With the Toyota GR Corolla arriving at showrooms as you read this, the Gazoo Racing brand is picking up a lot of steam. Toyota even released a series of exciting ads full of tire smoke and classic Aichi sports cars welcoming it into the Gazoo family. GR is being positioned as the pinnacle of Toyota performance, and with siblings like the GR86 and GR Supra, who could argue? Many mainstream brands don't even offer one choice for enthusiasts, much less three.
Elsewhere in the world, however, the relatively young GR label is already being pimped out to makeover otherwise pedestrian cars. The latest example of this is Europe's 2022 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid GR Sport. It gets some styling and suspension tweaks and the imprimatur of the GR badge to spice up the capable but commonplace mid-size crossover.
Toyota is offering the GR Sport package on both hybrid-electric and plug-in hybrid versions of the RAV4. Shell out for it and you'll get wheel arch cladding, side trim, and trunk garnish in gloss black instead of flat. A honeycomb pattern in the grille and fog light housings, as well as a chin spoiler — black to denote the standard hybrid and gunmetal on the PHEV — add to the visual punch. Gloss black-finished 19-inch wheels are said to be Toyota's first made from a new line-cutting process that gives each spoke a thin, machined pinstripe contouring its spokes.
Inside, GR logos can be found on the headrests, floormats, and steering wheel. Silver contrast stitching and gunmetal trim lend the cockpit a sporting feel, while the animal-free power memory seats employ a suede insert design common on sports models.
Toyota says the suspension has been tuned with slightly stiffer shocks and springs for improved handling. There's no mention of added power. But that's more than can be said for many other faux performance packages from other manufacturers like BMW's M Sport and Mercedes' AMG-Line.
To be fair the PHEV, known as the RAV4 Prime in the U.S., already has 306 horsepower, so perhaps this is a way to finally give it the looks to match its might. There's no word on whether the RAV4 Hybrid GR Sport — or any GR Sport models for that matter — might come to the U.S. For now, Toyota USA seems content to keep the GR name purely to the true factory hot rods.
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