Sporty spice: Toyota Supra Wasabi teases the ‘ideal’ modified Supra

Toyota Supra Wasabi Concept

If, on the reveal of the new Toyota Supra, your thoughts were “close, but not hardcore enough”, well, Toyota might soon have you covered. Though not a market offering, Toyota is teasing faster Supras, the latest being with the GR Supra Wasabi Concept.

As you might expect from a car called Wasabi, it comes presented in a lurid green paint job. The new aero package has a very OEM look, but adds a level of aggression, particularly at the front splitter. The idea is that it’s a ‘vision of how the new GR Supra could adopt sanctioned, aftermarket products to enhance performance, without compromising its personality or functionality’. It’s one of many spiced-up Supras shown at this year’s SEMA show.

Toyota Supra Wasabi Concept

The wing and central twin-exit exhausts have a very ‘GT3’ feel. While that deletes the ‘afterburner’ style reversing light, they should improve exhaust flow. The wheels are new, with forged dual six-spoke items adding an aftermarket feel.

It sits lower on them, too. Ohlins Road & Track coilovers help those wheels fill the arches, and add track performance. They’re adjustable for height, compression and rebound. Behind the wheels is a new Brembo brake kit, adding six-pot calipers and massive 4-5mm discs up front.

Under the bonnet, although you won’t find aggressive upgrades to the engine itself, you will find a brace over it, between the front struts.

‘Public response carefully analysed, for the development of future products…’Toyota Supra Wasabi Concept

SEMA, of all car shows, is where you go to have a bit of fun. While this ‘Wasabi’ Supra is just that, it also serves an important purpose for the future, as do the other more extreme show cars.

Toyota will be watching very carefully to see how people react to its modified Supras. It wants feedback to help see where the Supra should go next. Whether that be a generic high-performance version, or a more skunkworks-esque ‘factory tuned’ route. It also wants customers to know that the Supra is tuner-friendly, and built with a buyer’s aftermarket creativity in mind.

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The Toyota Corolla will be hybrid-only from 2020

Toyota Corolla hybrid 2020

The new British-built Toyota Corolla range will be entirely hybrid from 2020. The 1.2-litre turbocharged engine is being discontinued, while the improved 1.8-litre and 2.0-litre petrol-electric hybrids remain.

Toyota Corolla hybrid 2020

New too for the Corolla range are the GR Sport and TREK specifications. The former is, as you might expect, a sporty trim level adding exterior aggression. Larger wheels and sharper styling on the outside are complemented by sporty seats and trim on the inside.

The Touring Sports TREK is a curious trim, with the marque partnering with the well-known bicycle manufacturer. It has an ‘SUV-influenced’ look, which should go down well with adventure types into their mountain biking. That means a 20mm raised ride height to match other rugged styling add-ons.

Toyota Corolla hybrid 2020

In the cabin, there are TREK-branded scuff plates and even wood trim to keep with the out-doorsy feel. Thrown in with the TREK on top of the ‘Design’ equipment level is an electric tailgate with a kick system. Useful if your arms are fully of muddy bikes.

Finally, tech-savvy buyers will be pleased to note that all Corollas from 2020 will come with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration as standard.

Would you pay £385,000 for a 20-year-old Toyota Supra?

Toyota Supra £385,000

The new Toyota Supra has been out long enough that even the BMW jokes in the YouTube comments have died down a bit. Still the question of whether it’s a worthy successor to the much-loved Mk4 burns on.

Regardless, you could find yourself paying a lot more for a 20 year-old example in showroom condition than a new one. This one in America is up for the equivalent of £385,000.

That means this A80 is around six-and-a-half times the price of a brand new A90 Supra. For that, you could have a Ferrari 812 Superfast and a decent amount of change. So what makes this Supra so special?

Toyota Supra £385,000

Well, according to the dealer that’s selling it, the car’s originality and colour help support its price. Originality isn’t ‘£385,000’ difficult, but it does have VIN-matching panels all round.

And the colour? Supposedly, just 24 Supra Turbos came in this smokey shade of silver, called ‘Quicksilver’, and it’s been verified as the original paint.

