Subaru's desire to return to the world rally stage has led to the development of a small hot hatch, leaning on its relationship with Toyota.
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Subaru is rumoured to be entering the 2022 World Rally Championship – marking a return to the top echelon if the sport after an absence of more than a decade – and it could be with a new hot hatch based on a Toyota.

The company's desire to return to world rally – the motorsport that propelled Subaru to hero status in the 1990s but which came to an end for the brand in 2008 amid cost pressures during the Global Financial Crisis – means a new small hatchback is needed to fit into the company's line-up, according to a report from Japan's Best Car.

Vehicles currently entered into the World Rally Championship (WRC) are based on the Ford Fiesta, Hyundai i20, and Toyota Yaris.

While the original Impreza sedan rose to prominence with the likes of Colin McRae behind the wheel, the current Impreza hatch is considered too big to be competitive in today's WRC.

It's possible the new rally car model could be based on the Toyota C-HR GR Sport, using design language shown on the Subaru Viziv concept car. An alternative theory is the model will be based on the Toyota Yaris Cross.

Using either Toyota as a basis for a new hatchback would help Subaru lower development costs, but the Yaris would help fast-track a competitive rally car.

Subaru and Toyota have enjoyed a close working relationship since the co-development of the 86/BRZ coupe, leading to Toyota extending its stake in Subaru to 20 per cent back in 2019.

The two Japanese car manufacturers have also worked together on a fully-electric SUV, known as the Subaru Evoltis.

Rumours of a small Subaru hatchback – referred to as the 'Super AWD' – have been around since 2018, as have the whispers of the two companies working together to develop a hatchback.

In 2018, Japanese media reported Toyota's boss Akio Toyoda, himself a racing driver and motorsports fan, had encouraged Subaru to return to rallying.

At this stage there has yet to be any physical evidence to support the rumours of a Subaru-badged Yaris Cross, but with information of the project continually trickling through, there may be some merit to the claims.