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Toyota’s making a proper rally-bred hot hatch

Gazoo Supra and WRC special coming, while Toyota will continue to race at Le Mans, too

Toyota is set to make a fully homologated hot hatch. Or more specifically, its performance arm Gazoo Racing is.

Gazoo is in charge of Toyota’s motorsport activity – the World Rally Championship Yaris included – and thus far its most potent road car representation is the 209bhp Yaris GRMN. But Gazoo Racing head Shigeki Tomayama has told Top Gear a proper homologation special is coming.

“Gazoo will start with customised versions of standard cars,” he told us, referring to cars like the GRMN. “But soon you will see dedicated platform sports cars designed by Gazoo Racing. We have two projects running right now. One will be a sports car developed jointly with BMW,” he said, confirming the brand new Supra will come with Gazoo badges.

“The next will be a car that attains homologation for WRC,” Tomayama added. So while the Yaris GRMN nods to the WRC car, it’s essentially a tuned-up Yaris with little relation to the car on the stages. Next time around, that won’t be the case. When we pushed him for specs, he said “maybe you should ask Tommi Makinen!”

Makinen, if you need a reminder, is the former WRC champ who runs the Gazoo rally team. If he’s in charge, it ought to be a properly pumped-up hatch.

A four-wheel drive, circa-400bhp aero special, like the Yaris that currently competes in World Rallying? We can hope, but it’s a long while since homologating a rally car has meant simply peeling the stickers off, a la Ford RS200 or Peugeot 205 T16. If the Yaris is to sell in decent numbers, it probably has to be a bit tamer.

Meanwhile, Tomayama has assured us that dedicated Gazoo Racing cars will focus on lightness, while in the future they are likely to be hybrids, just like the GR HV concept on display at the Tokyo motor show.

“When we think of the future sports car, we put all of our focus on hybrid technology,” he said. “We don’t think EV, we think hybrid. Hybrids have always prioritised fuel efficiency, but now we focus on hybrids that run fast. And we’re focused on improving the heat efficiency of internal combustion engines to the maximum.”

Tomayama says Gazoo’s running of Toyota’s World Endurance Championship team is leading hybrid sports car development. So does that mean Toyota isn’t following rivals Porsche and Audi by quitting WEC? “Yes, we will continue,” he affirms. “We haven’t won Le Mans yet!”

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