Toyota is eyeing a sportier image with the launch of its GR (Gazoo Racing) line of cars in Japan and, later, in other key markets around the world.

The new GR sub-brand follows the "G Sports (G's)" sports conversion car series that has served as a focal point in initiatives to fuel excitement around sports car culture in Japan. Toyota says it has 'revolutionised the G's series by transforming it into the GR series'. For Toyota, the strategy appears to be to have GR work as a sports sub-brand along the lines of BMW's M and Mercedes' AMG.

Plans call for Toyota to further enhance the vehicle line-up in the future and have on offer a variety of aftermarket parts. GR Parts will be available inside "GR Garage"-themed shop-in-shop systems at Toyota dealerships, many of them converted "Area 86" shops, which will cease to exist.

In addition, beginning with the Yaris GRMN revealed in Europe in March 2017, Toyota says it plans to 'deploy the GR series outside of Japan as well gradually'.

The GR trim line-up in Japan will comprise:

  • the top-level "GRMN" - featuring a limited release tuned engine;
  • the mid-range "GR" - the 'essence of GMRN';
  • the entry-level "GR SPORT" - also available in minivans and 'offers drivers the chance to enjoy a casual sports car driving experience'.

As the initial GR series rolls out, the GR and GR SPORT will be available for the Vitz and the GR SPORT will be offered for the Prius PHV, Harrier, Mark X, Voxy, and Noah in Japan. The Vitz GRMN, 86 GR, Aqua GR Sport, and Prius α GR SPORT models will be added to the line-up at a later time. The Vitz GRMN is scheduled for release in the spring of 2018 while the 86 GR, Aqua GR Sport, and Prius α GR SPORT models are slated to go to market this winter.