Akio Toyoda is known for having a hands-on approach when it comes to performance vehicles. Toyota’s former president and CEO has even taken part in numerous racing events under the “Morizo” pseudonym. Currently the company’s chairman, he is still actively involved. If you need proof, here’s the 67-year-old enthusiast driving a GR Yaris, but be warned that it doesn’t end well.

In December 2023, he crashed a rally version of the hot hatch while tackling the Shimoyama course in Japan. It’s located within the Toyota Technical Center Shimoyama which went fully operational in April 2024. This is the R&D facility where the inside looks like the Nürburgring pit lane. And yes, Toyoda is behind the wheel, with nine-time Japan rally champion Norihiko Katsuta as the co-pilot.

Recently released onboard footage shows what happened after the rally-bred car hit a mound, causing the GR Yaris to overturn. Norihiko Katsuta was the first to free himself from the crashed car before Toyoda managed to get out of the wreckage. The all-wheel-drive performance hatchback ended with its wheels facing the sky. Thankfully, both escaped without any injuries and lived to tell the story at the R&D center’s inauguration.

Toyota chose to publicly display the heavily damaged GR Yaris during the opening ceremony of its new facility. The idea behind this decision is to show that the company tests cars until they break. Usually, the damaged vehicles are fixed and undergo additional testing. Toyota made an exception for this one.

Toyoda is a driving force behind the proliferation of GR cars and has been seen in some special models such as a one-off GRMN Century. A Suzuki Jimny owner, the former head honcho at the world’s largest automaker insists development of internal combustion engines must continue. He argues EVs will never exceed a 30-percent share.

That three-cylinder turbo engine inside the pocket rocket and the GR Corolla is about to go in a Lexus as the LBX small crossover will inherit the 1.6-liter unit with around 300 horsepower.

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Last Update: June 11, 2024