For years, the brass at Toyota was content to let cede the enthusiast market to other manufacturers, and focus solely on making bullet-proof cars that were more driving appliances than they were exciting machines. But when Akio Toyoda, the grandson of Toyota founder Kiichiro Toyoda, took over as company president in 2009, he immediately set out to instill Toyota’s vehicles with a fun factor, and focused on making everything in the lineup more engaging to drive.
The first vehicle we saw which signaled the new direction for the company was the Lexus LFA, an exotic sports car that boasted a sonorous V10 engine and a groundbreaking carbon fiber structure. While only 500 examples were produced, it was a stunning testament to what the company’s engineers could accomplish when given free reign, and foreshadowed vehicles like the LC 500, which features concept cars looks and grand touring driving dynamics.
More importantly, we’ve also seen affordable options like the 86, along with a new Camry sporting 300 horsepower, and the latest incarnation of the Supra is set to be unveiled next month at the Detroit Auto Show.
Now, our friends at Australia’s Car Sales are saying a hot hatch version of the Corolla is on the way, to offer some competition to the Volkswagen GTI, Honda’s Civic Type R, and the Hyundai i30 N. In our opinion, it would be a natural evolution, as 1980s versions of the Corolla — known by their chassis code AE86 — remains a popular choice for tuners and drifting. Since we saw strong interest in the Corolla hatch at SEMA this year, we think this is a no-brainer, and we should be seeing a hot hatch version at your local AutoNation Toyota dealer sooner rather than later.