AE86 even 'invented' drift culture.
Yet all those achievements seemed swamped in a sea of beige.
Thankfully someone in Toyota City seemed to realise. Was that Akio Toyoda, boss since 2005 and part-time N24 racer? That he did the latter under a nom de guerre is pretty cool, likewise the fact Lexus was permitted to create a vehicle as astonishing as the LFA and go chasing BMW M and Mercedes-AMG with a V8 super saloon. I don't know if he deserves personal credit. But his enthusiasm for competition has led to a generation of staff getting a taste for racing before being reabsorbed into the corporate machine.
How is that manifested? With cars like the mad looking C-HR crossover, which I drove recently and unexpectedly rather liked. Because, yes, even cars like this have some motorsport inspired engineers involved in their development. And get raced at the VLN. Embedding guys like that within programmes for 'everyday' products seems to be reaping rewards.
development boss Tetsuya Tada shortly before it went on sale in the UK. The picture he painted of a small number of enthusiast engineers battling from within against the lowest common denominator, design-by-committee corporate culture was compelling. True? No idea. But we all like a good yarn and I bought it wholesale. I will own one at some point.
The confused sense of 'ownership' between Toyota and Subaru over the car (I think we all know who was really wearing the trousers in that relationship) doesn't seem to have put them off collaborating on future sports cars either, the pending Supra/BMW Z5 project looking promising. I am deeply sceptical of the whole Prius-driven hybrid thing while admitting a grudging respect for the way it has dominated the recent automotive landscape. Thankfully beyond Toyota maintains a rich seam of eccentricity, expressed by cars like the Lexus GS F with its naturally aspirated V8 and passive suspension in a market obsessed with turbocharged downsizing and driver configurable modes. And, yes, I know they've since bowed to market pressure and added adaptive dampers. But the point was made.
GRMN version is really promising, daft name and all.
As a wounded VW Group retreats into a phase of cookie-cutter conservatism I'm really enjoying Toyota's rebirth as a builder of cool, quirky and interesting cars. And I'd include the CH-R among them. Just perhaps not the hybrid version.