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Move over HSV and FPV: It’s Toyota’s TRD!

Getting serious: A TRD-prepared Corolla rally car (above) and TRD Australia corporate manager Greg Gardner with a supercharged version of the Aurion V6 (below).

Toyota announces the name under which its next-gen performance models will emerge

9 May 2006

FIRST we had Mercedes’ AMG and BMW’s M division, then came Holden’s HSV, Ford’s FPV, Mitsubishi’s Ralliart and even Chrysler’s SRT performance vehicle brands.

Now it’s Toyota’s turn to enter the ranks of bona-fide performance car brands available Down Under.

To prove how serious the Japanese giant is about matching its performance car-making rivals with hot versions of models like the forthcoming Aurion, Toyota Australia has announced it will establish Toyota Racing Development (TRD) as a separate vehicle franchise from Toyota for the first anywhere in the world.

TRD is a division of Toyota Technocraft – the company’s global motorsport and high-performance motoring arm for more than 50 years – and will be headed by Greg Gardner.

It will be charged with producing performance variants of just about everything in Toyota’s vehicle range, starting with the locally designed Aurion large sedan due on sale in November.

Toyota says its high-performance Aurion variant will be launched in the second quarter of 2007, and it’s expected to carry the Sportivo name.

8 center imageIf its supercharged 3.5-litre V6 and the styling concept that previewed it this year’s Melbourne motor show are any indication, the hottest Aurion should – for the first time – give Toyota an opposite number to local tuning houses like HSV and FPV.

The Chrysler Group recently ramped up its SRT performance brand with the 300C SRT-8, which will be followed by SRT versions of Jeep’s Grand Cherokee and the upcoming Dodge Caliber.

Mitsubishi is also expected to give its Ralliart brand some serious clout with a hot version of the 380 sedan and Colt coupe-cabriolet.

But it’s the financial and marketing might of Toyota that will make TRD a formidable force on Australia’s performance car stage.

With styling by Toyota Style Australia and engineering input from TRD, Toyota says the locally-developed Aurion flagship will be unique in the Toyota world.

According to Toyota, it will "offer a complete package with the accent on refined power and athletic driving dynamics".

In a press release issued on Monday, Mr Gardner said TRD was the natural choice for the company’s new range of Australian-developed Toyotas because it has a history of creating race-winners for the brand in motorsports ranging from world rallying and Le Mans sports cars to Indianapolis and Champ Cars in the US.

TRD will also be behind Toyota’s US Craftsman Trucks series campaign and the company’s foray into NASCAR racing in 2007.

"In the market research we conducted, the TRD brand was well recognised, despite the fact that it has never been directly marketed here," he said.

Mr Gardner said TRD Australia would be unlike its counterparts in Japan and the US, where the brand is known for producing performance components.

"TRD Australia will be a complete vehicle range, rather than just an aftermarket parts business," he said.

Beyond the Aurion Sportivo, Toyota is expected to release a Sportivo version of the next-generation Corolla due on sale this year (the current Corolla Sportivo was discontinued this year because of new emissions regulations), while models like Yaris, July’s all-new Camry and even HiLux will also be on TRD’s agenda.

"The Aurion definitely won’t be the only local Toyota to wear the TRD badge," said Mr Gardner. "Vehicles like the Corolla and HiLux are also under consideration," he said.

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