In the mountains fringing Nagoya, just 30 minutes from its head office, Toyota is building a dynamic driving test center as part of a commitment to making its cars more fun to drive. Modeled on parts of the Nurburgring, one section of the new track is now up and running.
Toyota has earmarked an enormous ¥300 billion (US$2.7 billion) to the Toyota Technical Center Shimoyama, which is due to be completed in 2023. But this week the company announced that the first section of track – a "country road test course" cut into the mountainous forest – has been completed, with about 50 Toyota employees starting work at the site this past week.
The track would be a hoot if it was open to the public: 5.3 km (3.3 mi) worth of twisting turns and a 75-m (246-ft) elevation change between the highest and lowest points on the track. More than 70 percent of the 650-hectare (1,606 ac) site in Aichi prefecture remains as natural or re-planted forest, and it looks pretty damn spectacular.
Still to come are a few specialized test tracks that "replicate severe driving conditions," and a large eastern section dedicated to high-speed testing. Each has been designed with Japan's global customer base in mind, with sections of road developed to "replicate unique roads of the world." There will be as many as 3,300 workers on site when it's fully complete.
The whole project looks to be on an even grander scale than Porsche's recently completed "greatest hits" racetrack outside Leipzig. Certainly, the surroundings are far more spectacular. Could this help give rise to a new generation of wild, invigorating, performance-focused Toyotas? We certainly hope so, but if Toyota wants us to get excited about this, it's going to have to release better videos than the one below.
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