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Toyota’s Le Mans racer for the road. Image by Toyota.

Toyota’s Le Mans racer for the road
Gazoo Racing Super Sport Concept gets 1,000hp LMP1 running gear
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What's this then?

This is the Toyota Gazoo Racing Super Sport Concept, almost unquestionably the star of Japan's other motor show the Tokyo Auto Salon, which takes place in January.

The name's a bit of a mouthful. What's under the skin?

Essentially this is Toyota's TS050 Le Mans racing car wearing roadgoing bodywork. Toyota and Gazoo Racing (the in-house racing and tuning squad that runs Toyota's Le Mans and rallying efforts) have taken the carbon fibre chassis from that car, as well as its 735kW 2.4-litre turbo V6 hybrid powertrain with four-wheel drive.

735kW? What's that in deciwatts?

No idea, but it's just a fraction shy of a whopping 1,000hp. And as it's a hybrid designed for triple-stint fuel runs at the Le Mans 24 Hours, we'd put money on it being more fuel efficient than recent Formula One-inspired hypercars the Aston Martin Valkyrie or Mercedes-AMG Project One.

And probably Toyota reliable too. When can I buy one?

Sadly, you can't. This is a one-off show pony. But the idea of this car, as well as the just-launched Yaris Gazoo hot hatch, is to increase the connections between Toyota's road car range and its racing activities. The Japanese giant wants to turn Gazoo Racing into its answer to Ford's RS or BMW's M divisions.

I see. What did the bosses have to say about the car?

At the Super Sport's launch, Gazoo Racing Company president Shigeki Tomoyama said the concept is the starting point for Toyota's plan to develop sports cars from active race cars. "Rather than developing production cars into sports cars, we aim to work out how to incorporate the know-how developed through races and rallies into production cars," Mr Tomoyama said. "Although it will be some time before you all have the opportunity to get behind the wheel, I hope that the GR Super Sport Concept will give you a taste of what we aim to achieve with our next-generation sports cars."

There's a lot of talk in the air about a whole range of Gazoo-branded hot road cars, and it looks as if the next one will be the new Supra coupe. That's being co-developed with BMW (which will use the same platform for its Z4 replacement) and it's expected that the top-spec model will be a Gazoo-branded Supra, using a turbo BMW straight-six engine and a hybrid power boost.

Mr Tomoyama referred to a statement late last year by Toyota Motor Corporation president Akio Toyoda, who said he was "strongly determined to make sure that cars will be fun for the next 100 years. Toyota Gazoo Racing aims to continue making exciting cars to bring smiles to our customers' faces and to contribute to the future of the automobile industry," he said.

He also compared the mighty 1,000hp supercar to Toyota's oddball electric pod, the e-Palette, launched at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. "If the e-Palette Concept is the next generation of the horse-drawn carriage, the GR Super Sport Concept would be the polar opposite as the next-generation racehorse. Its appeal is more personal, like that of a much-loved horse to its owner. Despite the differences between the two concept models, both are electrified vehicles equipped with the latest IT technologies and are set to become safe and environmentally friendly connected cars.

"Even as electrification and IT technologies accelerate, the availability of different types of cars, including polar opposite models like the GR Super Sport Concept and the e-Palette Concept, means that they will never become a commodity. Furthermore, it is an unchanging fact that people want to travel freely, access distant places and to get there quicker than everyone else in attractive vehicles. The feelings that one has for a car that can do all this are rich and heart-pounding."

And so say all of us.

Neil Briscoe - 16 Jan 2018

2018 Toyota Gazoo Super Sport Concept. Image by Toyota.2018 Toyota Gazoo Super Sport Concept. Image by Toyota.2018 Toyota Gazoo Super Sport Concept. Image by Toyota.2018 Toyota Gazoo Super Sport Concept. Image by Toyota.2018 Toyota Gazoo Super Sport Concept. Image by Toyota.

2018 Toyota Gazoo Super Sport Concept. Image by Toyota.2018 Toyota Gazoo Super Sport Concept. Image by Toyota.2018 Toyota Gazoo Super Sport Concept. Image by Toyota.2018 Toyota Gazoo Super Sport Concept. Image by Toyota.2018 Toyota Gazoo Super Sport Concept. Image by Toyota.    - Toyota road tests
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