By on January 13, 2017

Toyota Yaris hot hatch

Toyota promised the world a Yaris hatchback that would valiantly rise above the role of a plain-Jane commuter car, and here it is.

Expected to premiere at the Geneva Motor Show this March, the high performance three-door subcompact borrows inspiration, parts, and probably a name from Toyota’s Gazoo racing division. 

The automaker claims the hot Yaris makes more than 210 horsepower, likely from a tamed-down version of the turbocharged 1.6-liter engine found in its recently released WRC rally car. It also previews design changes coming to the entire Yaris lineup.

new-yaris-rear-final

Gazoo is to Yaris as TRD is to Tacoma, so buyers should expect a vastly improved suspension setup, as well as other upgraded components. Because the Yaris has so far avoided being associated with either performance or handling, the new variant might come as a bit of a shock. Still, Toyota is determined to shake up its staid and sensible image.

Many details of the muscular hatch remain a mystery, but the biggest question is: will Toyota bring it to North America? So far, the automaker won’t say.

With 210-plus horsepower on tap, the model surpasses the output of the popular Ford Fiesta ST, and would send ripples through the hot hatch segment. It makes sense from a PR perspective, too. Fielding something youthful and fun, especially in a low-priced segment, would give Toyota an opportunity to be noticed for something other than long-term reliability.

[Images: Toyota]

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58 Comments on “Here’s Your Hot Toyota Yaris Hatch; Does the U.S. Want It?...”


  • avatar
    Cactuar

    No because for not much more money you can get a WRX.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Well, it can’t be worse than the base, Toyota-built Yaris.

    Now, what I’d REALLY love is a hot version of the Mazda-built Yaris iA, in hatchback form. Mazdaspeed 2, anyone?

  • avatar
    nels0300

    Too small.

    Corolla Im hot hatch please.

    • 0 avatar
      Jean-Pierre Sarti

      plenty of people in my neck of the woods drive fiat 500 abarth. so it seems to me fiat should really be worried about a toyota competitor.

    • 0 avatar
      threeer

      Yeah, I think the iM would be a better hot hatch. Can’t see many folks stepping up to buy a Yaris…in any configuration. But atta boy to Toyota for trying.

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      Toyota will be running the Yaris (not the iM, not the iA, not the Corolla) in this year’s World Rally Championship, so it makes sense that the Yaris is the first Gazoo-tuned model.

      And I do expect that this can significantly outsell the Abarth, and maybe even the Fiesta, given that Ford dealers are most interested in moving F-150s.

    • 0 avatar
      Kenn

      Too small, and oddly-proportioned.
      In North America, at least, a higher-performance (while already much better looking) iM would get a lot more interest.

  • avatar
    heavy handle

    Fatter, uglier Abarth with slightly more power, for more money.

    I’m sure it will find a market. The Abarth has incredible steering responsiveness, which this Toyota won’t (and no Toyota has ever had), but the Yaris is almost big enough to fit rear passengers on a regular basis.

    • 0 avatar
      Jean-Pierre Sarti

      the problem with the Abarth, and i concede this is only anecdotal, is that fiat has done very little to get away from Fix It Again Tony…my neighbor’s 500 abarth has been to the dealer more than it has been to a gas station in the 6 months he has owned it.

      i see that the truedelta stats on the 500 is not very encouraging either.

      EDIT: your definition of incredible steering must be different than mine, it was good but let’s not go crazy…

  • avatar
    TDIandThen....

    More hot hatch MOAR me want yessss.

    If they can make it look sleepy from the outside and improve sound insulation / seat comfort for longer rides, my search for next might just be settled. In 2019 or something I guess here in Quebec.

    I think the render is kind of ugly and I’m still ready to buy. It’s at least theoretically above the FiST on my list. Etc.

    Now about that Honda Fit si….

    • 0 avatar
      yamahog

      Honda Fit Si.

      It’s so sad. All Honda has to do is drop in a K20 from a 2006-2011 Honda Civic Si. 200 hp, 8k redline, perfect. A ton of tuners have done it in the Fit and the CRZ but a professional swap costs darn near as much as the cars.

