The words “Toyota” and “performance” aren’t often spoken in the same sentence these days.
Now, it seems Toyota may want to take things even further by creating performance versions of existing models. The company is thinking big, too, like along the lines of Mercedes-Benz’s AMG line.
Toyota hopes to turn Toyota Motorsport GmbH, the crew behind the Toyota Le Mans effort and the automaker’s once-glorious Formula One team, into a factory-backed tuner. The new performance sub-brand, called TMG for short, currently handles Toyota’s motorsport forays, including a possible World Rally Championship entry in the near future.
First things first: Let’s clear up the striking similarity between the names AMG and TMG. While it appears Toyota may have tried to rip off the German’s legendary name, the origins are completely different. AMG was developed from the last names of the company’s founders, while TMG, obviously, stands for Toyota Motorsport GmbH. (GmbH, if you’re not familiar, is the German equivalent of an LLC company.)
TMG is in the process of preparing a turbocharged 1.6-liter Toyota Yaris for a WRC debut in 2014. Buyers will be able to purchase a street-legal version of the model soon after. According to Yoshiaki Kinoshita, president of TMG, the organization will also prepare high-performance versions of Lexus vehicles, potentially starting with a Lexus LS 460 TMG Edition. That car has been substantially reworked by his team, including the engine, suspension and bodywork. The end product, which could be confirmed for production in as little as 6 to 9 months, should come with a 650-hp twin-turbocharged V8.
While TMG will focus mainly on Lexus vehicles, there’s a distinct possibility that a Scion FR-S TMG could lurk just over the horizon.
Is a Toyota performance brand a good idea, or will TMG be nothing more than a Toyota Marketing Gimmick?