Toyota gives the country’s best-selling sedan its sportiest groove
AS THE PERENNIAL automotive leader in the country, you could say that whatever Toyota does, and its underlying ramifications, will be big. Still, it’s not possible to overprocess last week’s launch of the Toyota Vios GR-S variant.
With the GR-S standing for Gazoo Racing Sport, this new variant more formally welcomes a new era for Toyota Motor Philippines Corp. (TMP).
Just what is Gazoo Racing? Well, this brand essentially embodies Toyota’s motorsports aspirations and involvement of more than 60 years. The Japan-headquartered global car maker says that “roads build people and cars,” therefore it faces head-on the challenges posed by pushing the envelope through races “under the most extreme conditions” to develop “ever-better cars.” Toyota Motor Corp. President Akio Toyoda himself is the Gazoo Racing master driver — directly involved in the mission to realize progressively improved vehicles. “He continues to take the wheel to hone his special knack for building the kind of vehicles he loves,” said the company in toyotagazooracing.com.
The Philippine debut of the Gazoo Racing marque happened back in July 2019, with the unveiling of the mighty Toyota GR Supra sports car — yes, that prefix means Gazoo Racing — and there remains no better ambassador for GR than that gorgeous pinnacle of the Toyota line.
But today, you can say that there is no more accessible GR vehicle than the Vios GR-S. What better way to make the marque resonate in more people than to make its vaunted values easier to achieve? The Toyota Vios, of course, has long been the lord of the sedan domain. It remains the country’s best-selling sedan — moving more than 340,000 units over 18 years and four generations. In 2020, the Vios led the way for TMP again with 29,290 vehicles sold (see chart).
This year, TMP expects to grow that number anywhere from 30,000 to 35,000 units. If everything happens as planned, 1.66% of Vios sales will be GR-S variants.
In a release, TMP said that “the motorsports-inspired reinvention… infuses upgraded design and new features to the country’s most-preferred sedan.” TMP President Atsuhiro Okamoto introduced the Vios GR-S as “the country’s most trusted model, injected with GR spirit.” He added, “Our goal with the Vios GR-S is to transform your reliable everyday car into a Vios that gives a more pleasurable drive, whether on track or on the road. The Vios GR-S will bring next-level thrill in your everyday drive.”
The “Gazoo-fied” Vios gets a more aggressive-looking bumper and grille, an aerokit, and spoiler. Inside, is a sporty, leather-wrapped steering wheel with red stitching. The same look is assumed by the shift lever and knob. The semi-bucket seats, which affords better support, also get the distinct red thread and are finished with a suede/synthetic leather blend cover.
The proudly Pinoy-built Vios GR-S stretches 42mm longer than the other grades, but is similar in width (1,730mm) and height (1,475mm). The familiar 1.5-liter 2NR-FE engine throbs under the hood, delivering 107ps (at 6,000rpm) and 140Nm (at 4,200rpm), but is now mated to a 10-speed CVT transmission. The Vios GR-S receives seven SRS air bags and clearance sonars. The car’s infotainment system features smartphone app access plus Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility.
TMP First Vice-President for Marketing Sherwin Chualim underscored during the launch event that the Vios GR-S signals the “beginning of the expansion of the Toyota Gazoo brand” which Filipinos can expect to feel “more and more in products, motorsports, and experiences.” He added: “This is our goal this year — to strengthen the GR brand locally.”
Meanwhile, in response to a question from “Velocity,” TMP Senior Vice-President for Marketing Jose Maria Atienza said that the continued entry of GR will eventually mean the end of the old Toyota Racing Development (TRD) brand which has until today encapsulated Toyota’s high-performance aspirations.
“This is a phase-out. We are transitioning from TRD to GR,” he revealed. “(The Vios GR-S launch) is just one of the initial phases. We will roll this out to our dealerships with GR-themed areas.” Expect GR merchandise, accessories, and lifestyle items to appear at showrooms as well.
The Toyota Vios 1.5 GR-S will be available in all of TMP’s dealerships across the country starting today. The Super Red and black models are priced at P1.02 million, while a White Pearl Crystal Shine unit goes for P1.035 million.
The company is also “looking forward to promote Toyota Gazoo Racing products, services, and experiences in the country.” The company is gearing to restage its one-make race, now named the Toyota Gazoo Racing-Vios Cup, by July “provided it is deemed safe by authorities to hold events of such nature.”
Additionally, TMP will hold the second season of the successful GR GT Cup Asia-Philippines, which pits e-racers in a virtual tiff via online tracks. For more information, visit TMP’s official website at www.toyota.com.ph and follow its official social media pages at ToyotaMotorPhilippines and ToyotaGazooRacingPH (Facebook and Instagram), @ToyotaMotorPH (Twitter), and Toyota PH (Viber and Telegram).
TMP adjusts Vios pricing
ALONG WITH the launch of the Toyota Vios GR-S, Toyota Motor Philippines Corp. (TMP) also made some important announcements regarding its Vios range.
The Vios XE variant and those above it now come standard with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility and “Bluetooth switches on the steering wheel.” The seat patterns of G, XLE, and E variants are given a redesign; the XE variant receives an additional two speakers. Meanwhile, the XLE and E grades feature a new alloy wheel. Pricing changes on the Vios lineup are highlighted by an P86,000 price decrease on the G grades.