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Toyota Confirms Production Yaris Hot Hatch as Image Makeover Continues

Toyota Yaris Gazoo sketch

Hot on the heels of yesterday’s unveiling of the Toyota Gazoo Racing-crafted Yaris Gazoo WRC rally car, Toyota has said a road-going hot hatch for the common man is on the way.

The automaker’s European division let the news slip in Helsinki yesterday, confirming rumors swirling around a possible hot hatch variant of the brand’s staid subcompact.

Still, Toyota left many questions unanswered.

Giving the masses something to pine for seemed like a natural outcome of the company’s splashy re-entry into the World Rally Championship. Certainly, that’s what we’ve expected for some time. Toyota has mulled turning to its Gazoo Racing division for a sporty sub-brand, with the unit’s chief, Koei Saga, declaring that he’d like to make it happen.

Sure enough, that’s what happened — assuming, of course, that the Yaris is just the first hot shoe to drop. In a very brief release, Toyota Europe stated, “Not only will the WRC scene provide learnings to further improve Toyota’s road car technology, it will also inspire an expansion of the Yaris line-up with a performance oriented version.”

To accompany the news, Toyota teased a sketch of the shadowy model. While the automaker hasn’t said if the upcoming model will bear Gazoo badging, it seems likely. It also hasn’t said what to expect under the hood, or whether the model will appear on American shores.

Competing in the subcompact hot hatch segment means this supposedly fiery three-door needs to present a serious threat to the reigning champ — the Ford Fiesta ST. That means output in the neighborhood of 200 horsepower and 200 lb-ft of torque. The Yaris Gazoo WRC boasts 375 hp from its boosted 1.6-liter four, if you were wondering.

If Toyota brings this variant stateside, it could ignite some interest in the overlooked subcompact — and not a moment too soon, either. Sales of the Yaris in the U.S. fell steadily since the model’s 2008 sales peak. While it once saw sales peak above the six-figure mark, this year is on track to become the model’s worst sales year to date.

[Image: Toyota]

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