Toyota and Subaru May Be Working Together on a High-Performance AWD Hatchback: Report
Could this rally-inspired hot hatch be why Toyota keeps re-upping the patent for the Celica name?
Subaru and Toyota may be joining forces on an all-wheel-drive hot hatch that throws it back to both companies' dominant nineties rally cars, Autoblog reports. It's a pretty wild report that first surfaced in Japan's Best Car magazine, but look, we're here for it. Is this the real Toyota hot hatch that America was promised? Could this be why Toyota keeps re-upping the patent on the Celica name? We have so many questions.
Per Best Car's report, the two companies' new high-performance hatchback will be roughly the size of an Impreza hatchback, with a 2.4-liter turbo four-cylinder boxer engine, which we would guess is the Subaru FA24 that shows up in a number of other Subarus, including the Ascent and the second-gen BRZ. Likewise, Best Car reports that the new hatchback will feature Subaru's symmetrical all-wheel-drive system.
That's a whole lot of Subaru, and also why we're taking this report with a healthy dose of skepticism. As Autoblog notes, Subaru already considers its rally-inspired WRX STI as its halo performance car, so where does this fit? The WRX STI isn't exactly a car Subaru seems likely to share with another manufacturer. This new hatch might be an option to slot underneath the WRX STI, but the WRX and Impreza already occupy that space. Adding another Subaru hatch of roughly the same size would likely eat into the sales of Subaru's existing cars.
The of Google Translated version of Best Car's report says that "Toyota and Subaru are jointly developing a new WRC machine" following the now-postponed revival of Rally Japan, but that doesn't make much sense given that nearly every World Rally Championship car outside of the unique grand-tourer-based RGT class nowadays is based on a subcompact, such as the Hyundai i20, the Ford Fiesta and in the case of Toyota's own current WRC machine, the Yaris. They're smaller, lighter and nimbler, and going back to a regular compact-sized car doesn't make much sense. That's also the other reason why I have to doubt the joint WRC effort: Toyota is already heavily invested in its top-tier Yaris WRC program.
Still, this report makes a lot more sense on the Toyota side, especially for one specific hole: the hot hatchback they've been teasing for the U.S. market. The U.S., in case you forgot or need me to grind salt into that wound one more time, does not get Toyota's rally-bred hoon hatch du jour, the GR Yaris. An Impreza is a tad bigger than a Yaris, after all, and could make sense given America's aversion to subcompact cars.
Here's the part where I dive into pure speculation of my own: the report says they're working together, but could Toyota be relying heavily on licensed Subaru parts bin tech to fill that hole in the American line-up? That would be one way to save money over designing a whole new hatch from scratch built for the often hatchback-shy USDM.
Here's the part where I take Autoblog's speculation and run with it, too. If the idea is to throw it back to the WRC wins of yore, Toyota has an iconic rally car nameplate that isn't in use right now: Celica. The Celica GT-Four was an absolute beast in the World Rally Championship, and using that recently renewed name patent for this rumored rally-inspired hot hatch would make a lot of sense.
Previous reports referred to the U.S.-bound hot hatch as the Corolla Sport GRMN, however, so all bets are off on the name. However, those reports also promised the 268-hp 1.6-liter turbo inline-three engine from the GR Yaris, all-wheel-drive and a six-speed manual, which doesn't line up with this new report, but sounds good to me. Just stop teasing us and finally send over a cool car, guys. We're tired.
Autoblog also suggests that Toyota might also be able to sell the hatchback in Europe as a Toyota to kind of make up for Subaru not bringing its version of the next-gen BRZ there. This would enable Subaru to collect its share of the co-designing profits without eating into their own Impreza/WRX/WRX STI sales. Europe does love a good fast hatch and it could win a few extra sales from folks who feel as if the GR Yaris is a little too small.
Where do you think they're going with this mystery Suba-yota hatchback? Is it a plausible addition to either line-up or a spicy vaporware treat? Let us know your thoughts in the comments, or better yet, hit up our tips line if you have more information: firstname.lastname@example.org.