Toyota’s Sending a Crossover to Race the Nürburgring

Carmaker will test its C-HR crossover coupe concept at The Green Hell.

The engineers would have you believe that racing improves the breed, and when the product planners are busy breeding new crossover models faster than tribbles, those two worlds eventually must collide. So it is with the announcement that Toyota Gazoo Racing is taking three cars to this year’s Nürburgring 24-Hour race, one of them being a competition version of the Toyota C-HR crossover coupe concept unveiled at the 2014 Paris Motor Show.

The rebadged Toyota Team—once modestly known as Gazoo Racing Masters of Nürburgring—celebrates its 10th anniversary in the race with an unconventional charge on this rather high horse. Since 2007, it has fielded everything from a Toyota GT86 (our Scion FR-S) to a Toyota Altezza (our Lexus IS) and a Lexus LF-A super coupe, and it’s taken home quite a bit of podium jewelry, too. Company CEO Akio Toyoda, team leader, is expected to be Racer X, the unnamed mystery driver who will compete in the the C-HR; the other team cars, a Lexus RC and a Lexus RC F, will be driven by drivers from Japan.

Still in concept form for this outing, the C-HR looks like it bolted out of the Anime Features category on Netflix, in a good way. It’s Toyota’s version of the Nissan Juke but less daffy, with more “diamond-inspired styling” (in the words of the people who draw these things).

Speaking of the Juke, after a night of one too many Pimm’s Cups, Nissan UK shoehorned GT-R internals into their quaint crossover, creating the 545-horsepower Juke-R. It was a vehicular Kylo Ren, anger management issues and all, minus the patricide. Yet they didn’t race it. As far as we can tell, Toyota’s effort will be the first time a carmaker has subjected a jacked-up family runabout to the punishment of internationally sanctioned endurance road racing.

The Toyota C-HR presages a production vehicle that will undoubtedly be toned down, but it should still make a mark even after succumbing to the automaker’s official “Keen Look” and “Under Priority” design languages. When it arrives, it will be the only Karussell and Pflanzgarten-certified crossover on the market.

That retail version of the CH-R will appear at the Geneva Motor Show in March, perhaps with an ultra-efficient hybrid powertrain. It could also continue the abuse of the English language by putting four doors on a so-called “coupe,” but we don’t blame you, Toyota—all the cool kids are doing it.

So if you’re wandering the German fields this May, be sure to watch out for Akio and his ride. He might not be in front of everyone else, but he’ll definitely be looking down on them.