Toyota global boss Akio Toyoda drives prototype 86 rally car as part of Australian visit.
It’s no secret that Toyota global president Akio Toyoda is a petrol head, part-time racing driver and driving force behind the 86 sports coupe. So when he visited Australia last week to take part in Toyota's Oh What a Feeling! Discovery Tour, we expected him to get behind the wheel of something.
What we didn’t expect though, was a purpose-built all-wheel drive and turbocharged 86 rally car.
Officially called the GR86X, the special 86 was developed by Gazoo Racing in collaboration with four-time World Rally Championship (WRC) winner Tommi Mäkinen.
Of course, Mäkinen is no stranger to vehicle development, assisting Subaru with the 2014 WRX STI and Mitsubishi with the EVO VI Mäkinen edition of 1999.
Enthusiasts aware of the Toyota 86’s Subaru Impreza origins have been calling for all-paw and turbocharged variants of the 86/BRZ coupe since it was introduced in 2012. However, 86 chief engineer Tetsuya Tada has always maintained that the car should remain a purist proposition and lose weight instead of gaining power.
As reported earlier this week, Toyoda landed in Coffs Harbour NSW to meet a group of Japanese engineers carrying out a ten-week research and development mission.
As part of the ten-week program, Toyoda drove the all-paw 86 on the rally stage-like roads near Coffs Harbour.
After experiencing Australia’s roads, Toyoda said the project had provided an invaluable learning experience and would be significant in the development of future Toyota models.
"It was a perfect testing ground as Australian roads represent 80 per cent of the world's driving conditions.
“In fact, after driving on so many roads, our team members' expectations for future test-car courses will never be the same because of all the stark realities that they experienced," he said.