YotaTech Drives the 600 Horsepower Toyota C-HR R-Tuned Race Car
‘Insane’ doesn’t begin to describe this very different Toyota SEMA build.
Before we really get going here, let’s talk about SEMA for a second. SEMA (the Specialty Equipment Market Association) is the most extreme car show in the world, and, in theory, the ultimate platform to showcase what a brand, shop, or company is up to. Additionally, it’s also one of the most fun and rowdy parties to hit the Vegas strip. Representing brands usually put their all into their SEMA builds, offering the best that they have to offer. Surely, there is no better place for exposure and brand awareness than SEMA.
However, sometimes the end results can be less than stellar. There have been some truly slap-dash, last-minute efforts that have made it onto the showroom floor, held together with nothing more than hopes, dreams, bubblegum, and some zip ties. We counted over 20 vehicles at last year’s show that either didn’t move under their own power, or would have been dangerous to do so. So, a lot of flash, but a little bit less substance.
In other words, SEMA showcases the best, sometimes the worst, and definitely the most inspired and craziest builds in the industry. So, you can imagine my surprise when Toyota rang me up and invited me to drive their SEMA project build — at a race track, no less. I debated asking “Are you sure?” but thought better of it, and agreed.
This is not what I was expecting, at all.
The standard C-HR is an entry-level compact SUV with funky, modern styling and an emphasis on being easy to park in big cities. Throwing 600 horsepower at one has taken that cool styling and put a decidedly aggressive spin to it.
What is the C-HR R-Tuned?
Three years ago Toyota showcased its sense of humor by asking how fast their Sienna minivan could go. They modified a production Sienna into a sports car-beating track machine, known as the Sienna R-Tuned. It was the company’s 2015 SEMA build and it caused quite the ruckus after putting some established sports cars in their place on race tracks around the country. The Sienna R-Tuned was a joint effort between Toyota and DG-spec, a race preparation shop unlike most others.
Now, Toyota and DG-spec are back with a similar goal: Take the new Toyota C-HR and go fast. Really fast.
The C-HR R-Tuned is Toyota’s 2017 SEMA build, and the company has been opening the floodgates since SEMA to give people up close access to the R-Tuned to see what it’s all about.
Visually, the C-HR R-Tuned screams “Look at me, I’m a race car!” but, in reality, it shares many similarities to the regular car. Dan Gardner, the DG of DG-spec, emphasized that this started off life as a regular production car and actually retains many original parts. It sits several inches lower than a standard C-HR, thanks to adjustable MCS coil-over suspension. Up front there is an air dam, mated to a large, carbon fiber front splitter. A carbon fiber hood, produced by Kaminari, is also present. Out back, a multi-element rear wing is utilized. It is trunk-mounted with cross bracing to minimize flex on those very high risers. Remember, if it’s not at the roof line, or above, rear wings aren’t nearly as effective. Mated to the carbon fiber wing is a Gurney flap, with “Dan Gurney Tribute” etched onto it.