The worst-kept secret in the automotive world has at last been confirmed, with Toyota executives finally confirming work on a Corolla GRMN hot hatch is underway.
The i30 N-rivalling hot hatch will be foreshadowed by the Corolla GR Sport, which is expected to be unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show in March. But while that model makes do with the current range of engines, it's understood Toyota is still deciding on an appropriate engine to power a genuine performance version of its top-selling Corolla.
"We are currently investigating what would be most effective for the European market, but a Corolla GRMN is certainly realistic. We are already working on that,” Toyota’s Deputy Chief Designer, Toshio Kanei, told Dutch publication AutoRAI.
‘The development takes place under the supervision of Toyota Gazoo Racing. This department has included the Corolla GRMN in the future plan, but for now the project is still in the planning stage.”
And contrary to Toyota’s current focus on fuel-efficient powertrains, executives have reportedly confirmed the go-fast engine will definitely not be a hybrid.
"The Toyota Corolla GRMN does not get a hybrid powertrain,” Kanei-san says. "We want more power, an even sportier engine and lower CO2 emissions. A four-cylinder turbo engine with an engine capacity of about 1.6-litres can be interesting.
"The car has a relatively short development time, because the basis is already there. TNGA forms an excellent basis. Developing the powertrain takes more time.”
Australian executives are understandably excited by the prospect of a hot hatch becoming available, with a spokesperson telling carsguide the company would "fighting hard" to bring any go-fast product to our shores.
"Any products that do become available, we'd be putting our hands up to bring them to the country as soon as we possibly can," he said.
"We’ve always been a nation that values perfomance vehicles, and we would be fighting hard to get any future products into the country when they become available."
The decision to suddenly focus on performance over boring was born of senior management's promise to build more exciting cars, and of Toyota’s new global architecture, the TGNA, which underpins everything from the new Camry to the C-HR. It means almost every model in the line-up could be in line for the go-fast treatment.
Speaking at international launch of the Supra prototype, Toyota’s GM of global communications, Jean-Yves Jault, told carsguide: "One of the things that happened when we started that company (Gazoo Racing) is that we shifted R&D resources to it. So it existed as a marketing activity in Japan, but now they have engineers, so they can decide what products to use for Gazoo Racing.”
Does Toyota have what it takes to mix it with the hot hatch heavyweights? Tell us in the comments below.