As completely unrelated things go, RAV4 and rally crossing could be hard put to match. A look at Toyota’s mini monster would never bring forth an image of a rally car to mind.
Yet, Toyota, in their infinite wisdom has made the New RAV4 rally car. This 2-wheel drive, 2.4-liter adorable behemoth churns out 176bhp. Apart from the suspension, there is little to no change in the RAV4 innards: stock brakes, engine and surprisingly stock automatic transmission as well. The hot shot Toyota is competing with the likes of Ford Fiesta fitted with manual gearbox and turbos and a dead drop weight of around 350 kilos.
Toyota’s driver will be Ryan Millen, a lad who has been involved with Toyota Motorsport since his childhood and yes, this Millen is from the famous Millen family that includes Rhys Millen and the legendary race car driver Rod Millen, brother and father to Ryan respectively. Rod lead many a Toyota Motorsport cars through dust and burned rubber to glory and the now the sons have taken up the mantle.
Preparing the RAV4 was somewhat anticlimactic, all they did was shed some weight by stripping the car off to its bare minimum. Removing most of the interior, redundant equipment and insulation, Toyota manages to shear off 500pounds and considering the 178bhp engine, that’s a lot of weight it doesn’t have to pull along. The car should now be considerably faster and more adept at handling harsh terrain and quick turns round the corners. The underfloor has been strengthened and the vehicle is much sturdier after the roll cages has been installed in accordance with the rally cross specification. The little engine producing 172 lb-ft torque really isn’t the best bet to win a rally but I don’t suppose Toyota is really in it to win it. What they are looking for is competitive fun and the chance to show that a stock Toyota can be equally reliable and durable as a racecar in the rough terrain.