Currently reading: Toyota GR 'critical' in reinvigorating Corolla and Prius nameplates
In-house tuner adds motorsport angle and 'new attractiveness' to mass-produced saloons

Toyota GR will play a critical role in reinvigorating perceptions of long-standing models such as the Prius and Corolla, chairman Akio Toyoda has told Autocar.

Talking about the power of motorsport for driving desirability and pushing profit margins, he highlighted the Prius 24h Le Mans Centennial GR Edition, a special edition, racing-inspired Prius that paid homage to the hybrid technology that helped it win five races between 2018 and 2022 that was displayed at the race.

“Prius became a strong name chiefly because it premiered hybrid technology,” said Toyoda. “It broke the class segments that were there at the time and redefined them. In that sense it became an icon. But now we have decided to come at it from the opposite direction and present a Prius for motorsport.

“It is the same principle for Corolla. The image most people have is of a saloon; a mostly mass-produced vehicle that is loved by the public. But the hydrogen engine car I drove at Le Mans is also a Corolla. And actually the GR Corolla has a different kind of pricing to the standard car [it costs around 3.5 times the price of a base Corolla in markets where it is sold].

Toyota corolla hydrid front three quarter

“GR has the power to push up the product price and add a new attractiveness for these nameplates. What we are doing is a rebranding of these long-selling vehicles.”

The Prius 24h Le Mans Centennial GR Edition is 90mm longer than the standard model, 50mm wider and sits 30mm lower. Its front and rear tracks have also been widened by 40mm. It also features mini-inverters, which are  mounted onto the electric motor directly – silicon carbide semiconductors and improved cooling.

Toyota prius gr front three quarter


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The GR Corolla is not on sale in the UK, officially because the company is selling enough GR Yaris and GR86 models to satisfy demand, but is sold with a turbocharged 1.6-litre engine making close to 300bhp in its most powerful form, all-wheel drive and a widened body.

Toyoda also revealed his intention to race in Europe again next year now he is no longer CEO of Toyota. He has pledged to race at the Nurburgring at some point during the VLN season, potentially taking in the 24 hour race at the track if his calendar allows.

“My starting point as a racing driver was at the Nurburgring,” he said. “Back then I didn’t have any driving skills and I was pretty afraid, but after racing in Japan and Asia I hope my skills have gone up, and I can race to improve again.”

John Neville

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