Toyota is serious about expanding its range of high-performance GR-badged cars. After splicing racing genes into the Corolla’s DNA, the Japanese company could inject a significant dose of excitement into the Camry in order to plant its stake in the sport sedan segment.
Bob Carter, the executive vice president of sales at Toyota, answered “stay tuned” when Motor Trend asked him if a sport sedan is in the pipeline. That’s obviously not a confirmation, but it’s also not a denial. And, while he didn’t single out the Camry, there aren’t a lot of sedans left in Toyota’s American showrooms. There’s the Corolla, but that segment of the market is already covered by the 300-horsepower GR Corolla hatchback. There’s the Avalon, but it’s on its way out after the 2022 model year. There’s the Mirai, but that’s seriously unlikely.
We’re left with the Camry, a perennially popular sedan that was once a byword for blandness. Toyota went to significant lengths to make the current generation more exciting than its predecessor, so the foundations have already been laid, and a GR-ified Camry would give buyers an alternative to the Kia K5 GT. It’s too early to tell precisely what changes the Japanese firm would make to the Camry. We’d expect a muscular-looking body kit, racing-inspired parts in the cabin, and an assortment of mechanical modifications. It’ll be interesting to see how much power gets dialed in, because the 3.5-liter V6-powered Camry already outguns the K5 GT with a 301-horsepower rating.
All-wheel-drive could be part of the package as well, as it’s offered in the standard Camry, but we wouldn’t expect to see a six-speed stick. It stands to reason that beefier brakes and a firmer suspension system will round out the GR updates, though this is all pure speculation.
Looking ahead, Toyota is open to adding electrified models to its GR range.
“Electrification coming to GR is something we’re talking about. In the long term, what is the best way to deliver what GR is and what does electrification have to do with that? The key is fun to drive, lightweight, track performance, so if we can deliver that with an EV, we might look into that,” said Cooper Ericksen, Toyota’s vice president of product planning and strategy, in the same interview.
Toyota’s definition of “zero emissions” isn’t limited to electric cars, and it’s also testing high-performance hydrogen-powered cars. Unlike the system in the Mirai, the drivetrain that it’s experimenting with keeps the internal combustion engine but burns hydrogen instead of gasoline.