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Toyota commits to build hypercar. Image by Toyota.

Toyota commits to build hypercar
Get your chequebooks ready for a road-going Toyota Le Mans winner.
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What's this then?

This is the Toyota Gazoo Racing Super Sports Concept.

Another motor-show-stand-unicorn, I suppose?

It would seem not. We had thought that Toyota was only going to build one of these, just as a way of bigging up its Gazoo Racing brand (think of it as the Toyota equivalent of BMW M, or Honda Type R), but it now looks as if a very limited production run will actually go ahead. It's basically a road-going version of the TS050 race car that's just taken Toyota, for the first time ever, to victory at the Le Mans 24hrs.

Shigeki Tomoyama, President of Gazoo Racing Company, said that competing in the World Endurance Championship - one of the most demanding motorsports series - and racing at Le Mans has helped Toyota advance the development of its hybrid technology. "We started this project because we believe that creating a super sports car that delivers the same appeal as the TS050 Hybrid greatly adds to Toyota's involvement in WEC. And at some point in the near future, customers will have a chance to get behind the wheel of this incredible machine and experience its astonishing power and driving performance," said Tomoyama.

What are the vital stats?

Well, its combo of twin-turbo 2.4-litre V6 petrol engine and massive hybrid electric system means that when everything's turning and burning you've got near-as-dammit 1,000hp to play with. And because the chassis is, in all essentials, the same as that of the Le Mans-winning TS050, it's all carbon-fibre and weighs about as much as a damp dishcloth. Performance should be staggering. Have you seen the way the racing version murders Porsche 911 RSRs in a straight-line?

Quite. Is there more at stake here than just a low-production run supercar?

Indeed. Toyota wants to build up the Gazoo Racing name into a desirable performance sub-brand. It's already scored some success with the little supercharged Yaris GRMN, and now it wants to branch out. "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. "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 [the oddball autonomous pod unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show], means that they will never become a commodity. 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" said Tomoyama.

"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."

Any other ulterior motives?

Almost certainly so. The organisers of Le Mans and the World Endurance Championship are changing the rules for the race, dropping the hyper-expensive LMP1 regulations and encouraging car makers to turn their road-going supercars into racers, with a much lower budget than that for racers such as the TS050. The likes of the Aston Martin Valkyrie, Ferrari LaFerrari and Mercedes-AMG Project 1 are being courted, but Toyota could well be about to pull a fast one for the 2020 Le Mans by taking its TS050 race car, turning it into a road car, and then back into a racing car again...

Surely that's not been done before?

Oh, I wouldn't know (cough - Dauer 962 - cough).

Neil Briscoe - 19 Jun 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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