It wouldn't make sense to have a Toyota Yaris WRC car without a go-fast version of the hatchback that buyers could take home, according to the man responsible for sports cars for the Japanese company.
Tetsuya Tada, Toyota's chief engineer of the company's sport vehicle management division – and the man behind the Toyota 86 – told Australian media at the 2015 Tokyo motor show that it is his intent to bring a hot hatch to market to run in conjunction with the brand’s re-entry to the World Rally Championship in 2017.
Toyota has toyed with the notion of a go-fast Yaris in the past with the Yaris Hybrid-R concept (pictured below), which featured a 223kW 1.6-litre direct injection turbocharged four-cylinder engine mated to a six-speed sequential transmission, while at the rear of the car sat a pair of 45kW motors powering each rear wheel. The total output of that car was 313kW.
And while it isn’t nearly as wild, Toyota has offered a warmed-over Yaris in the Japanese market called the Vitz (as per the JDM naming convention) GRMN, seen at the top of this post and in the image below. That limited-edition vehicle had a 1.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine producing 112kW of power and 206Nm of torque.
Tada said that the company must have a competitive small fast hatchback to compete with some well-known rivals – not only those who compete in WRC, but others, too.
“We need a real hot hatch for the Toyota brand. Because we, Toyota, already announced the comeback to WRC for 2017."
“Yaris, what do you think about Yaris?” he posited. “I must create a real hot hatch, real hot hatch of Toyota."
When asked if it could be the larger Corolla – which would compete, theoretically, with the likes of the Volkswagen Golf GTI and Ford Focus ST – or a Yaris, which would fight against the Polo GTI and Fiesta ST – Tada indicated he wasn’t fussed.
“I don’t mind name. My job is to create a real, exciting hot hatch within the market.
“I don’t mind which base car is better or not. I will make a real competitive hot hatch,” he said.
When asked specifically if a smaller Yaris hot hatch would be able to compete, Tada made it clear that although he wasn’t going to talk about power figures, the smaller versions of the ST and GTI sat high on his target list.
“I think so,” he said when asked if thought the Ford Fiesta ST was the hot hatch to beat. “And Polo GTI also.”
“We must beat it.”
It also seems clear that Tada is eager to continue with the tried-and-tested format for hot hatches in that segment: front-wheel drive, and turbocharged.
“No, big turbo,” he said when asked if the engine would be a small, downsized turbo unit. And as for all-wheel drive, Tada made it clear that wouldn’t be the case.
“Nowadays we don’t need any all-wheel drive,” Tada said.
Tada explained that while it is clear that the entry in to the WRC will be part of the drive to have a saleable hot hatch of the same name, he doesn’t see a need for motorsports to influence what buyers will be offered in showrooms to a massive extent.
“We already announced that we would have a new division, motorsport headquarters in TMC. This is why [Toyota chief] Akio Toyoda (pictured above) made it: you must connect motorsport technology and real production,” he said.
“I’ve already got a same kind of question from Akio Toyoda – at that time, I always reply: ‘motorsport and production cross variations is already old fashioned; a long time ago it was real’.
“But nowadays motorsport technology and real technology is completely different. I already told him like that,” he said.
“Finally that really upset him. He said ‘why you say always’. That makes a current boring sports car situation in the world. Many customers cannot so expect something new or something exciting from sports cars. The reason why there’s no variation between motorsports vehicle and production – you must come over and achieve something new, a relationship between motorsports and production.
“That’s the biggest mission to challenge it,” he said. “Therefore we always are trying to achieve something real, relationship between motorsports and real production cars.
“We must create a new era for future rally and hot hatch generation.”
Indeed, Tada made it clear that Toyoda has told him to do what he needs to do to make sure the hot hatch is competitive.
“He never says details; just ‘go forward, straight’ – it is exciting,” he said, before indicating that at times he (Tada) may give a little too much away.
“Every time when I get an interview from you, after your interview I get so many complaints from internal Toyota.”