2016 TOYOTA COROLLA SPRINTER
“We do not comment on future model plans.” That’s the pat answer manufacturers give when asked any speculative question about what might be on company drawing-boards.
It’s what Toyota always says.
Be that as it may, there is growing evidence that a Corolla Sprinter Coupe is in the pipeline. We asked Toyota insiders as much at the recent launch of the Corolla sedan in Tasmania.
The answer: “We do not comment on future model plans.”
“So a Corolla Sprinter Coupe is off the table...” we averred. The answer: “No, I did not say that.”
Read into that what you will, but here is the evidence.
Well known is that Toyota boss-of-bosses Akio Toyoda has committed Toyota to designing and building cars with "style that stirs people’s emotions".
For inspiration, Toyota has been gazing nostalgically backwards, muttering about a “rich sports coupe heritage” dating back to the 2000GT.
And it is this gazing backwards that is responsible for not only the current 86 coupe, but also for its badge which was lifted from the last of the RWD Toyota Sprinters, the AE86 Sprinter 1600 GT.
The new 86 is a redefinition of a long-gone youthful ‘halo’ that Toyota so desperately wants to reconnect with.
And things are stirring: a source at Toyota is reported to have anointed the FT-1 as ‘the next Supra’, and, in the next breath, to have reaffirmed plans for a Toyota sports model to sit below the 86.
According to that source, it will arrive in 2017 with a hot hybrid drivetrain taking care of business.
This puts a Corolla Sprinter Coupe right in the slot.
And what will it look like? We put ace penman Theophilus Chin to the task; we think it will look like this:
The Sprinter badge has a history going back to the 1968 KE15 Corolla Sprinter and fired imaginations with the AE86.
While it may have since been sullied on the rumps of a succession of boring metal lumps, we think there is enough 'white noise' about to suggest plans are afoot within Toyota for a new one.
To share the platform of the latest Corolla, we think it’s the logical ‘third sports model’ below the 86.
We think it’s also the most glaring gap in Toyota’s line-up in a global market that has gone nuts for small personal coupes and hot-hatches.
With the departure of the last true Sprinter, the AE86, went the aspirations of a generation of drivers who watched in dismay as Toyota pulled on a brown cardigan and hush puppies.
And, aside from brief signs of life with the MR2 and Supra, sat in them for two decades.
Thank goodness then for the new 86. And for Akio Toyoda.
As for the next Sprinter, watch this space.