THE return of the Toyota Supra may be attracting all the headlines, but it’s what’s happening in the background at next week’s Geneva motor show that has us excited – an all new Toyota Corolla hatch is coming.
Okay, so “Corolla” and “excited” have never really featured much in the same sentence when referring to the best-selling passenger car in Australia for several years running. However, this one is expected to move to the Toyota New Generation Architecture, the same all-new platform that underpins the Toyota Prius, Toyota C-HR and the now fully imported Toyota Camry.
And there’s one defining character of TNGA we like: It introduces a liberal dose of driver enjoyment, something that’s been missing from Toyota’s DNA for the last couple of decades.
The Japanese car maker has released only a single teaser image of the 2019 Toyota Corolla, but we can already see the the reimagined hatch wants to shake off some of the dowdy, conservative looks of the past. Looking lower, longer and more sculpted than the generation it will replace, it appears the Corolla is looking to tug the emotional heartstrings of buyers.
Wearing a new headlight signature up front with what appear to be integrated LED daytime running lamps, other notable changes include a wing mirror attached to the door skin rather than plugged into the corner of the A-pillar, a more swept roofline and higher waistline that reduces the size of the glasshouse, and a short rear overhang.
Of note, too, is a contrasting roof colour – a design element rolled out on the C-HR that Toyota appears to be keen to introduce across more models.
The Corolla’s more stylish exterior, and the MacPherson front/double-wishbone rear suspension system that TNGA introduces, also gives Toyota’s Gazoo Racing sub-brand something to work with. The car maker has made no secret of its desire to have its motorsport division develop road-going cars, with the Toyota Corolla GR expected to one day take on the likes of the soon-to-arrive Hyundai i30 N, the Volkswagen GTI and the Peugeot 308 GTi.
Toyota Australia has not yet announced plans to introduce Gazoo Racing-fettled cars here, although it says it is still interested in the idea of pitching something into the hot hatch segment. Toyota has already produced GR-badged cars for other markets, and last year teased a more performance-honed version of the C-HR small SUV featuring a "Hy-Power" petrol-electric hybrid drivetrain.
The car maker released a statement at the same time as the Hy-Power's reveal saying it would have more details “regarding the significant and strategic future development of higher performance hybrid options" early this year, although that is expected to be a hybrid version of the reborn Toyota Supra hat's also expected at Geneva, although in race car rather than road-going spec.
A future hybrid version of the Corolla is also expected, with speculation hinting that it could step up from its current 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine to a 2.0-litre version that brings more fuel-saving torque to the petrol-electric party.