We here at Roadshow like the new Toyota Corolla hatchback. It's a great value for money and with a manual transmission it's not too bad on a curvy back road either, but Toyota may be ready to turn up the wick on the humble front-driver by adding hybrid power.
Toyota making a performance hybrid? That's crazy talk, you say! But the hatchback's chief engineer seems to think it's a pretty good idea, going by statements he made to Australia's Drive magazine.
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"We don't have any detailed plans yet," said Yasushi Ueda, chief engineer for the Corolla hatchback. "Of course in the future the idea of a hot hybrid sounds very good."
If Toyota went the hybrid hot-hatch route, it would be a dramatic departure from literally every one of its competitors, all of which currently use a turbocharged four-cylinder engine for motive power, and while adding electrons would certainly give it the torque advantage from a dead stop, a hybrid system would likely add significant weight to the car.
One way to differentiate itself further would be to use the hybrid system to add all-wheel drive. Toyota has typically done this on other models by using the gasoline engine to drive the front wheels and an electric motor to drive the rear.
Where this gets complicated is in the options this leaves for transmissions. Would a hot hybrid Corolla get stuck with an automatic box or worse, some kind of diabolical "performance-tuned" CVT? Or would the big T figure out how to make its manual box work with the system?
This is all conjecture at this point, but hey, who doesn't love a bit of educated, yet still wild speculation?
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