Toyota is looking to develop a hot hatch based on its Yaris city car.
The hatch would form part of an expanded line-up of sports cars that would include a spiritual successor to the Supra and a small sports car to be positioned below the successful 86.
The cars are part of a plan by motorsport fan and Toyota boss Akio Toyoda to inject what he calls some "wow" into a brand that has been traditionally thought of as more dependable than daring.
Toyota's chief engineer for sports vehicles, Tetsuya Tada, said Toyoda had challenged him to create a stronger link between the company's motorsport activities and road cars. A hot hatch based on a world rally car would be one solution.
We need a real hot hatch
"We need a real hot hatch. I must create a real exciting hot hatch," he said.
Tada wouldn't discuss timing for a car, but Toyota's 2017 return to the World Rally Championship with the Yaris would seem the logical choice.
He said the hatch could become part of a special sports division within the company, similar to BMW's M division and Mercedes-Benz's AMG.
"We want to try same kind of thing," Tada said.
The company already sells a hot hatch based on the Yaris in the Japanese market. Called the Vitz GRMN, it puts out 112kW of power and 206Nm of torque.
Tada says chief rivals for a Toyota hot hatch would be the Ford Fiesta ST and Volkswagen Polo GTI.
The hatch is likely to follow a production version of the SF-R show car unveiled at the Tokyo motor show this week.
It's a natural progression for Toyota
Toyota Australia executive director of sales and marketing, Tony Cramb, welcomed the renewed focus on sports cars by head office. More than 15,000 86s have sold in Australia since its launch in 2012.
"It's a natural progression for Toyota, with its proud sports-car heritage, to investigate the possibilities for a fun-to-drive entry-level lightweight model such as the S-FR," he said.
"We would definitely be interested in adding it to our range in Australia should it ever become available to us," he said.
There has been speculation that the rear-drive two-door S-FR will be powered by a naturally aspirated 1.5-litre engine but Tada said the company was considering a smaller turbo engine or hybrid.
He said Toyota aimed to price the new model below the 86, which starts from just under $30,000. That could potentially make it the world's most affordable sports car.
"Everybody expects that the smaller sports car must be more affordable than 86," he said.
While the S-FR production vehicle would be modestly-powered, the Supra successor – developed jointly with BMW – would have "amazing performance".
But he said it would not necessarily have more horsepower than its rivals and could have a continuously variable transmission with artificial sequential shifts.
Tada wouldn't say which car would come first, but acknowledged all three concepts were taking time to move from concept to reality.
"They are coming soon. Please be patient," he said.