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Toyota sticks it to the Germans: builds mini-Nurburgring to sharpen performance cars like the Corolla GRMN hot hatch

Toyota's finished construction on its own mini-Nurburgring in Japan

Toyota's promise to build "ever better cars" is one the brand is clearly taking seriously, with work now complete on a mini Nurburgring in the Japanese mountains for the brand to test its next-gen performance cars.

The track - a 5.3km mountain road that's "based on long experience of the Nürburgring Nordschleife, which is famous throughout the world for its gruelling driving conditions" - forms part of a broader development facility - the brand's Technical Centre Shimoyama, due to open in 2023.

The new facility will eventually include a high-speed course, as well as specialised testing areas, and will become the Japanese brand's key development facility, with some 3,300 permanent workers.

But the 'Ring-inspired race section will collect the most attention, with a 75m change in elevation that takes in a "wide range" or corners - and that will no doubt serve as the test facility for the brand's new generation of performance cars.

Toyota has already confirmed work is underway on a Corolla GRMN hot hatch to rival the Golf GTI and Hyundai i30N, part of a performance overhaul for the once-staid Japanese brand that is expected to impact almost every model in the line-up.

And work is also thought to be underway on the next Toyota 86, which is again being built alongside the next-generation Subaru BRZ.

"With the aim of making ever-better cars, we have continued to make various efforts in 'feeling the road' and 'conversing with cars' through driving tests around the world, including our Five Continent Drive Project and the Nürburgring 24 Hours endurance race," says Toyota President Akio Toyoda.

"Based on such experiences, we have replicated a variety of roads in the world at the new test course. In addition to conducting driving tests all over the world, and with the replication of severe driving conditions at the new test course, we intend to thoroughly hone every one of our models and develop the types of cars that epitomise the true joy of driving."

The GR Sport-badged cars are restricted to cosmetic upgrades. The GR Sport-badged cars are restricted to cosmetic upgrades.

Toyota's Australian executives have already confirmed plans to mimic Japan's performance strategy, with plans to introduce three new badges for its models here; GR Sport, GR and GRMN.

The idea is to offer three distinct levels of sportiness. The GR Sport-badged cars are restricted to cosmetic upgrades, the GR cars will offer more performance than their regular counterparts, and the GRMN badge will be reserved for the brand’s most hotted-up models.

Is Toyota getting its performance groove back? Tell us in the comments below.