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JDM Tuning Companies Embrace the Toyota GR Lineup at Tokyo Auto Salon
BY Sam Du //
March 9, 2023
@duspeed
Photography: Sam Du
@duspeed
  • Last January, Tokyo Auto Salon returned and welcomed back foreigners since enforcing COVID travel restrictions in 2020.
  • In our three previous TAS articles, Pit+Paddock reported on the top 10 underrated builds, Super GT reveals, and the Nissan Z.
  • With the new Toyota GR Corolla hitting the market, JDM tuners were eager to get their hands on one and display new parts for the all-wheel drive hatchback.
  • It was evident the GR86 was still a sports coupe that shouldn’t be forgotten about, with standout demo vehicles debuted by Voltex Racing and Varis.
  • The GR Yaris and Land Cruiser GR Sport were also two popular vehicles that, unfortunately, U.S. enthusiasts can only dream about.

Tokyo Auto Salon is the first major auto show of the year. It takes place every January and offers enthusiasts a glimpse into what is hot and trending within the Japanese aftermarket. In our last TAS story, we dove into the new Nissan Z, which was undoubtedly the most popular car of the show; however, if you look at which OEM that tuners were paying the most attention to, then it would have to be Toyota and their growing lineup of Gazoo Racing (GR) performance sports cars.

Toyota Gazoo Racing was established in 2007, but it wasn’t a relevant brand in the States for a while. Gazoo Racing remained the moniker under which Toyota competed in pro racing series such as WRC, WEC, BTCC, and the Nürburgring 24 Hours. It wasn’t until 2019 — when the return of the Supra was surprisingly launched under the name “GR Supra” — that Gazoo Racing and “GR” became a household name. Today, there are four GR vehicles in the Toyota lineup, three of them now available in the U.S. As you can imagine, the U.S. is one of the biggest markets for aftermarket parts, so it was a no-brainer why JDM companies at Tokyo Auto Salon were eager to show off their latest tuning programs for vehicles like the all-wheel-drive, 300hp GR Corolla.

BLITZ GR COROLLA 

According to my sources, the 2023 GR Corolla wasn’t even available yet in Japan at the time of Auto Salon; however, Toyota supports major tuners with early production vehicles, the most interesting version being from Blitz. I don’t care for the loud graphics, but it was the very aggressive carbon front splitter and rear wing that caught my attention. The splitter extends a few inches out from the bottom of the front bumper, which makes it feel reminiscent of the EVS Tuning front lip on my personal GR Supra. The rear wing features large carbon endplates which attach to the glass and OEM wing (a nice and clean touch). Finally, a small, single-tip exhaust exits the center of the diffuser giving a rally vibe to the hatch.

GR COROLLA AERO CONCEPT

Nestled deep inside the Toyota booth, was this GR Corolla Aero Concept. To my surprise, this isn’t the first time we’re seeing this aero kit. It was on display on the Cusco demo car at the 2022 SEMA Show. Your opinion can change a lot when you don’t have a hideous livery covering the car, which is why this concept looked stunning in its OEM Heavy Metal grey paint. My favorite part is the rear which deletes the controversial triple-tip exhaust for a nicely spec’d dual titanium system from Grow Design and Fujitsubo. The redesigned rear diffuser also hugs the tips perfectly giving off a very premium feel that this flagship hatchback deserves.

OTHER NOTABLE GR COROLLA

Two other cool GR Corollas that were worth mentioning included the Yokohama Rubber Japan and Ogura Racing Clutch demo cars. While not advertised, we suspect both hatches wore the same lip kit as the Aero Concept and Cusco car. The Yokohama build is rocking a set of Advan RG-4 wheels following its all-white theme, and the Ogura vehicle is a Morizo Edition. The U.S. is slated to receive 200 units of the track-spec Corolla, while in Japan it’s even rarer with only 70 units allocated.

VOLTEX RACING GR86

After taking a four-year hiatus, Voltex Racing returned to Auto Salon with an absolute knockout of a GR86! The widebody aero program flowed together smoothly with its 40mm front and 50mm rear fenders, carbon side skirts, carbon diffuser, and a full front bumper replacement. The hood is still a prototype, but GR86 and BRZ owners can begin placing their orders for the kit which will run about $9,000.

VARIS GR86

Tested at Tsukuba Circuit, awarded at Tokyo Auto Salon. The Varis x Original Runduce supercharged GR86 took home some hardware for its stunning carbon widebody aero, which couldn’t have looked any better front and center in its booth.

VARIS GR YARIS

Varis was making a lot of noise this year. Near the back of its booth was this GR Yaris that sports the new Kamikaze widebody kit. Varis considers it a “Street Version”, but it looks like it’s ready to fly!

OTHER NOTABLE GR YARIS

Laile/Beatrush and Garage Vary both exhibited a pair of GR Yaris builds that were worth stopping to take a photo of. The Laile/Beatrush vehicle looked the part of a ready-to-rock time attack car while the Garage Vary Yaris sported a forged carbon hood and an interesting red stripe. It arguably appeals more to a street audience.

LAND CRUISER GR SPORT

The Land Cruiser is one Toyota that we wish was still offered here in the U.S. Powered by a 409hp, 480 lb-ft twin-turbo V6, the GR Sport is the sportiest trim level available with a sleeker front grille, locking differentials, and off-road-ready suspension. It’s not a true GR vehicle but looks the part. Car Style Japan and Weed brought out two clean rigs, which were my favorites of the show.


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