      It’d be so nice, 200 hp, 6 speed, and the utility of a fit. I was very, very close to buying a Fiesta ST but the packaging was a deal breaker, it’d be too tough for me to do my chores in a Fiesta ST. But alas…

      • 0 avatar
        TDIandThen....

        Me too brother, meee too. Fiesta is just a little too use-less but the kicker for me was the recent shenanigans of Ford’s CEO crying for corporate welfare from Trump. The whole damn brand is off my list for this buying cycle.

  • avatar
    sirwired

    I don’t see this working. The current iteration of the Fiesta, in it’s more-pedestrian forms, has a reputation as Cheap and Cheerful transportation. The Yaris? “I couldn’t afford a Corolla, but really wanted to drive a Toyota”.

    – “I totally would have gotten a Yaris instead of a FiST if only it was souped up!” – Said Nobody Ever.

    • 0 avatar
      heavy handle

      The Yaris has always been the smart person’s Corolla in Canada. It’s cheaper, just as roomy, just as durable, and more fun to drive. We love a value, and we love cars that you can toss around in the snow.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      “I totally would have gotten a Yaris instead of a FiST if only it was souped up!” – Said Nobody Ever.

      If they want to change that reputation, they have to start somewhere.

      • 0 avatar
        sirwired

        But the place to start would be a better base model, not souping up a Penalty Box.

        • 0 avatar
          heavy handle

          Try one. The Yaris is way better than people’s social-status insecurities would have them believe. Beats the Corolla every day, in every way.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            I did try the Yaris. It’s utterly outclassed by several other cars in its’ class, most notably the Mazda-built Yaris iA sitting next to it on the dealer’s lot.

            I think Toyota is banking on the idea that folks who buy a Yaris are pre-sold on Toyota reliability, or are just chucking in the old one in that they’ve been leasing for the last three years, and won’t even drive anything else. Ditto for the Corolla.

            Toyota’s competition has largely caught up reliability-wise.

          • 0 avatar
            30-mile fetch

            Toyota wasn’t banking at all on the outgoing Yaris. They put zero effort into it, probably cared very little that such a low margin entrant sold poorly, and then simply paid Mazda to make the new one for them because they have bigger fish to fry.

            It wouldn’t take much to get the outgoing Yaris up to snuff for a hot hatch: better ergonomics (telescoping wheel and bolstered seats) and a better powertrain would do it.

          • 0 avatar
            th009

            The iA/Vios sedan (XP150) is not replacing the Yaris/Vitz hatch (XP130); it’s a companion model for markets that demand sedans.

          • 0 avatar
            heavy handle

            FreedMike, it sounds like you don’t like Toyota’s products (Yaris or Corolla). No problem, it’s not for everybody, even if they do aim for a broad audience. I was comparing one to the other, but you like different type of fruit.

            Mazda makes a nice product as well, but I find that their claims of “better handling” are exaggerated, and their claims of “we fixed the bubonic plague-like rust” are premature.

            Long story short: Toyota’s small cars do not appeal to you. The Yaris in this story is one of Toyota’s small cars. It does not appeal to you.

          • 0 avatar
            TDIandThen....

            HeavyHandle is right for us’ns in the North. Fiesta ST comes in at $27k in Canadian pesos, which is close enough to base GTI territory to make you say wtf – not cheap. A Yaris R here for less than the FiST will do very well, the Yaris is already all over Montreal.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            @heavyhandle:
            “Long story short: Toyota’s small cars do not appeal to you. The Yaris in this story is one of Toyota’s small cars. It does not appeal to you.”

            Yep, I’ll go with that being the Cliff Notes version of my post.

            But I *did* try a Yaris out, as you said. So I’m not blindly making a judgment.

          • 0 avatar
            SirRaoulDuke

            @ heavy handle: I owned a Mazda3s hatch manual for a while, and I can assure you the claims of handling over a Toyota are not exaggerated. I mean it was night and day better. I am an absolute hooligan on the backroads and the Mazda did things a FWD compact has no business doing, and I did these things with confidence. As a 25 year resident of WV and a backroad bomber I will put my qualifications to claim that up against anyone.

