Here's the good news: Toyota will finally break back into the hot hatch scene with a new Yaris boasting at least 157kW of turbocharged power. But here’s the bad: It definitely won’t be coming to South Africa.
Nevertheless, it’s good to know that the Japanese brand accused of erring on the side of conservatism with recent models, is willing to get spicy again. Not since the Run-X RSi of 2003 has Toyota made a hatch with more than 100kW (one locally-created Auris TRD aside), so this is a ballsy move for a company with a huge lineup of vanilla-flavoured cars.
The hot new Yaris, which will be revealed at the Geneva Motor Show in March, is borne of Toyota’s new Gazoo factor and will almost certainly incorporate some track-based technologies.
Two years ago Toyota united all of its official racing teams under one Gazoo-labelled umbrella, and besides its LMP1 class Le Mans effort and the South African-based Dakar bakkie squad, it’ll also compete in this year’s World Rally Championship with a gravel-chucking Yaris WRC. We suspect the road-going version will at least share a 1.6-litre engine capacity with its roll-caged sibling.
Based on these two pictures, the yet-to-be-named turbo Yaris was clearly inspired by the WRC version, with very similar black, red and white livery. Toyota’s not saying much else about the newcomer yet, other than that it’ll be a three-door variant and will be launched alongside the rest of a revised Yaris range – which will be headed our way later this year.