry, with the project reaching a very advanced stage of testing and development before being quietly halted.
If Toyota pushes through the idea of a production GR GT3, the brand would rival Porsche, Ferrari and Aston Martin on both road and track, and at a lower cost than the GR Super Sport.
The new GT3 regulations are expected to come into effect before the 2024 season, so it is likely that this is the time frame Toyota is working on to launch both the road and track-ready version of this new model.
While the appearance of the new car is becoming increasingly apparent, what lies beneath the surface remains a mystery for now. There’s no official word from Toyota, but options include the brand’s all-new twin-turbocharged V8, which has reportedly been in development for years for Toyota and Lexus models or may be sticking to the 5.0-liter naturally aspirated V8. in the RC F (although that Yamaha-based engine is getting pretty old).
There is another element to consider in this project and that is the fact that Gazoo Racing is not limited to just the Toyota brand. That opens the door for this car to actually ditch the Toyota branding and instead launch under the Lexus Gazoo Racing brand (which previously existed in Japan’s Super GT series).
Lexus hasn’t had a proper halo model since the demise of the V10-powered LFA in 2013. A twin-turbo V8-powered, race-inspired coupe would certainly fit.
If you take a closer look at the GR GT3 patent images in this context, there are some notable styling similarities, including the overall silhouette and proportions, as well as details around the lights and rear vents.
That would also allow Toyota to maintain its competitive focus in the Hypercar/LMDh category and leave the battle against GT3-spec Porsches, Ferraris and more to the Lexus brand.
Regardless of the badge, this new Japanese sports car will arrive in the near future…
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