If you were like us while growing up, you would have spent hours talking about the mystical hyper performance versions of normal road cars. For sure, the names like the BMW M3 or the AMG's from Mercedes or those Quattro RS versions from Audi's stable would have been in your dream garage lists front runners, and might just still be. The idea of taking a normal road going car and making it a go faster version is not new and has been a passion of true blue petrolheads since long.
Motorsports have always have had a big role in establishing reputation for any automobile manufacturer. Like the old saying 'Race on Sunday and sell on Monday' goes, having a performance arm inhouse that can tune the normal offerings into more racier higher spec models helped manufacturers in tapping the sub-segment where the customers searched for cars that could do the usual daily routine but could turn into a track scorcher on weekends, there by combining two traits into a single car.
These performance arms were to provide a link between the racing arms and the passenger vehicle arms of the companies where a few hotter higher spec performance models were to be brought for the interested customers. Few world known performance arms of passenger car manufacturers are, AMG, M Division, Shelby, Audi RS etc.
However, the world of automobiles also has a number of performance arms from other manufacturers too, these arms are lesser known but it does not take away anything from them in terms of modifications done on their normal models.
We have tried covering few of the lesser known but still capable performance arms of automobile manufacturers.
TRD - Performance Arm of Toyota Motors -
Think Toyota and you can imagine cars like the Corolla, Camry, Innova or to some of you Hilux name might also be known. However, Toyota has a history in motorsports too, and it is indeed a glorious history. The 'Toyota Racing Development' or 'TRD', was established in 1979 and is Toyota's in house tuning shop for all Toyota, Lexus and Scion cars. TRD badging was seen for some time in a few Toyota models in India too, however there were no apparent performance tuning efforts done on them. TRD is responsible both for improving street cars for more performance and supporting Toyota's racing interests around the world. It also produces various tuning products and accessories, including performance suspension components, superchargers, and wheels.
As of June 2013 there are currently two official branches of TRD: TRD Japan and TRD USA. Each of these branches has both a performance tuning division and a race (or competition) division. TRD Japan's Race Division concentrates on the Super GT Series (JGTC), All-Japan F3 Series, ESSO Formula Toyota Series, and Netz Cup races. TRD USA's Race Division concentrates on Championship Off Road Racing (CORR), NASCAR, Camping World Truck Series, Grand-Am Cup Sports Touring, National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Import Drags. In current times, the mighty capable car like the Toyota GT86 also get the TRD treatment in the form of Toyota 86TRD.
Polestar - Performance Arm of Volvo
Founded in 1996 in collaboration with Volvo to run the official Volvo motorsport program. Since then, Polestar has competed with the 850, S40, S60, C30 and currently the S60. The core business of Polestar is focused on development and competition in racing as well as development and production of Polestar road cars and Polestar Power Optimisations for Volvo road cars. Development and marketing of performance products for Volvo cars are based on the experience from racing. Polestar Performance Power Optimisation is sold via Volvo dealers for drivers wishing to optimise their Volvo cars. The latest addition is the production of Polestar Engineered cars such as the Volvo S60 and V60 Polestar which are sold in selected countries over the world.
The Polestar-Volvo Cars are probably one of the rarest and the most stunning road cars you can find on roads, with that unmistakable shade of Polestar Choice Blue, it is impossible not to fall for them.. Polestar Performance produces limited edition Volvo performance models, such as the Volvo S60 Polestar, and engine optimisations for turbocharged Volvo road cars as the official performance partner of Volvo with retained warranty and unchanged fuel consumption and emissions. The engine optimisation increases the power and torque output, varying depending on engine model.
Polestar Performance produces prototype cars as well, with the first and most famous being the C30 Polestar Performance Concept Prototype (2010) with over 450 bhp and 510 Nm. The Volvo S60 Polestar Concept is the heir to the C30 Polestar, featuring 508 BHP from a modified T6 engine, launched in June 2012. The car sprints from 0–100 km/h in 3.9 seconds with a top speed of over 300 km/h. In a road test, the car at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca where it broke the lap record for four-door cars, matching the lap time of an Audi R8.
RenaultSport - Performance Arm of Renault -
Renaultsport or RST, is the motorsport, performance and special vehicles merger division of Renault. It was officially established in 1976 as a between the Alpine and Gordini competition departments. RST organises many Renault-backed one-make championships worldwide and is in charge of Renault group's official involvement in motor racing, except for F1.
Renault Sport was created at the end of 1976, when Renault closed down the Alpine competition department (at that time, its main motorsport division), located at Dieppe, and moved all the racing activities to the Gordini factory at Viry-Chatillon, just outside Paris. The Dieppe-based Alpine department specialised in the construction of race car chassis while the Viry-Châtillon-based Gordini focussed on engines. However, several conflicts emerged between them, and Renault took the decision to unify both departments into a single location in order to achieve a greater integration and harmony. The company concentrated principally on developing a car for Formula One, although it also participated in other series.
Renault sport is known to have produced stunning cars like the Megane GT Line, and Megane Renault Sport or the tiny little Bomb Clio Renault Sport.