Makinen lent his name to fast Mitsubishi Evos. Now the rally team he runs may help bring to life a hot Yaris.
By most measures, the 2017 World Rally Championship is looking quite interesting at the moment. No less than five manufacturers will be participating in next year's top-tier rally series (four of which being represented through works teams), and the revised technical regulations should further spice up the action. Of perhaps most interest to us, though, is how the carmakers will utilize the WRC connection in their road cars, with Auto Express reporting that Toyota's very keen on making a rally-inspired performance vehicle.
According to Toyota Motor Europe's CEO, Dr. Johan van Zyl, the plan is to incorporate some aspects of its World Rally Championship activities into the road car, with Dr. van Zyl going as far to say "it's no use doing motorsport if you don't reflect it in your product". The fact Dr. van Zyl went on to declare that he'd ideally like to see a vehicle that would appeal to "real enthusiasts" only further fans the flames of speculation that we'll see a sportier hatchback model offered by Toyota at some point. Even though it almost certainly won't be any near as outlandish as the Toyota Yaris WRC car as shown earlier this year at the Paris Motor Show.
Nevertheless, it's still cool to hear that Toyota's at least considering a hot hatch version of the Yaris, and especially one that links the WRC car to the production vehicle. However, there is one specific fly in this motorsports-derived ointment: Dr. van Zyl declared the intention is to concentrate these WRC-inspired efforts at least initially in the European market - thus potentially meaning we may at best be late in the hot hatch Yaris party, or at worst be denied access to the car outright. Fingers crossed enough American gearheads scream loudly enough to convince Toyota that, yes, a Yaris hot hatch based off the WRC car is indeed a performance vehicle we'd very much love to drive on US roads.