Also adding to that rareness and desirability is the fact that it has the golden combination to Supra fans: a manual gearbox, turbocharged engine and T-top roof. 

Toyota Supra £385,000

What isn’t very ‘£385,000’ – yes, we keep saying it – is the fact that it’s done 37,000 miles. Yes, that’s low, but it’s no garage queen with dust on the valve stems and mileage in single figures. This thing has seen use.

Then we swing back to that originality question, because for this money, it has to be pixel perfect, and this Supra technically isn’t. Its lip at the front has been finished in Quicksilver, as has the valve cover. Tasteful, but not original spec.

So is it worth the money? To the right buyer, perhaps. Should that buyer expect a return on his or her investment? That we are considerably less sure on.

Hydrogen Toyota taxis have topped 1 million miles

Toyota Mirai 1,000,000 miles London

A fleet of 27 hydrogen-powered Toyota taxis has covered a cumulative one million miles, with many more to come.

After a successful two-car trial in 2015, Green Tomato Cars took on a further 25 Toyota Mirais for private hire in London. And the company will add 25 more of the hydrogen taxis to its fleet this month. Toyota Mirai 1,000,000 miles London

The new Mirais will make for the largest zero-emissions passenger fleet in the United Kingdom.

Over the course of one million miles, the original 27 cars have saved 206 tonnes of CO2. That’s 7.6 tonnes per car, or around four times each Mirai’s own weight (calculation based on the average 120.1 g/km CO2 emitted by new cars).

Green Tomato put the Mirai to work as its Zero Emission Executive vehicle. Around 2,000 corporate clients have been served, carrying more than 80,000 passengers. Each car covers around 120 miles per day, with each journey averaging between eight and 10 miles.

Toyota Mirai 1,000,000 miles London

“We’ve been really impressed by the performance of our Mirai fleet and are very proud to have clocked up the magic one million zero-emission miles in these unique cars,” said Jonny Goldstone, founder and CEO of Green Tomato Cars.

“Our passengers love them because it means they can travel as responsibly as possible, and so do our drivers. Running costs are comparable with a Prius and re-fuelling takes the same time as a conventional petrol car. We’re rolling out the next 25 Mirais onto our fleet right now and hopefully there will be still more to come.”

Toyota Mirai 1,000,000 miles London

Overall, there are 137 Mirais on UK roads, with the overall mileage figure nearing two million miles. However, there are just 11 suitable filling stations at present, with each refining hydrogen via water electrolysis on-site. A new station is due to open at Gatwick soon.

The slow uptake hasn’t stopped Toyota from continuing its journey with hydrogen power, however. Its next-generation concept for the Mirai will debut at the Tokyo Motor Show, and boasts some much-needed extra style.

Opinion: the Copen GR Sport is the sports car we need

Daihatsu Copen GR Sport

Life is full of disappointments. Like discovering an absence of Chomp bars in a Heroes variety pack. Or arriving at a pub with locked doors after a 12-mile walk. Or realising that there’s little chance of buying a Copen GR Sport.

Toyota Gazoo Racing – a company most famous for making the Yaris appealing – has turned its attention to the tiny Daihatsu Copen.

The opening paragraph atop the press release is wonderfully Japanese: “A new lightweight feel sports car combining the joy of the open air with the Toyota Gazoo Racing delight of handling at will.“

In other words, Gazoo Racing’s wizards have focused on body rigidity and suspension tuning by adding a front brace, changing the shape of the centre brace and tweaking the spring rate.

Further upgrades include tuned electric power steering, aerodynamic tweaks, BBS alloys and Recaro seats. Basically, the kind of things you’d demand from a lightweight sports car.

The intercooled, turbocharged 660cc engine is unchanged, and you have a choice of a five-speed manual gearbox or seven-speed CVT with paddle-shifter.

Sounds perfect, especially when you consider that it costs the equivalent of £17,500 – about the same as a mid-range Ford Fiesta. At least it would be perfect if we could buy the blimmin‘ thing.

‘Handling at will’

Copen GR Sport

But you can’t, because the Copen GR Sport is reserved for the Japanese domestic market. Boo, hiss, etc. No “handling at will” delights for you, Minasama.

