In recent years, Toyota has made a serious push to try to become the world’s largest automaker by building vehicles designed for mass-market success: think Corolla, Camry and RAV4, and profit-rich upscale models like the Lexus RX crossover.
But now the Japanese company says it’s getting bored building little more than mainstream models, and wants to break back into the sports car segment with a three-car lineup that echoes the Supra, Celica, and MR2 trio it once boasted.
We know a new Supra is coming, thanks to a collaboration with BMW, and the spiritual successor to the Celica is already here in the form of the Toyota 86 (nee Scion FR-S).
That leaves the MR2, which Toyota engineer Tetsuya Tada (also in charge of the brand’s Gazoo Racing division) says may not return in name, but will very likely come back in spirit when it rounds out its trio of sports cars in the next few years. It’s quite possible we got our first look at this car when Toyota revealed the S-FR concept in Tokyo in 2015.
Tada-san wants to have all three cars – he dubs them The Three Brothers – in place “as soon as possible,” though we can’t see it happening before 2020, and certainly not before the Supra is back in Toyota showrooms.
He also says he wants to seriously explore the idea of a hybrid version of the MR2 follow-up, using technology borrowed from Toyota’s Le Mans Prototype, the TS050—though probably with nothing quite like that car’s twin-turbo 986-hp powertrain. He calls the idea of a hybrid sportster a nod to the fact that, by 2020, it will be difficult to build a “simple” sports car, thanks to ever-tightening emissions and noise regulations.
As for the Supra, Tada-san suggested that car will be something like the Porsche Boxster or Cayman, his favourite car from that German brand, adding the Cayman inspires a lot of the Japanese engineers who work on the sports cars that come out of that country.
But as much as all of this is mostly speculation, we are encouraged by the recent announcement of a Yaris hot hatch inspired by the car Toyota is fielding in the 2017 World Rally Championship race season. And Lexus is readying a high-performance version of its forthcoming LC coupe that will be called LC F.
Goodbye, boring; hello, performance.