Toyota GR Could Develop More New Models With Akio Leading Testing: CEO
With more time to focus on his passions, Akio Toyoda could play a key role in getting more enthusiast cars to the people.
Toyota has set wildly varying expectations for performance cars in recent years—it went from talking about TRD versions of every model to saying no new GR sports cars are in the pipeline. Now, its tone seems to have changed again, with its new CEO Koji Sato confirming the GR brand has a future—and maybe even a bright one.
Sato took the reins as president and CEO from Akio Toyoda this January, leaving Toyoda the role of chairman. Toyoda was one of the co-founders of Gazoo Racing, for which he himself drove under the Morizo pseudonym as Toyota's "Master Driver." Under his presidency, GR blossomed as a racing division, and came to adorn a bumper crop of performance cars—the GR 86, Supra, and Yaris and Corolla hot hatches. And now that Toyoda isn't as busy, Sato suggested the former CEO may have more time for his GR pet projects.
"The Gazoo brand will be acknowledged for the future—and maybe we can even speed it up," Sato told Autocar. "Our 'Master Driver' was also president of the company at the same time as he had a steering wheel in his hand for Gazoo. Now he is only chairman maybe he will have a lot more time to develop cars for them?"
Sato's statement is hard to find concrete meaning in, and could imply everything from more GR Sport appearance packages to renewed interest in extra performance models. In recent years, Toyota officials have spoken of desires to resurrect the sport compact Celica and mid-engined MR2 nameplates. Curiously, there's hope for both possibilities.
Rumors swirl of a small, cheap, mid-engined model being co-developed with Daihatsu and Suzuki, one based on the same platform as the GR Yaris. In a similar vein, a report from 2021 indicated the Celica was in the early stages of a comeback, potentially as an EV. Circumstantially, Sato has spoken of a new Celica being his "life's dream" according to Japanese Nostalgic Car.
Ultimately, we have more hope than evidence that all of Toyota's classic sports cars will ride again. But it's still something to hold on to as affordable performance cars become even fewer and further between.
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