JAPAN’S answer to the fiery Ford Fiesta ST is not destined for Australia, at least not in the foreseeable future.
Set for a global unveiling at the Geneva Motor Show in March, the as-yet unnamed Toyota Yaris hot hatch has only been developed for Europe and Japan, with very limited production, according to Toyota Motor Corporation Australia’s Product Public Relations Manager, Stephen Coughlan.
“It will be exclusive to Europe and Japan only,” he told Wheels at the Toyota Kluger facelift first drive in Los Angeles last week.
It is understood that TMCA is very keen to add high-performance versions of the Toyota Yaris as they become available, but only if the package and price is right. With competition as fierce as the Ford Fiesta ST, Renault Clio RS, and Volkswagen Polo GTI, the brand wants to ensure its best foot is put forward.
“That sort of product is certainly something we’d like to add to our product range, Coughlan said. “And if that sort of vehicle was to become available, we’d certainly put our hand up.
With the next-generation Yaris due in about 2019 well advanced in the pipeline, and based on components developed from the TNGA Toyota New Generation Architecture first seen in the latest Prius hybrid, it is believed that the company is contemplating a permanent hot-hatch model. Much will be riding on the reception the WRC World Rally Championship-inspired edition receives in Europe and Japan.
“We’ll certainly be monitoring from the sidelines to see how it’s received in the markets in which it is offered,” Coughlan said. “And we will continue the feasibility studies and request similar performance products going forward.”
The 157kW Yaris hot hatch will be released in Europe and Japan to capitalise on Toyota’s 2017 WRC campaign, which begins in Monte Carlo later this week using a pair of Toyota Gazoo Racing competition vehicles powered by a 1.6-litre direct-injection four-cylinder turbo pumping out 279kW to all four wheels via a six-speed hydraulically-shifted sequential manual.
Unlike the mainstream five-door Yaris that hails from Japan for our market, the hot hatch version comes in a sole three-door configuration, and will only be manufactured in France in small numbers, using bespoke parts and with plenty of additional hand-built elements, further raising costs beyond economic sense for Australia.
Further info and details will be released just before the Swiss show.