By on February 1, 2010

Oh how quickly things change! Just weeks ago, if you’d asked the average well-informed consumer what Toyota needed to change with its strategy, you’d have been treated to a treatise on how Toyota’s quest for quality and mass-market appeal had reduced its brand to signifying snooze-inducing appliances. Indeed, Toyota’s new CEO has emphasized enthusiasm as an area for improvement, waxing eloquent about the “splendid flavor” of the sporty vehicles Toyota doesn’t offer. Accordingly, Toyota is launching a sporting sub-brand àlá BMW’s “M” or Volkswagen’s new “R” line of high-performance vehicles according to Inside Line. Thanks to Toyota’s descent into recall hell however, boosting the brand’s sporty credentials is suddenly of highly debatable utility.

The brand, which will be called “G’s,” is based on collaboration between Toyota’s Gazoo racing team, Toyota Racing Development and Modelista, Toyota’s entry-level street tuner. The “G’s”-branded vehicles will be the top level of street-tuned Toyotas, providing more power than Modelista vehicles at a higher price point. The first indications of this effort were “G-Sport” tuned Prius, Mark X and FT-86 (aka Toyobaru) concepts shown at the Tokyo Auto Salon. In addition, several Gazoo-developed concepts appeared at the same time, showing off such wacky, nevergonnahappen concepts as a mid-engined, Highlander Hybrid-powered MR2 V6 and hotted-up Aygo and iQ models.

In the post-recall environment, regaining a tarnished quality crown will be Toyota’s top priority, but how and where it introduces more “splendid flavor” to its lineup bears watching as well. Introducing a greater performance emphasis to its lifeless Scion brand makes far more sense in the US market than trying to accustom Americans to a new sub-brand from an OEM that hasn’t sold a legitimately sporty car in years. At the same time, it looks like Scion will not be getting the FT-86 “Toyobaru” RWD coupe that is the poster boy for Toyota’s newfound sporty pretensions, so Toyota will probably introduce a sub-brand for high-po and tuner variants of the budget sports coupe.That would give Toyota two major aspirations (repairing its quality image and building a sporty image) while leaving Scion without a purpose, proving just how quickly GM-style branding conundrums can come into play.

Meanwhile, rumors that the 392 hp hybrid V6-powered MR2 could head for production highlight just how far Toyota might be willing to go to bust its appliance reputation… and show Honda how the hybrid sportscar should be done. And how good the result might be. A 300 hp+ mid-engined sportscar based on an existing platform and hybrid drivetrain (offered alongside the FT-86) would do a lot more to revive Toyota’s sporting profile than an in-house tuner brand. That is, if any of this enthusiasm enhancement actually happens once the corporate aftershocks of Toyota’s quality crash shake out.

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27 Comments on “Toyota Launching “G” Sporty Sub-Brand...”

  • avatar

    It’s so high performance it will accelerate to 150 mph all by itself!


  • avatar
    Amendment X

    Isn’t this what Scion should have been originally?

    • 0 avatar

      Scion has never had much pretense in being “sporty”. It’s supposed to just be “cool” or whatever. These vehicles will probably be much too expensive to be Scions.

    • 0 avatar

      Really though, while Scion is another brand, but it really isn’t, its a sub-brand. Its sold along side other Toyotas, and it isn’t like that large of a multi-brand conundrum similar to GM’s like TTAC suggest. Scion doesn’t really need too many cars, it doesn’t need a full line of vehicles. Its sold and serviced next to Toyotas, a handful of small cars is all it really needs. Logistically Scion getting smaller isn’t much of an issue.

      Toyota seems to want to spin off the “Prius” into its own sub-brand as well. Even if it does have a “Prius” line and a “Scion” line next to other Toyotas, its a very different situation then juggling Chevy and a Pontiac.

      It’d be silly to put too many sporty models under the Scion when in fact Toyota needs ‘Toyota’ branded sports cars to improve their beige appliance image.