Still, at least we’ve got a plentiful supply of affordable, lightweight sports cars to choose from. Only we haven’t. Not today.

Fiat’s Mazda MX-5-based MX-5 rival has bitten the dust, leaving the Mazda MX-5 as the sole flag-bearer for affordable roofless fun. These days you need to keep your top on to enjoy maximum thrills, although the Alpine A110 – the current king of the lightweights – costs upwards of £48,000.

Even the Lotus Elise – the former benchmark for cheap(ish) thrills – will set you back at least £42,000 in its rawest form. A lightweight gem for a heavyweight price.

Cast your mind back 20 years to the summer of 1999. You were spoilt for choice: Alfa Romeo Spider, BMW Z3, Caterham 21, Fiat Barchetta, Honda S2000, Lotus Elise, Mazda MX-5, MGF and Porsche Boxster were just some of the sports cars bugging you for your pre-millennium pound.

An unlikely Hethel-built Vauxhall sports car was also waiting in the wings, making this a golden period for wind-in-your-hair joy. Meanwhile, the Ford Puma was acting like an appetiser for the main course – serving up front-wheel-drive delights to prepare drivers for the joy of rear-wheel-drive heaven.

How many Ford Puma owners spent time on the nursery slopes before tackling the black runs offered by the preeminent sports car manufacturers?

Million-dollar paperweights

Copen GR Sport interior

Where are the affordable sports cars of 2019? Hardly a week goes by without a carmaker unveiling another unattainable and inaccessible hypercar that you can’t afford, can’t buy and can’t drive. Million-dollar paperweights destined for air-conditioned basements and the auction catalogues of 2029.

We’ve allowed this to happen. By falling at the heels of crossovers and SUVs, we’ve sent sports cars spiralling into oblivion, rendering them uneconomically unviable for many manufacturers. Christ knows how lucky we are that Renault had the balls to launch the Alpine A110, but where’s the Copen GR Sport equivalent for the UK market?

Don’t hold your breath. Even Mazda MX-5 sales are down nine percent in Europe over the first half of 2019, so it would take a brave marketing department to propose the launch of a sub £20,000 sports car in the UK. 

Saying you can have fun in a small SUV is like saying you can enjoy telephone hold music. Both are there to serve a purpose, but you wouldn’t want to spend longer than you have to enduring them. The Copen GR Sport looks like fun even when it’s standing still.

“Toyota Gazoo Racing will continue to make efforts to create attractive cars for car fans through dialogues with customers, utilising the voices of many car enthusiasts to ‘create ever-better cars‘,” says Toyota.

Open a dialogue with UK buyers, Toyota. We’re ready for your ‘ever-better cars‘.

First look: stunning hydrogen-powered Toyota Mirai, due in 2020

Toyota Mirai

Toyota has revealed a concept version of its forthcoming hydrogen-powered Mirai, due to debut at the Tokyo Motor Show.

The second-generation Mirai promises a 30 percent greater range. And it’s a certified knockout to look at, too.

The Concept is apparently close to the production version, on sale in Japan next year – and in other markets soon afterwards.

2020 Mirai – ‘A car people will want to own’

Toyota Mirai

Toyota has departed from the slightly awkward design of 2014’s original Mirai with this sporty second-gen saloon. 

It has cultivated a ‘sleek and powerful look’ using ‘low lines, elegant proportions, taut bodywork and large, 20-inch diameter wheels’. Truthfully, it could easily be badged a Lexus and wear an ‘F’ on the back. The new Mirai aims to show eco-friendliness doesn’t necessarily come at the expense of style.

“I want customers to say ‘I chose the Mirai not just because it’s an FCEV, but because I simply wanted this car; it just happens to be an FCEV,” explained chief engineer Yoshikazu Tanaka.

“We have pursued the goal of making a car that customers will feel they want to drive all time, a car that has an emotional and attractive design and the kind of dynamic and responsive performance that can bring a smile to the driver’s face.”

Inside the new Mirai

Toyota Mirai

It’s no good having a drop-dead exterior without the cabin to back it up. As such, the inside of the Mirai concept borrows more than a little from stablemate Lexus. A large 12.3-inch centre display and wrap-around instrument panel blends high-tech appointment with driver focus.

