The Japanese giant is now entering the final developing phase of its rally program – a move that could spawn a brand new hot hatch.
Now, Toyota isn’t a stranger to these type of automobiles, but most of the Japanese car maker’s pocket rockets were Japan exclusive back in the day. But that could change in the near future.
Gossips of a possible Yaris-based hot-hatch have hit our ears ever since the company announced its return to the FIA World Rally Championship, and the closer Toyota gets to the debut date, in 2017, the more plausible (and logical) the rumors seem.
In a recent interview with Auto Express, President and CEO of Toyota Motor Europe, Johan van Zyl, stated that there has to be something on the market to attest Toyota’s involvement in rallying:
“It’s no use doing motor sport if you can’t reflect it in your product. What you’ll see is that we want to totally integrate it into our offering. From the European side we would like to do something – to bring something to market that will reflect our participation in WRC.”
Since the WRC cars are made and developed with the help of European third-party companies, Toyota’s Gazoo Racing sub-brand could use their expertise to create a production-model with various aftermarket mods.
“I am also a car person so I like to see that the people can really experience the joy of that – especially those who are real enthusiasts. Lots of people like to wear the same Nikes as the athletes, even though they can’t run as fast,” concluded van Zyl.
The hot hatch niche is getting crowded, as Hyundai announced its intention to introduce the N-branded i30 very soon. However, Toyota’s model will probably be based on the next-gen Yaris, and it won’t arrive sooner than 2018.