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Toyota's winning formula

Toyota's Camry-powered Project Go!

Turbo Echo concept manages 110kW of power

Forced induction gives MR2 Street Affair a boost

New styling, gearbox and wheels for MR2

Toyota's RSC hints at future styling cues

Toyota didn't become Japan's biggest automaker by accident, and at the Sydney Motor Show, the marque proved why.

Unveiling a number of prototypes, almost all of which were performance-oriented offerings, it is obvious that Toyota is moving swiftly on the first-year success of its Formula One team.

Most thought the likes of Mika Salo wouldn't rate a mention during his first year, driving what was expected to be a slow vehicle.

Despite this, he has managed to scrape together two driver points, placing him in equal 15th position with Australia's young-gun Mark Webber.

But it's Toyota's new Formula One car that impresses most, which has tremendous speed on the straights, and promises to yield not only more technological advances for the average Toyota passenger car, but also for its F1 season next year.

Herein we'll take a look at what's being offered by not only Toyota, but also also its spin-off luxury marque, Lexus, which offered a number of 'go-fast' models.

While performance concepts hogged the lime-light at the Toyota exhibit, the 4x4 theme shared by the quartet of local car makers was present in the form of the RSC, or Rugged Sports Coupe.

Looking for all the world like a 21st century dune buggy, it could morph into the new face of the Rav4, give or take a few bonnet scoops and 19-inch wheels.

The vehicle, taken as a whole, had a great sense of proportion and, while it was obvious this model was a one-off show car, the general idea would make for a promising lifestyle vehicle.

However, the light-shell bucket seats with six-point safety harnesses will have to go - talk about a pain in the neck...

The RSC combines a sporty two-plus-two car body with four-wheel drive hardware and wild styling cues that result in a fresh variation on rugged-vehicle thinking.

The body design combines muscular wheel arches with edgy mechanical forms that communicate 'tough-as-nails' durability, according to Toyota.

Toyota also showed off the F1-inspired Street Affair, based on the MR2 platform. It's good to see that the MR2 name has, in some capacity, returned to the good old days of turbocharging, making a healthy 193kW of power, covering 0-100km/h in a spritely six seconds.

The MR2 Street Affair's body is constructed from fibre-glass and carbon-fibre panels with multiple air scoops, while its doors hinge skywards to provide access to the small two-seater.

Another turbocharged Toyota was the aptly named Turbo Echo concept, sitting on large 17-inch multispoke alloy wheels. Pumping out a paltry 110kW of power, one wonders if this so-called 'concept' was cobbled together at the last minute?

The mid-engined Project Go was developed to showcase the merits of Toyota's new 2.4-litre Camry inline four engine, while an update to the current 1.8-litre MR2 see it gain a six-speed tip-tronic transmission, new front and rear aprons, bigger wheels and improved ride and handling thanks to a suspension revision.

Also on the receiving end of suspension changes - to improve ride and handling - and a slight cosmetic upgrade is the always impressive Celica, delivering a potent 140kW from a diminuitive 1.8-litres.

Lexus also showed its sporting intentions with the new "L-Tuned" GS 300, which could herald new opposition for the likes of Mercedes AMG badge. The IS 200 Caliente limited edition model is further evidence that Lexus us keen to sharpen its image in the eyes of performance enthusiasts.

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