Toyota Yaris WRC revealed, road-going hot hatch to follow
READY for a Toyota Yaris to take your breath away?
You may never have thought it possible, but Toyota has launched a widebody and quite sexy Yaris challenger for the 2017 World Rally Championship, then announced it would eventually return to the hot hatch market with a sporty Yaris road car.
The wraps were taken off the Yaris WRC car in Helsinki and it was announced that Toyota would "use experience gained from its full-blooded return to the World Rally Championship to develop and improve its road car technology and expand the Yaris range with a new performance-focused model."
The statement stopped there without revealing any Yaris hot hatch details, performance figures, arrival date or pricing at this early stage...all we got was a basic sketch.
Toyota Australia wouldn't confirm a hot Yaris was heading Down Under in the future, with spokesman Steve Coughlan saying: "Whilst we would love to have a hot hatch in our local line-up at some future point, we have no plans to introduce this product to the Australian range."
If it did arrive here, a fizzier Yaris would be a nice rival to other hot hatch tiddlers like the Ford Fiesta ST, VW Polo GTI, Renault Clio RS200 and Peugeot 208 GTi.
At present the Yaris range peaks with a 1.5-litre VVT-i four-cylinder good for just 80kW and 141Nm, so there's wriggle room for more poke.
As for the Yaris WRC contender, it's a welcome addition to other factory-backed cars competing in 2017, joining the Citroen C3 WRC, Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC and Ford Fiesta RS WRC cars.
Volkswagen - winner of the last four World Rally Championships with its Polo R WRC racer - has withdrawn its manufacturer entry for 2017, but Polos will be entered by VW customer teams.
Next year's WRC sees wide-reaching revisions to technical regulations to boost cars' performance (up from 224kW to 283kW and torque up to 450Nm), and allow teams more technical and design freedom. Hence why the Yaris looks so outrageous.
The rear end in particular is simply staggering with its huge vented arches, giant wing and less than subtle diffuser.
It is Toyota's first WRC entrant in 17 years, and will be piloted by Finnish drivers Jari-Matti Latvala and Juho Hänninen, with four-time WRC champion Tommi Makinen serving as team principal.
The two Yaris WRCs are powered by 1.6-litre turbo engines with "over 279kW and over 425Nm", use six-speed hydraulic shift gearboxes, employ all-wheel-drive and weigh under 1200kg.
Much to be excited about for WRC 2017: the cars look wild and should be awesome spectacles once more as they've been a tad plain, relatively speaking, in recent years.
The season's curtain raiser is the snowy Monte Carlo Rally on January 20, while Rally Australia at Coffs Harbour begins on November 17.