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Super Sport: Toyota debuts concept inspired by Le Mans

Konstantin Sheiko
January 16, 2018

Revealed as part of the Tokyo Car Show, Toyota's newest concept is described by experts as a hypercar. Inspired by its Le Mans racing vehicle, the GR Super Sport would have an output of near 1,000hp.

A mere concept car, for now, its introduction comes as Toyota aims to develop a new range of sports cars from its active race cars according to Gazoo Racing, the Japanese manufacturer's sports car subsidiary.

Having forged a stellar constellation of successful, production cars in the past, Toyota’s promise to its fans is famously “never stop innovating, making ever-better cars”. An approach that the Japanese carmaker now looks to execute through the racing world.

Perfected through Toyota's participation to the FIA Endurance Championship (WEC), a hybrid technology was implemented on the Super Sport. This would see it combine a V6 biturbo engine coupled with an electric engine that would output a total of 986hp.

"Rather than developing production cars into sports cars, we aim to work out how to incorporate the know-how gained from racing and rallying into production cars." detailed Shigeki Tomoyama, president of Gazoo Racing.

As expected, the newly revealed GR Super Sport Concept (GR stands for Gazoo Racing) looks very much like a prototype LMP1 or LMP2 car and features a low-slung profile with a stabilizing shark fin and well-defined driver cockpit. "I am strongly determined to make sure that cars will be fun for the next 100 years." commented Toyota president, Akio Toyoda.

"This is the starting point for Toyota's completely new challenge to develop sports cars from active race cars." details Tamoyama. "The purpose is not just to win races, but to contribute to developing world-leading hybrid technology and EV systems."

The WEC's influence extends primarily to the hypercar's engine. Beneath its wave-like form sits a biturbo, direct injection 2.4-litre V6 powertrain combined with an electric component that shoots its output up to 986 horsepower. Toyota says these competitions also improved their fuel-economy tech.

Presuming the power split between the engine and electric motors is the same as in the racecar, electric motors account for about 493 of those horses, and power is routed through a six-speed sequential gearbox. "The feeling that one has for a car that can do all this are rich and heart-pounding" confided Tamoyama.

According to Toyota, the concept’s power unit features technology and systems derived from its endurance-racing program. It is widely known that one of Toyota’s Gazoo Racing many aims is to continue refining the existing approaches to the car making through the continuous process of molding and testing that can only be achieved participating in motor-sport events, including races and rallies. 

The technologies and know-how obtained through such activities are subsequently fed back to fuel new production designs and ideas. The new GR Super Sport Concept is definitely the direct outcome of such approach. 

Toyota continuous participation in the WEC has been a very rewarding and highly beneficial project in terms of developing, testing and improving the break-through hybrid technologies in various vehicles’ systems. The new GR design certainly exhibits the race car background not only in the car's carbon fibre chassis, but also its entire layout.

The car also features race-ready 13-inch-wide slick tires at all four corners, but the chassis is only half the story. The other is that scintillating shell around it. It is very clearly inspired by prototype race cars with the tall, wide fenders over the wheels, the large rear wing, narrow cabin and copious vents. It is definitely sleeker, though. It does not have the bulbous headlights of prototype racers. 

In fact, it is not entirely clear where does it have the headlights yet, but if it does, they are probably in those hexagons on the front fender, which would match the taillights at the back.

The rear wing has also been dropped down for a sleeker profile. It also appears that the cockpit sits higher than the race cars. This may have partly been a styling decision, but also possibly to improve visibility and make it easier to drive. With its high-efficiency EV system and lean-burn engine, this next-generation super sports car is set to deliver both the joys of ultimate power and an environmentally friendly performance.

Either way, Toyota sounds quite serious about turning the GR Super Sport Concept into a production car. 

He continued: “We are currently running this bare chassis and making various enhancements, with the aim of developing a sports car that will more directly convey the TS050's appeal while offering easier handling. 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.”

At the end of last year, following the announcement that Toyota would continue competing in the WEC, President Akio Toyoda commented, “more than one hundred years have passed since the birth of the automobile. As the industry approaches times of tremendous change, I am strongly determined to make sure that cars will be fun for the next one hundred years”. 

As part of Akio Toyoda’s drive to imbue Toyota with more spirit, the company has been pushing to develop its Gazoo Racing performance division into a global brand, complete with sporty GR-monikered versions of Toyota models that are said to be headed to the US. In fact, rumors persist that the upcoming Supra sports car revival will wear some sort of Gazoo Racing badge. 

Although the majority of car enthusiasts will probably lament that they will never afford to park a GR Super Sport production car in their garage, the next Toyota model may just have a little bit of its technology inside. 

As far as it concerns the vehicle itself, the car racing and sports enthusiasts hope they do not have to wait too long for it to go into production cycle, as having another race car-derived hypercar to face off with the likes of the Mercedes-AMG Project One and Aston Martin Valkyrie would make for one hell of a comparison test.