Toyota Releases Heavily Modified GR 86 Concepts

Gazoo Racing (GR) has earned itself quite a bit of cachet since Akio Toyoda decided to make it the de facto performance arm of Toyota in 2009. It’s slowly supplanting Toyota Racing Development (TRD), which is still technically running the show but currently feels more like the manufacturer’s North American off-road racing division. GR has been producing global, models that actually provide enhanced performance and output from the factory while TRD has basically become the company’s in-house parts catalog.

However, Gazoo has some performance parts of its own and Toyota has been eagerly modifying the crap out of its vehicles as a way to tease them. The brand is now ready to start selling them and has re-released last month’s dual GR 86 concepts — designed to tickle the enthusiast community — with the relevant details. 

The more understated model comes with aftermarket bumpers, side skirts, fender ducking, window cowlings, and an understated lip spoiler on the rear deck. It’s also been given forged, 19-inch TRD wheels and a snazzier fuel cap — the latter of which isn’t supposed to offer any performance advantage and looks bad. Beneath the body panels, GR has given the 86 new shocks and springs, upgraded and monoblock brake calipers (with ventilated rotors), and a more sporting exhaust system.

Dubbed the “Toyota GR 86 GR Parts,” the model is supposed to represent what can be done with a wad of cash and some time spent with the new catalog. The model is designed to represent what’s possible while still keeping things street legal.

Though if you want something truly maniacal and features GR parts more overtly, allow me to direct you to the “Toyota GR 86 GR Parts Concept.” Starting from the same, tastefully understated canvas, the manufacturer went bananas as a way to test the latest components under development. This one never needed to remain street legal and certainly doesn’t look like it could last long in most states without getting some unwanted attention from local authorities.

Exterior upgrades include a wildly aggressive front fascia equipped with a ram-air intake and seemingly as many canards as Toyota could make fit. There’s also a frontal lip to encourage additional downforce, which is one of the main themes of the vehicle. At the rear, the 86 has been issued a massive GT wing and there are ventilation points along the widened rear fenders to help keep any unwanted air from sneaking under the vehicle and mucking up the aerodynamic design Toyota clearly prioritized with the chosen components. Carbon fiber side skirts further help here, with a large diffuser finishing things off at the rear.

While the 19-inch forged aluminum wheels look familiar, they’re substantially wider to accommodate the additional space allotted by the fenders that have 1.7 inches of girth over the standard model.

Toyota also alluded to enhanced rigidity and meaningful weight reduction on the concept model. But there aren’t enough specifics to explain where and how that’s taking place. Similarly left to our imagination are any modifications made to the engine, which is a 2.4-liter horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine (sourced from Subaru) that makes 228 horsepower in the current generation 86. While slightly beefier than the 2.0-liter unit that was equipped to the first-generation car, a lack of power is often cited as the vehicle’s main shortcoming.

Frankly, I think this comes primarily from people that haven’t driven one. While not blisteringly fast, the older 86 and Subaru BRZ could breeze past 60 mph in just over 6 seconds. This turned out to be totally acceptable for enjoying oneself on a twisty backroad and allows drivers to actually push the vehicle’s limitations while still operating within the confines of the law. By contrast, more powerful vehicles sometimes have a problem maximizing driving enjoyment without breaking the speed limit. But Toyota has obviously built up this particular 86 to be track-focused, so why not have it pushing 300 horsepower?

We’re guessing the Concept is preoccupied with assessing its existing aerodynamic enhancements so they can be sold to customers. Manufacturers also don’t typically provide insane performance packages that could place undue strain on the powertrain. While TRD and GR may offer horsepower-boosting options in the future, it’s probably wise to leave the truly risky stuff to aftermarket tuning firms. Factory warranties can only be stretched so far and these models are already uncharacteristically wild for a company like Toyota — not that we’re displeased to be seeing this side of the automaker.

[Images: Toyota]

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