There's a fine line between track day use and track day abuse.
Toyota found itself at the center of an unfortunate controversy earlier this year. It denied a warranty claim for a blown GR86 engine after it came across an image of the driver taking his car racing. Following public outcry, Toyota backpedaled on its decision but made it clear that warranty claims would still be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
This topic needs to be dug up again because Toyota has now finally launched the highly anticipated GR Corolla in the USA. Like the GR86, the GR Corolla is built for track day use. If you visit the car's dedicated page on Toyota USA's website, the very first image is one of an angry Corolla going very sideways on a track.
It's therefore relevant to ask whether track hooning is covered by the GR Corolla's warranty.
There's no ambiguity about its purpose, which is what landed Toyota in hot water with the GR86 warranty case. Nearly all marketing material shows the car being driven on the limit, whether on the track or a gravel road. If you look at the marketing video below, you'll see what we mean. Catchphrases used in the video include "born on the track," "bred by champions," and "built for enthusiasts."
Buyers will track this car; there's no doubt about that. The Morizo Edition is more of a track day special, but we think even buyers of the Core and Circuit Edition GR Corollas will attempt a track day at least once, if not once a month.
The Drive asked the question at the GR Corolla media launch - which was held on a track, for the record. In response, Toyota said it "covers responsible driving at track days." That's a somewhat vague statement, but Toyota said it's not about avoiding costly warranty claims but rather "about individual responsibility."
When reached for comment, Toyota Motor North America told CarBuzz, "The Toyota GR brand is driven by enthusiasts and focused on delivering incredible experiences wherever the driver may take their vehicles, including the closed-course settings for which their vehicles are designed, so long as they are driven in a manner that falls within the terms of the warranty."
The representative also explained that "While the vehicle's warranty excludes damage that results from activities such as misuse and racing, simply participating in National Auto Sport Association (NASA) High Performance Driving Events (HPDE) or similar NASA instructional events provided complimentary to GR owners would not, in and of itself, void the warranty. Warranty claims are evaluated on a case-by-case basis."
Like every Toyota, the GR Corolla is covered by a standard three-year/36,000-mile comprehensive warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty. Add to this the fact that the engine was honed in Japan's Super Taikyu racing series and has seen use in the GR Yaris in global markets with relatively few incidents.
While Toyota is known for reliability, it's not immune to mistakes. The GR86 has shown cause for concern after the aforementioned warranty incident, as it appears the engines have a global problem in which sealant can block the oil pickup, causing oil starvation and a nasty, expensive bang.
We've also heard of isolated incidents with the GR Yaris's powertrain in racing series in South Africa in which the gearboxes have not performed as expected in hot race conditions.
We admire Toyota for covering responsible track day driving and encouraging individual responsibility, but these things are tough to define. We've seen all sorts at track days. One person is meticulous and inspects everything from the tire pressures to the windscreen washer fluid level. They know what the flags mean and what kind of behavior will get you kicked out of an event.
Other people start hooning the car before giving the engine and transmission sufficient time to warm up. These are usually the same people who get black-flagged for drifting, even though most track days have a strict no-drifting policy for obvious reasons.
We don't expect an easy answer with clear guidelines, but we think responsible driving and sticking to track day rules are closely aligned. That, and just essential preparation and maintenance. From Toyota's comments on the matter, it's abundantly clear that sanctioned track days are encouraged. But it's also clear that if you wail on your car without proper preparation, don't check your fluids, or run the correct fluids, then you'll likely be held accountable. As always, if you're going to place your vehicle under those strains, you should make sure it is best prepared to handle them.
Since this is a hot topic, let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.