            I gave the Mazda to my daughter because I wanted her to learn to drive a manual and I wanted her to learn how to drive a car that actually handles decent. I now have a Hyundai, which I think is pretty equal to a damn Corolla in handling and better than a Yaris, and it is not even the same ballgame. I don’t even try the same crap, and I am nut. The responsiveness, the trust is just not there. I can still out-drive these flatlanders around here after my move (gawd Indiana has a lack of fun roads), but I am missing something that is quite quantifiable and subjective.

        • 0 avatar
          brenschluss

          A base Fiesta is absolutely a penalty box. I don’t see much of a difference between that and a Yaris.

          Make it an ST and it’s still a bit rattly and loud and indifferently screwed together, but it rips and it’s dirt cheap, so those things become acceptable.

          I bought one when it became clear that a WRX hatch wasn’t happening, and I absolutely would have looked at this were it available. If I don’t mind driving a Fiesta, you bet I wouldn’t mind driving a Yaris, if it can do work.

          What this car will really need to overcome are the years of lavish praise which have been heaped on the FiST. It needs to be an extraordinarily good drive to get a slice of what’s a very small pie to begin with.

          • 0 avatar
            ToddAtlasF1

            I’ve driven pretty much everything in the class, and the Fiesta makes the Yaris look like it should have a Lexus badge. Interior door locks and door pulls? A Fiesta driver cares not for these things!

    • 0 avatar

      – “I totally would have gotten a Yaris instead of a FiST if only it was souped up!” – Said Nobody Ever.

      I’ve said it and I’ll say it again.

  • avatar
    brettc

    I’d consider one used, but probably wouldn’t actually buy one. Can they not offer an iM with that engine? Seems like a no-brainer.

  • avatar
    turbo_awd

    Too small. The guys who appreciate/like hot hatches (like me, in my 40s, who’d buy a new STI hatch, if they made one) need practical room in the back. If the rear seats are useless or not needed, I’d get a Mustang or Camaro – you can get a lightly used V8 Camaro for the price of this thing.

    • 0 avatar
      scott25

      Some people like myself have zero need of a back seat, but don’t want a convertible (Miata), don’t want to sit on the ground (Toyobaru twins) and don’t want a “look at me”/mid life crisis car (muscle cars), so hot hatch it is.

      • 0 avatar
        th009

        And if you live in a city, a hot Yaris is massively more practical than a muscle car. (Hatchback, parking space requirement, visibility.)

        I really don’t think this will lose many sales to muscle cars.

    • 0 avatar
      yamahog

      It ain’t over till the fat lady sings.

      Isn’t the FiST a 2 door hatch in Europe? They made it a 4 door for America. The rear seat of the 2-door Yaris is at least as accommodating as the rear set of the Camaro and the Yaris is probably bigger (definitely has more headroom) and if the rear seats fold flat, it could be a more than adequate car for many people.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    That looks like the existing Yaris platform. In which case they’d better work on driver ergonomics.

    A new hot hatch is a good thing, from any maker. 210 horsepower in a platform that light should be very quick, and even the stale outgoing Yaris could handle if you opted for the SE:

    http://www.caranddriver.com/reviews/2012-toyota-yaris-se-test-review

    So while it’s bad to look at and I don’t want the word Gazoo associated with any car I drive, it could be a very fun car to drive. So don’t write it off yet just Because Toyota.

  • avatar
    Fonzy

    I hope they create a hot hatch racing league in the US. This with the FiST, Mini Cooper, and GTI could be fun.

  • avatar
    MrIcky

    Toyota is taking it’s first tiny steps toward not being somewhat almost interesting instead of just reliable. I am not this cars target demographic but I applaud them for stepping outside the (refrigerator) box.

    Toyota used to make some interesting stuff so even though it’s been dormant, I know they have it in them somewhere.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    This is what “we were waiting for”? New Camry SE looks “hotter”

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    I’m excited for any hot French-built car.

