Electricity could be the key to a high performance version of the all-new Corolla hatchback.
Toyota is considering a hot hatch version of its twelfth generation small car – and a petrol-electric hybrid setup is high on the list of powertrain options.
Speaking at the launch of the all-new Corolla hatchback – which has the choice of petrol or hybrid drivetrains across its three model grades – chief engineer Yasushi Ueda acknowledged the plethora of hot hatch options, admitting Toyota was considering expanding the Corolla lineup. However, whereas all hot hatch rivals use a four-cylinder turbo engine, Ueda said a petrol-electric hybrid “sounds very good to me”.
“I have to consider that, I have to investigate, research…”
Toyota has confirmed it is working on a hybrid performance car, expected to be based on the upcoming born-again Supra. And other brands – including Ferrari and Porsche – have used batteries and electric motors to boost performance. Given Toyota’s long history of hybrids it seems a logical move.
“We don’t have any detailed plan yet,” said Ueda. “Of course in the future the idea of a hot hybrid sounds very good.”
Ueda added that a hot hatch hybrid Corolla could utilise the all-wheel drive capability of the new TNGA architecture that underpins the Corolla (as well as the C-HR, Prius and Camry).
If that happened, he said it could follow the basic setup employed with other all-wheel drive hybrids from Toyota, where the petrol engine drives the front wheels and electric motors power the rear wheels.
“That is the basic structure within Toyota.”
In many ways, a hybrid hot hatch makes sense; globally, Toyota has pushed the petrol-electric system since the late 1990s before selling the original Prius in Australia since late 2001. Whereas most brands opted for diesel propulsion as an alternative for more fuel efficient passenger cars, Toyota and its luxury brand Lexus have steadfastly relied on hybrids.
In the all-new Corolla hatch the hybrid variants are a major sales push, with a $1500 price premium over the equivalent petrol version. Toyota is conservatively estimating 20 per cent of Corolla sales will be for the hybrid. For the larger Camry – which went on sale late in 2017 - demand for the hybrid models is running at 51 per cent, prompting Toyota to increase orders of the petrol-electric versions.