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Toyota Cannot Stop Hyping Up the Celica Comeback It Hasn’t Confirmed

Either it's a slow Friday at Toyota or we're being given the biggest wink possible.
1989 Toyota Celica GT-Four ST185
Toyota via

Rumors of the Toyota Celica’s revival reached a fever pitch earlier this year when Toyota chairman Akio Toyoda admitted he had asked the coupe be given another chance. Though the former CEO doesn’t have the influence he once did, and the performance car market isn’t exactly healthy these days, it brought speculation to a fever pitch—unfounded though it may have been. But now it’s hard to know what to think, because even Toyota’s company newspaper Toyota Times is now reporting on the rumors.

Let’s rewind to March 5, when Toyoda said “the Celica is a car that I would like to have again” in an interview transcribed by Toyota Times. “I have a faint hope that President Koji Sato will carry on this trend for us,” he added, later acknowledging on September 10 that he had requested the Celica be brought back. The Toyota Times story went on to recap the nameplate’s history, its cultural significance, and motorsport legacy, including the GT-Four‘s renowned WRC cheating scandal.

While the story itself doesn’t confirm the Celica’s reboot, the attention the company mouthpiece gives the possibility feels significant—if hard to interpet. Carmakers’ PR divisions steer clear of talking about unconfirmed products as a rule, so it’s strange to see Toyota waffle on the Celica’s future in view of the public. It’s an awful lot of breath spent on something that supposedly isn’t guaranteed to happen—even if the signs are starting to point to its comeback after all.

Back in 2021, a Japanese car magazine reported that the Celica might be revived as an EV, or with some other kind of reduced-emissions drivetrain. That’d position it as a rival to the new Honda Prelude, an electrified coupe that’s like a cross between the CR-Z and Integra. That also seems like the only open slot in Toyota’s performance car lineup.

Toyota officials have spoken of reviving the brand’s “three brothers” performance trio of the Celica, MR2, and Supra. The Supra’s already here, the MR2-shaped FT-Se EV was confirmed in October, and the GR86 and GR Corolla address the cheap rear-wheel-drive coupe and all-wheel-drive niches. The only remaining space would seem to be an entry-level front-wheel-drive option below the GR86, which would benefit from being thrifty on fuel. Y’know, like the car the rumors suggest we’ll get.

Honda Prelude concept
Honda Prelude concept. Honda

If the Celica is to come back, it’s probably safe to expect it to be a more driver-oriented offshoot of the new Prius. That said, the new Prius looks like a strong enough starting point for a performance car that a smaller, sleeker, lighter version sounds all the better. Especially if a high-performance GRMN version is in the cards.

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