Toyota planning hot hatch for the American market

Ronan Glon

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The 268-horsepower Toyota GR Yaris joined the list of forbidden fruits we can't get in the United States when it made its global debut at the 2020 Tokyo Auto Salon. The online petition to bring the car here didn't change the company's mind, but product planners have another plan to satisfy motorists seeking a seriously quick hatchback.

Toyota has "an answer" for the GR Yaris (pictured) that's better tailored to the American market, according to Bob Carter, the firm's executive vice president of sales. Speaking to Car & Driver, he explained it's not going to be a federalized version of the rally-bound model sold overseas because the car it's based on isn't available on our shores. The Yaris we get is a re-badged Mazda2 that shares no major parts with the fourth-generation hatchback sold overseas, so giving it World Rally Championship-like power would be easier said than done.

The publication added the hot hatch Carter alluded to will be a spicier evolution of a car already available in America, and it will likely get a variant of the turbocharged, 1.6-liter three-cylinder in the GR Yaris. Reading the tea leaves led Car & Driver to speculate there's a quicker, better-handling Corolla Hatchback around the corner.

It's a reasoning that makes sense. The Corolla is a size bigger than the Yaris, but the two models share a modular platform called TNGA so upgrading it with the GR's turbo-triple and its all-wheel drive system would be relatively straight-forward. It's also right-sized for the American market, while the 268-horsepower output would put it in the same ballpark as the Hyundai Veloster N and the next-generation Volkswagen Golf GTI. There are numerous other models built on TNGA, including the Camry, but they're not particularly well-suited to receiving a high-strung three-cylinder engine, a six-speed manual transmission, and all-wheel drive. GR Prius, anyone?

This isn't the first time Toyota has made subtle comments alluding to a hot hatch for Americans. British magazine Auto Express reported the GR Corolla will arrive by 2023 with a 250-horsepower version of the triple, while Road & Track floated the possibility of using the powertrain in a hot-rodded evolution of the C-HR crossover.

When we'll see Toyota's next America-bound hot hatch is anyone's guess. The GR Yaris is due out by the end of 2020, so don't expect its Americanized sibling to arrive in showrooms until 2021 at the earliest.

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