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Toyota to Revive Starlet Mini Hatch With Rally-Ready GR Model: Report

A Toyota GR Starlet could soon become the smallest and cheapest Toyota hot hatch.

byJames Gilboy|
Toyota Starlet GT Turbo


The Toyota Starlet may not be as famous today as it once was, but to the old heads, the Starlet may as well be synonymous with motorsport. The lightweight, sometimes rear-wheel-drive hatch was a lively little thing when you threw any power at all at it, and it's still respected around the world. The Starlet may soon return to fame though, because Toyota is reportedly working to revive the classic hatch—and already has a GR performance model in development.

The Starlet's comeback is forecasted by Best Car Web, which accurately leaked multiple details of the GR Supra and GR Corolla before their releases. The outlet reports that the Starlet was originally supposed to arrive this season to replace the Toyota Passo subcompact, and ride on the Daihatsu New Global Architecture (DNGA) platform. But Daihatsu's engineering is being audited following its crash safety scandal, so the Starlet has now reportedly been delayed until 2026. And when it does arrive, it'll supposedly bring a Gazoo Racing hot hatchback with it.

1982 Toyota Starlet. Toyota

The Toyota GR Starlet (or GRlet as some will call it) will reportedly be a featherweight with a targeted mass of under 2,200 pounds. This will reportedly be achieved by keeping hybridization out of the equation, which will make the GR Starlet one of a diminishing number of non-hybrids in Toyota's lineup by that point.

Toyota will reportedly widen the GR Starlet's track by 2.4 inches, and house its wider tires under fender flares. It'll feature bigger brakes, a roof spoiler, and of course, a turbocharged three-cylinder based on the one used in the GR Corolla and GR Yaris. But in the GR Starlet, it'll apparently be downsized from 1.6 liters to 1.3, and will make around 150 horsepower. It'd seem Toyota is turning down the boost at a minimum, if not de-stroking the engine, which would reduce torque but could lift the 7,200-rpm redline. Extra revs would be a solid consolation prize.

For transmissions, the GR Starlet will reportedly feature either a six-speed manual or an eight-speed automatic, mirroring the updated GR Corolla. It'll break with other GR hatches from there though, as the GR Starlet will reportedly be just front-wheel-drive. That may be related to Toyota's alleged plans to take the GR Starlet racing, by offering a WRC Rally4-homologated version to compete in lower divisions of global rally.

1987 Toyota Starlet Turbo. Toyota

As a lower-performing car, it'll come at a lower cost, with the road car reportedly expected to start between $15,850 and $17,750. That about guarantees the GR Starlet won't come to the United States, where Toyota gave up on subcompacts when it discontinued the Yaris years ago. There's just no chance it'd return to the segment with a low-volume performance model. As with the Japanese icons of the 1990s, this'll be another car we have to covet from afar—which is to say nothing of a hypothetical GRMN model. Stuffing the whole GR Corolla's drivetrain in such a small, light hatchback would be a recipe for perfection.

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