Toyota’s just-announced Yaris update may not be the most adventurous revision of the brand’s compact city hatch, but in amongst the news of tweaked body plastics and enhanced safety spec was one tantalising nugget: confirmation of an impending performance-oriented variant.
Slated to make its first public appearance at the Geneva auto show in March, the as-yet unnamed Toyota Yaris hot hatch will produce a stout 157kW of power. That, plus the images shown here, is all of the information that’s been released on the car to date.
We’ll find out more at Geneva, but with a power output in the mid-100kW region it’s almost guaranteed that there’s a turbocharged four-pot lurking under the Yaris’ bonnet – a first for Toyota’s city-sized hatch.
That power output would put it in competition with sport-tuned light hatch heroes like the Volkswagen Polo GTI, Renualt Clio RS, Ford Fiesta ST and Peugeot 208 GTi. As with those models, we can expect a bespoke suspension tune for the turbo Yaris as well. The unique wheels, more aggressive bodykit (scope that central exhaust exit) and large tailgate spoiler will add some visual flair too.
It would also be the first compact Toyota to sport a turbo since the Starlet GT of the 1990s, which toted a turbocharged 1.3-litre making 99kW, but never went on sale in Australia.
Like the Japan-only Starlet GT, a local release for Toyota’s latest hot hatch isn’t assured either.
Expected to go on sale in Europe following its Geneva debut, the souped-up Yaris will leverage the motorsports profile of its WRC-bound counterpart to rev up Toyota fans.
Continental Europeans may be the only ones who get to enjoy its delights, however. Not only is the car depicted a three-door – a bodystyle that was chopped from the local Yaris range in 2014 – but its left-hand drive configuration means a right-hook version isn’t guaranteed.
Wheels is investigating whether Toyota’s local operation can find a way to bring the hotter Yaris to our shores, but with the only other moderately exciting car in Toyota’s local line-up being the decidedly less practical 86 coupe, our fingers are crossed for a turbo Yaris.