    /end sarcasm

  • avatar
    OzCop

    At 210 hp it has the same power as my JCW Mini Cooper. Unless it weighs in at less than 2500 lbs, I think I would keep the Mini. Performance wise, in SCCA Solo competition, the Mini is no match for the WRX, given it’s limited wheel width and tire size availability, (215 45 17 or 18 vs the AWD WRX with available 255 35 18 or 17 on a wider wheel) yet they are classed together. I can see the Yaris variant above being classed right along with the JCW and WRX. Appearance wise, that front emblem nose is far too annoying…and ugly.

  • avatar
    scott25

    My first car was a Yaris, and I didn’t have any problems with it whatsoever or really have anything bad to say about it (or anything particularly good either), but that was back in 2008 when the Yaris was sort of up to date. Now, it’s not, and it’s outclassed by pretty much everything else in its class. That said, and as has been evident from the comments here, the Yaris has a much better reputation (and sales) in Canada than the US.

    I will absolutely buy this if:
    1. It doesn’t have an obnoxious body kit like the Fiesta ST (there’s no way that will happen though, with Toyota’s current styling trends)
    2. It’s available without Recaros/any other seats it’s impossible to fit into if you weigh over 180 pounds. You can’t get the FIST or FOST without Recaros in Canada and that’s the main deal breaker for me.
    3. It’s available with an automatic/DCT, since as I often say I have zero interest in a manual daily driver. It should be since it’s a Toyota and they generally don’t sell anything in North America manual-only.

    Agree totally that the IM makes way more sense as a hot hatch though. It’s a great looking car and seems practical, just saddled with traditional Toyota dynamics and power.

  • avatar

    I’m really looking forward to this, as this is exactly what I’m looking for. Fun, tossable with a bit of power and priced well.

  • avatar
    tjh8402

    As the owner of one of this car’s prospective hot hatch rivals, I would welcome it to the market. As much as I love my car’s personality and character, I wouldn’t mind getting some Japanese sensibility with it next time around. I will be eagerly awaiting and hoping for good news from Toyota about the car’s North American launch.

  • avatar
    incautious

    Toyota/Lexus making some of the Fugliest cars out there.

  • avatar
    ptrxly

    If I could learn to live with the ugly front end, the 13 more HP and 200+# less weight than my Fiesta ST, the Yaris may make a suitable replacement. That is if the price is right…( I paid Cdn$22,000 for the FiST) and I am one of the lucky ones that do fit into the spectacular Recaros.

  • avatar

    Make it a 4 door and I like it.

  • avatar
    Trucky McTruckface

    Why would anyone anywhere want this? It’s a remarkably ugly 6+ year old frump mobile from a company with a longstanding reputation for its abject failure to produce engaging vehicles. The subcompact hot hatch segment is already full of entries (that no one buys) from manufacturers that actually know what they’re doing.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Whatever this exercise is costing Toyota is money better spent on producing a new Yaris that doesn’t completely suck. They should be f*cking embarrassed that they’re still selling this thing with a four speed automatic.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      Calm down now, Angry Internet Guy.

      The four speed won’t be in this. The Fiesta has a Powershift that sucks, but does that matter for the ST?

      The chassis is already capable:
      http://www.caranddriver.com/reviews/2012-toyota-yaris-se-test-review

      They already know what they’re doing:
      http://www.caranddriver.com/comparisons/habemus-papem-2013-bmw-335i-m-sport-vs-2013-cadillac-ats-36-2014-lexus-is350-f-sport-comparison-test

      http://www.motortrend.com/cars/audi/a6/2012/six-cylinder-midsize-luxury-sedans/

      https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/05/review-toyota-camry-se-2-5l-track-tested/

      It’s a small niche, but Mini and Fiat look like reliability nightmares in any survey available to buyers, so anyone disinterested in that drama will be choosing between this and the Fiesta ST. We get mad at Toyota for not making interesting cars. Then we get mad when they do.

  • avatar
    Pete Zaitcev

    I’d take a good look at this if I haven’t switched to SUVs.

  • avatar
    Maymar

    I’m not sure there’s been a hot hatch that’s had a great reliability rep since Honda dropped the RSX and 3-door Civic Si, so I’m glad Toyota’s trying something.

    I will echo the comments though, that a hopped up Corolla iM would be a nice addition.

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