Toyota has reportedly u-turned on claims that it is considering a Gazoo Racing (GR) version of the Corolla, saying that a rival to Volkswagen Golf GTI will not become a reality soon.
Last year, former Toyota South Africa Managing Director and current Toyota Europe CEO, Dr Johan van Zyl, told Britain’s Auto Express that the 2.0-litre hybrid version of the Corolla sold in Europe stood the best chance of heading the hot hatch route as a GRMN model.
“Our aspiration is to offer a wide spread of GR vehicles to our customers to bring the excitement to the brand. So as we go along with our product range we will look at every one of the products and say ok what is possible? Does this model suit the GR brand? Can we make some excitement with it,” van Zyl told the publication
“I think that’s what we are trying to say with the fact we have launched the 2.0-litre hybrid in the Corolla range. We are saying it is possible. We can make a more exciting, sporty hybrid. The technology is there. It’s just the way you tune it”.
Despite a subsequent report from the Netherlands alleging that the Corolla GRMN could be offered with a conventional 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine, and comments by Toyota Europe Sales and Marketing Head Matthew Harrison in August this year to Automotive News Europe that hybrid badged GR models could become a realistic possibility by 2025, Toyota Australia Vice-President of Sales and Marketing, Sean Hanley, has now officially confirmed that there are “no plans” in place for a hot Corolla.
“I’m on record as saying that Australia and Australian consumers are very open to performance cars. So I do see a big opportunity for GR in Australia, but it has to be at the appropriate time and it has to be the appropriate product. So we would never rule it out, but we don’t have any announcements to make on Corolla GR,” Hanley told motoring.com.au.
The apparent axing of the Corolla GR is however thought to be as a result of it possibly clashing with the rumoured four-wheel-drive Yaris GR-4 set to debut this weekend at the closing round of the World Rally Championship (WRC) in Australia, although this is purely speculative.