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Old 12-13-2016, 10:45 AM   #1
Drives: Yaris
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: PA
Posts: 132
Exclamation Toyota Yaris hot hatch on the way following WRC return!

Just in!

Toyota is back in the World Rally Championship and the Yaris WRC competition car will spawn a production hot hatch

Toyota is set to join the hot hatchback ranks for the first time in more than a generation. As revealed by Auto Express in October, plans are afoot to support the firm’s newly announced rally campaign with a high-performance Toyota Yaris road car.

A teaser image shared by Toyota on its official blog shows how the model will look, with the sketch testing a model with plenty of sporty features including aero kit, bigger brakes and wheels or even a multi-coloured paint scheme. It's likely that a Toyota hot hatch will be so outlandish, but it does at least confirm that the car is on the way.

The Japanese manufacturer is using its Fiesta rival to re-enter the WRC in 2017, 17 years after it last competed in the series with the Corolla. Rallying’s rules don’t force manufacturers to make fast road cars that are linked to the competition vehicles - but Toyota’s European President & CEO has said he wants more than just a marketing tie-up to acknowledge the return to WRC.

Speaking exclusively to Auto Express, Johan van Zyl said, “It’s no use doing motorsport 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.

“I am also being a car person so I like to see that the people can really experience the joy of that - especially those who are real enthusiasts,” he added. “Lots of people like to wear the same Nikes as the athletes, even though they can’t run as fast.”

Any hot Yaris is likely to be based on the next generation of the car - so it won’t arrive until 2018 at the earliest. Toyota could opt to power the faster edition with a more potent version of the Yaris hybrid’s petrol-electric set-up. But another option is the 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol that features in the C-HR crossover raced by Toyota’s engineers at the Nurburgring earlier this year. That could produce up to 180bhp, giving the Yaris a motor to match the likes of the Polo GTi and Fiesta ST.

Development of the hotter Yaris could be conducted under the guise of Toyota’s Gazoo Racing sub-brand. Previously a Japan-only motorsport enterprise, Gazoo was launched in Europe at the recent 2016 Paris Motor Show, and a WRC-influenced Yaris would be an ideal way of building its image in new regions. Indeed, the division has already experimented with the Yaris; it has prepared a couple of concepts over the past few years, and one of them featured a 180bhp turbocharged engine.

Van Zyl told us, “We want to create a global feel for motorsport and Gazoo stands for us wanting to learning from motorsport, and for developing excitement around cars. If you love cars, they shouldn’t just be for getting from A to B.”
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