…but we’ll believe it when we see it.
The notion of a sub-GT 86 rear-wheel-drive sports Toyota is hardly a new one, and is one we previously discussed as recently as October 2012 and as long ago as August 2010, and the particulars remain much the same as we noted then: mechanical bits from Toyota’s sole remaining small and inexpensive rear-wheel-drive platform lurking under the Daihatsu Be‣go, Daihatsu Terios and Toyota Rush small SUVs which also formed the basis of the Gazoo Racing/MN FR Hot hatch and TES Concept T-Sports Tokyo Auto Salon projects.
The latest rumors in this regard come to us via Japan-based Australian journalist Peter Lyon, who occasionally showns the rumormonger sensibilities of, say, Auto Express or Japan’s Best Car. The twist in this latest story (as reported on Motor Trend‘s website) is that the sub-GT 86 RWD Toyota would not be a 150″ long (think 7″ shorter than the current Mazda MX-5 Miata) sports coupe powered by the Toyota Rush’s 1.5-liter, 109 bhp 3SZ-VE inline-4 engine mated to a 5-speed manual gearbox – as the 2010 rumors went – but rather, as Lyon notes, it will be a
…new fun-to-drive car (with) four seats, five doors, a 1.5-liter engine developing around 150 hp, and be aimed at a global audience no sooner than 2016. The new car will totally redefine the company’s entry-level sporty cars by taking on a new hatchback-style shape, a rear-drive platform and a naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine…the car will employ a sleek hatch-style silhouette and be priced around $20,000. A source told us that the hatch will employ a revised version of Toyota’s Rush mini-crossover pictured above but that the new iteration will employ a lower ride height and four-wheel independent suspension.
Certainly sounds like a true spiritual successor to the cult classic KP61 Toyota Starlet hatchback. And 100 hp-per-liter from a naturally-aspirated engine? None of Toyota’s current 1.5-liter engines (the aforementioned, Daihatsu-designed 3SZ-VE, the North America Yaris’ 1NZ-FE and the cheapo, VVT-i-less 2NR-FE from the India and Brazil-built Etios) produce anywhere near that much power. Sounds like, short of developing an all-new engine, the plan may well be to apply Toyota’s D4-S direct+port dual injection and give a high-revving, low-torque character to one of the existing 1.5-liter mills.
Some of the commentary on the Motor Trend forums cited fears that this hatchback would turn out to be heavier than the Toyota GT 86 / Scion FR-S / Subaru BRZ. Not necessarily, we say, if they made it small enough, and we’ll cite the fact that the B-segment Mazda2 hatchback, at 2306 lbs (1045 kg) is 141 lbs (63 kg) lighter than the lightest version of the current Mazda MX-5 Miata roadster. A bigger issue, though, might be a ridiculously tight back seat if Toyota goes too small with a RWD hatchback.
Maybe we’re getting carried away here, and, much as we’d love to see this become reality, we’re taking this rumor with a bagful of Kosher rock salt. Even Peter Lyon seems unsure, as he hedges his bets noting that
Whether such a car will make it from the drawing board all the way to showrooms around the world – or in the U.S. – remains to be seen, but we’re hopeful Toyota can prepare an rear-drive four-door hatch for about the same price as a base Toyota Camry.
Sure, we’re hopeful, too, and we would certainly love to see this become a reality. But we’re not holding our breath…