Toyota brought its Sienna R-Tuned study, which while keeping its stock powertrain, beat a V8-powered Camaro SS on the track, to the Las Vegas SEMA Show.
We know you’re curious why on earth did Toyota modify a minivan for track-racing (excluding the fact that SEMA is an event that beckons for radical, out-of-the-box projects). Well, that’s because no-one anticipated it – according to the car maker itself. A very compelling argument, to say the least.
Toyota believes that people expect a Lexus LF-A to go fast around the track, but never a Sienna, and their perception of how much fun you can have driving a minivan will “dramatically change” when they see this concept. It may sound like a bogus, made-up marketing stunt, but apparently, the 3.5-litre V6-powered minivan can hold its own on the track (against some powerful competitors) with moderate powertrain tweaking.
Toyota teamed up with performance shop DG-Spec to transform a stock Sienna SE “Swagger Wagon”, in the R-Tuned Concept, and the result is admirable.
Equipped with performance tires, wheels and brakes, double-adjustable shocks with racing springs and a clutch-type limited slip diff, the Sienna outpaced, according to Toyota, a 6.2-litre V8-powered Camaro SS at the Streets of Willow Springs, turning a 1:27 lap time (a full second faster around the 1.7-mile sports car course than the Camaro), with the stock engine and the stock six-speed automatic transmission.
But how can a minivan be faster than a 426-horsepower sports car? Well, usually with tuner-grade improvements, fine-tweaking and customized chassis setups, but Andrew Lund, chief engineer for the Sienna at Toyota Technical Center, has a simpler explanation:
“We looked at the overall dynamics of the vehicle, and made adjustments to make the vehicle handle and brake better. The Sienna R-Tuned simply carries more speed through the corners. When we produced the Sienna SE, we started moving in the direction of more sportiness beyond what you would find in a family hauler. With the Sienna R-Tuned, we wanted to see if we could create a vehicle that would push the limits even farther. We definitely proved that it’s possible.”
So, it seems that even soccer moms now have an excuse to go fast.