Given the new Mirai’s low-slung silhouette, it might surprise you to learn that it’s more practical than the last car. It now seats five, rather than four.

Toyota is also targeting a 30 percent increase in driving range. This should be achievable through larger on-board hydrogen tanks and improvements in the fuel-cell system. The previous car was good for around 310 miles. Add 30 percent? An impressive 413 miles. Have that, Porsche Taycan.

Driving into the future

Toyota Mirai

Toyota says the Mirai will have ‘light and easy handling on winding roads’. It also focused on the car’s throttle response, particularly its linearity, and a feeling of power ‘at all speeds’.

The new Mirai is a bit of a shocker, in the best sense. The last car tried to sell us hydrogen power, with style as the sacrifice. The new car looks hugely desirable, regardless of what is under the bonnet.

Toyota builds the 10 millionth Land Cruiser

Toyota Land Cruiser 10 million sales

Toyota has built its 10 millionth Land Cruiser. The landmark vehicle rolled out of the factory at the end of August.

Since its launch as the Toyota ‘Jeep BJ’ in 1951, the Land Cruiser has cemented itself as the 4×4 for off-roaders who aren’t swayed by fashion, badges or soft-touch plastics.

If you want to drive into the jungle, take a Land Rover. If you want to drive out again, take a Land Cruiser.

It’s a mischievous phrase, but the Land Cruiser just gets on with being formidable without the need for fanfare, fireworks or celebrity endorsements.

Today, the Land Cruiser is sold in around 170 countries and regions, with the Middle East by far and away the biggest market. Europe is a distant second, followed by Oceania, Asia and the United States.

In the army now

New Toyota Land Cruiser in the UK

The journey started in 1950 when Toyota was commissioned to build four-wheel-drive trucks for the U.S. military in support of South Korea.

Japan, which was still under American occupation, was given the green light to build vehicles similar to the Willys Jeep. Toyota presented a prototype to the National Police Reserve (NPR), but the contract was awarded to Mitsubishi.

Undeterred, Toyota developed the ‘BJ Jeep’ – the initials referred to the B-series engine and Jeep – with the aim of securing private customers and tapping into the export market.

To demonstrate its capabilities, Toyota took a vehicle to the Shinto temple atop Mount Atago and drove the pilgrim route to the sixth station on Mount Fuji. The result: Toyota replaced Mitsubishi as the official vehicle supplier to the NPR.

Five versions sprung from the BJ platform: mobile communications, touring liaison, fire fighter and two pick-ups. Series production began in 1953, with the ‘BJ Jeep’ tag dropped in favour of the Land Cruiser name in 1954.

Whatever you want

Toyota Land Cruiser hits sales landmark

The rest is history, with the Toyota Land Cruiser hitting the million sales mark in 1975. A year earlier, official sales started in the UK.

Amazingly, the 40 series Land Cruiser, which arrived in 1960, is still in widespread use today, some 50 years after they were manufactured. 

These aren’t 4x4s built for the school run – the Land Cruiser would laugh in the face of the ‘SUV’ tag. Here are a few examples of how the Land Cruiser is being used around the world:

  • Africa: to provide humanitarian support
  • Burundi: to carry malaria-infected children to hospital
  • Uganda: to transport patients to clinics
  • Australia: for use in zinc and copper mines
  • Costa Rica: to harvest carrots at altitudes of 3,500 metres
  • Kingston upon Thames: to take Tabitha and Tarquin to school

In the UK, Toyota Land Cruiser prices start from £34,750. Still want that #OMGNEWDEFENDER?

Toyota car production will pause a day after Brexit

Toyota production to pause in the UK after Brexit

Toyota UK is hoping to mitigate supply issues that could arise immediately after Brexit by pausing car production for one day.

“We will have a production pause on the first day of Brexit, which is Friday 1st November 2019,” said a spokesman.

“Then we will restart production on the Monday and the Tuesday.”

Toyota Corolla

In spite of the closure, Toyota doesn’t expect any volume to be lost due to the factory’s down-time. 

It remains unclear exactly what the effects of Brexit – be it with a deal or not – will be.