    • 0 avatar
      Amendment X

      Scion was conceived as a brand that would bring young people into Toyota dealerships. Getting young people to become interested in your product has always been a difficult exercise. In the case of automobiles, young people care about three things:

      1. Low price
      2. Style
      3. Performance (less important than 1 and 2)

      Scion achieved 1, but it never achieved 2 and 3. Their cars are universally uglier and slower than the average car. If Scion would have just launched the brand originally with all sporty-looking, cheap cars, they would have gotten more sales. Give Scion a “halo” car in the mid 20s for all the young people to aspire to own (but possibly not actually able to afford) to build the credibility of the brand, and you have fixed Scion.

    • 0 avatar

      There was a time (albeit a short one) where you could get TRD superchargers put in the TC. I think a few dealership still offer TRD cold-airs and exhausts too.

  • avatar

    Anyone else think these look like white cars forever disfigured by an accident in a paint booth?


  • avatar
    Brian E

    That’s “Gs” as in “I can’t believe how many Gs I pulled as my Toyota accelerated out of control!”

  • avatar

    2ZZ + MR2. That would be a “sane” start.

  • avatar

    Toyota fails miserably in the coupe segment. Although some past history saw success, in the last 2 decades sales were so slow models were discontinued, like the Solara for example. This limited segment will not do much for the bottom line in regards to expanding brand width.
    With this car as a G series and looking like an Infiniti, where is this going?

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    They’ve completely lost the plot, haven’t they?

  • avatar

    You couldn’t make this up could you? Not only is Toyota trying to be sporty after ditching every single sporty car in their lineup, they’re now going to make a ‘sporty’ Prius? What is the point?

  • avatar

    I’ll believe it when I see a real car with a price sticker on it at my local dealership. Toyota’s been talking about building a sporty car for longer than GM talked about the new Camaro, which at least exists. While I’m waiting, I’ll continue to research the Infiniti G35/37 coupe (in case I have tons of money to spend), and the Hyundai Genesis coupe (in case I don’t).

  • avatar

    I guess “G” is better than T{u}RD………

  • avatar
    Mr Carpenter

    Is this where I leave a comment about “G spots” or would that be inappropriate? Uh oh, too late!

    Hey! Toyota could bring back their old advertising tag-line “What a feeling!”…..

    Seriously, though, combing “Gazoo” and “Modellista” and using both initials wouldn’t have worked out so well for Toyota, would it? “GM” is already taken, anyhow.

  • avatar

    G hits the spot. Not! And what is up with those fugly side skirts??? My ’77 Parisienne had those! So I guess it’s true… Toyota is turning into GM after all.

  • avatar

    I have yet to find an in-house tuner (M, AMG, S-line, F, MazdaSpeed, Mugen, NISMO, etc . . . ) that did not cost more money yet deliver less performance than the aftermarket is capable of.

    The only benefit to in house tuners is the ability to finance the package with a car loan, and to maintain warranty.

    • 0 avatar

      No tuner has yet been able to make a 300HP Impreza, with a 6-speed transmission, driver controlled center differential, front and rear LSDs, Brembo brakes all around, forged BBS wheels, Recaro seats, etc… for about $32K, as the first US market STI did. The new one with the BBS wheels is at $38K, which a tuner still couldn’t build for you at that price.

  • avatar

    Toyota can huff and puff all they want, but over the decades they have systematically flushed ‘enthusiasm’ out of their system. Sure, they can stuff a big motor into a Lexus IS and make a nice car, but it doesn’t come naturally to them and they have to make an effort. Even then it falls short of the BMW M3. Or, they try to one-up Ferrari and all they’ve managed to really do was create a really expensive and really ugly Supra. Toyota has discovered that all they are really good at is slapping a spoiler, rocker panel extensions and new badging on a Corolla and, like their pedal assemblies, calling it good enough.

  • avatar
    Kyle Schellenberg

    These Gazoo designs are from another world…

    The Prius mod is particularly hot and shouldn’t create any split personality disorder issues amongst environmentalists. It shouldn’t create any conflicts amongst my-car-looks-like-a-flaming-turd-alists either.

  • avatar

    Damn! Someone already beat me to an ‘intended acceleration’ joke. Seriously though, I think we all know that Toyota will just tweak the suspension on one of it’s underpowered snoozemobiles and call it a sport car. YAWN.

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