As reported previously, 2017 will be a great year to catch the World Rally Championship (WRC). New regulations welcomed new manufacturers, including returnee Toyota after a long hiatus. The Japanese giant will unleash the Toyota Yaris WRC car, which could potentially spawn a production hot hatch model.
First, let’s learn about Toyota’s latest rally car. Four-time WRC champion Tommi Makinen will lead the team, and the cars are built by Toyota’s Gazoo Racing. Interestingly, besides Panasonic and tech firm DMG Mori, Toyota looped in Microsoft as well. The tech giant is said to allow both companies to collaborate on data analysis, team communication and social media sharing.
This Yaris WRC is powered by a 1.6-litre turbocharged mill that liberates at least 380 hp with power being delivered to all wheels. The Yaris WRC is scheduled to make its first rally assault in Monte Carlo by January 2017. Up to this point, no driver lineup has been announced in the two-car assault.
A recent report from AutoExpress UK revealed that Toyota’s European President & CEO, Johan van Zyl, has hinted the possibility of introducing a hot hatch based on the Yaris WRC car. Think of the hot Yaris as a GTI variant, much like the Peugeot 208 GTI to the 208 supermini lineup.
Also, the hot Yaris will be developed by Toyota’s Gazoo Racing arm instead of the more familiar Toyota Racing Development (TRD) division. The current third-generation Yaris has been around since 2011 and it’s due for replacement. Judging by the pace of things, the hot Yaris should be launched earliest by 2018.
This brings us to the good old motorsports mantra of “Win by Sunday, sale by Monday“. Instead of selling a “Rally Special” with only decals all-around, perhaps buyers would welcome something that’s close to the real deal, minus the roll cage and rally tyres of course. Fancy yourself a 200 hp Toyota Yaris?