Toyota is preparing for an onslaught of performance car products beginning with its upcoming Supra to a Gazoo Racing Corolla and even performance hybrid vehicles.
It follows recent form from the Japanese manufacturer that has transformed its line-up in look and feel on an all-new platform architecture.
Built for improved stability and handling and with a 60 per cent stiffer chassis, Toyota’s new TNGA platform underpins its upcoming Corolla and is key to adding a sportier feel that the brand says resonates with a growing proportion of buyers.
Asked if Toyota wants a hot hatch Corolla to take on the likes of the Hyundai i30 N and Volkswagen Golf GTI, Toyota Australia vice president of operations Sean Hanley was emphatic.
“Yes there is. The short answer is yes there is,” he told Drive.
“I’ve spoken to some of you about Gazoo Racing and the opportunities that presents in the future and should some sportier cars become available in the Gazoo Racing planning line-up globally that would be something we are very interested in, and we would certainly do all of our market research to support bringing a car of that nature to our market if that becomes available.”
Gazoo Racing is Toyota’s performance arm that will replace TRD in all facets of motorsport and hotted-up cars. Already established in Europe where it recently released the supercharged Yaris GRMN, Gazoo is heading to Australia and Hanley says our market is well suited for a car like a hot hatch.
“The [Corolla] Ascent Sport proved to be a very successful model for us and I think that’s pointing to where the market is heading, so clearly I think the market is looking for premium and sportier.
“When we look at all of our cars in the line-up, there is a sports performance market out there. It won’t be the dominant sales for the Corolla but there is a market that exists out there.
“But we don’t have that on the plan right now.”
But filling the gap between now and the arrival of a supped-up Corolla is the new Supra, which is close to confirmation for Australia.
“We’re just one step from confirming it,” said Hanley.
“Let’s not beat around the bush, we want that car. There’s no doubt from a Supra nameplate and brand perspective there is a desire.
“It plays a more significant role than volume and Supra would represent a big brand statement. It has a big history and a strong following.”
While the well-received but ageing 86 coupe steps nearer to its end, Toyota may also look elsewhere to fill performance car gaps in its line-up, with Hanley hinting there could be a hybrid performance car coming. Just last month Toyota announced its new RAV4 line-up for the US that features a hybrid-powered model as the sportiest variant.
“There’s no reason at all why hybrid can’t become a performance car. So if you start thinking about what hybrid electric could represent in the future, there’s no reason why not.
“So that may give you some clue to future direction. So hybrid will continue to evolve, the technology and the performance, and a sportier level of hybrid will continue to evolve.”
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