Can TMG become to Toyota what AMG is to Mercedes-Benz?
The TS-650 is proof-of-concept to see if TMG could tune a road car. What they have created is something very exciting indeed.
The heart and soul of Toyota motorsports has been in Germany since the early '70s in the form of TMG, and it has provided the Japanese manufacturer with a foothold in everything from WRC to Formula 1. However, after Toyota's departure from Formula 1, the future of TMG has been uncertain. Without a regular series to compete in, what would become of TMG?
One option would be for TMG to become to Toyota what AMG is to Mercedes-Benz. Take a stock car, and turn it into a much more exciting, faster, and more dynamic version. The M Division of Toyota, if you will.
To begin to see this is as a viable direction, TMG has knocked together an example of what a TMG tuned car could be. It's called the TMG TS-650. That 650 refers to the output of the engine, 650ps (641 bhp) which is a 68 percent boost over the power of the Lexus LS 460 on which it's based.
The impressive stats don't end there: torque goes up 54 percent to 569 lb. ft., the top speed touches on 200mph, and over a second has been shaved off the LS 460's 0-60mph time.
I took the TS-650 out on the track to see what it was like, and all that kept going through my head was that it didn't feel like a Lexus, it felt like something more. If you were to drive it blindfolded, something we don't recommend at XCAR, you could be forgiven for never guessing you were behind the wheel of a 2-tonne executive saloon. The brakes come straight out of the LFA supercar, and the only way of stopping quicker would be to put it into a wall. The handling was impressive for a car of its size, and it left me with a genuinely altered image of Lexus.
Since the LFA blew the minds of petrolheads across the world, the question of whether it was a one off or whether we would forever have to reconsider our opinions of Lexus has lingered. Take the fact that Toyota, Lexus' parent company, is taking the sports car market seriously again (hello, GT 86), the proposition of a hard-core tuning division looks all the more likely. If the TS-650 is anything to go by it could mean a new, exciting chapter for Lexus and maybe even Toyota as well.