“We don’t know what the actual situation will be like. We’ve already pulled forward a couple of days of extra inventory which we will then use on the Monday and Tuesday and we will have to see what the situation is after that,” continued the spokesman.

Toyota Corolla production in Burnaston

UK automotive has been one of the most critical sectors of Brexit, with the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) claiming that no deal with the EU would be like ‘death by a thousand cuts’ for homegrown industry.

A recent report has suggested that the total cost of a no-deal Brexit could top £4 billion per year.

Toyota Corolla production in Burnaston

Toyota production comprises eight percent of the 1.52 million cars built annually in Britain.

It commenced making its new Corolla at the Burnaston factory in Derbyshire this year.

How to prevent your catalytic converter being stolen

how to stop catalytic converter theft

Thieves are stealing catalytic converters from cars, with the Toyota Prius being a particular target.

Videos on social media show thieves jacking the Toyotas up, sliding underneath them and detaching the ‘cats’ in broad daylight.

Here’s our guide to protecting your car from opportunist theft..

Why are thieves targeting the Prius?

Original second-generation Prius catalytic converters contain a large amount of platinum. A replacement item can cost more than £1,400 (including fitting), so it clearly has value to thieves.

So what can be done to stop them, or protect your car against having the cat removed?

Fitting cat lockshow to stop catalytic converter theft

Toyota was commendably quick in its response to the problem, releasing what it calls a ‘Catloc’. This physically covers the exposed catalyst components, protecting against opportunist theft.

The Catlocs are approved by the police and security experts Thatcham, so there’s added reassurance if the fact they come from Toyota itself isn’t enough.

For £200 (including VAT) and with a five-year warranty, you get some peace of mind. It’s also the best way of protecting against cat theft when you’re away from home.

Tactical parking

Simply changing how you park can help, too. If you park at the roadside, positioning your car close to a tall kerb could impede thieves’ efforts.

If you’re off-road, parking close to a wall or blocking your car in at night could help.

Away-from-home, overnight secure car parks are a good bet, although the best option is to have a garage.

Aftermarket alarmshow to stop catalytic converter theft

There have been reports of thieves somehow disabling manufacturer car alarms.

A secondary aftermarket alarm could, therefore, be the key to defending your car against all kinds of thieves, be they after the car itself or the cat.

Keeping watch

While surveillance is generally used for tracking down thieves once they’ve acted, it also serves as a worthwhile deterrent.

Thieves, while brazen, will be less likely to take the risk if they are being watched by security cameras.

Guide Dogs charity gets a lesson in efficiency from Toyota

Guide Dog in the back of a Toyota Prius

In 2017, Toyota GB employees selected Guide Dogs as the company’s chosen charity, with the carmaker signing up for a three-year partnership.

Two years on, Toyota is, er… taking a lead role at the Guide Dogs’ harness workshop near Leamington Spa, where an average of 1,500 harnesses are produced every year.

A team led by Nick Pearn, senior specialist from the Toyota Lean Management Centre (TLMC), reviewed every aspect of the production and distribution of the harnesses.

They observed that good ‘kaizen‘ principles are being used, with a recent reduction in the time it takes to produce 30 harnesses from 653 to 609 minutes.

However, Toyota made a series of recommendations, resulting in zero parts shortages and improved efficiencies. The result: guide dog owners would never be kept waiting thanks to a 24-hour turnaround on new orders.

Toyota’s system proved so successful, it was rolled out to other products, including handles, collars and leads.

‘A fresh perspective’

Toyota supports Guide Dog charity

David Pryke, workshop manager at Guide Dogs, said: “It’s been really useful to work with Toyota and gain a fresh perspective of our harness making system.

The Toyota measures led to a 66 percent reduction in inventory levels, reducing valuable time and costs. These significant efficiency improvements can instead be invested in other valuable areas to improve lives of people living with sight loss.”

While this is good news for Guide Dogs, for us it’s a chance to embed a video of Banjo the Toyota GB guide dog playing at the National Breeding Centre.

Warning: this video contains scenes of a delightful nature which some viewers might find satisfying. The patented cute o’meter is reading off the scale.