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Red light for TRD Corolla

Sharp edge: The Japan-only Corolla Blade Master packs 200kW.

Toyota’s best-selling car is unlikely to join TRD stable

15 Nov 2007

TOYOTA Australia’s best selling model is unlikely to be given the TRD treatment.

Despite Corollas blitzing the competition in the Australian Rally Championship, Toyota Australia will not release a hot road-going version in the foreseeable future.

Toyota Australia is likely to announce a third TRD model, to follow the Aurion and HiLux, at some stage next year, but that model will not be a Corolla.

GoAuto can reveal the company did dabble with a performance Corolla, enhancing a version of the existing Corolla engine, but the performance improvements were simply not great enough.

“To throw on a turbocharger, a supercharger or modify the chip wouldn’t realise enough power for it to qualify as a true TRD model,” said Toyota Australia product planning manager Doug Soden.

GoAuto understands revisions made to the 1.8-litre four-cylinder only delivered a power increase of around 10 per cent, which would have taken peak engine output to 110 kW.

To put that in context, other force-fed hot hatches achieve outputs anywhere from 147kW to 190kW.

8 center imageLeft: Neal Bates in his TRD Corolla at the 2007 NGK Rally of Melbourne.

Another option was to import a Corolla fitted with a larger engine. Toyota Japan sells a model called the Blade, which runs a 123kW 2.4-litre four-cylinder.

As it is sold only in Japan, which has less stringent emission rules, substantial engineering homologation work would have had to be carried out for a limited performance advantage.

A range-topping model called the Blade Master is also only available in Japan and it packs a 200kW 3.5-litre V6, while independent rear suspension replaces the existing torsion beam arrangement.

All of the problems with emission standards and different homologation rules affect this model as well, even if a similar engine powers other models in Australia.

Another potential problem is a prohibitive price.

In Japan, the Blade Master is a prestige player and is loaded with luxury gear including high-end items like a leather-lined dashboard and keyless start, which could push the price of the TRD version well past what Australian customers would consider reasonable for a small Toyota hot hatch.

Mr Soden said Toyota Australia was still evaluating a TRD Corolla option, but said it would take a “stroke of brilliance” for it to appear within the next few years.

“We’d love to have a TRD Corolla, but we don’t have a firm plan,” he said.

Time is running out for a TRD Corolla given the development time required is likely to be between two to three years after a model has been signed-off.

Given the average life-cycle of a small car is around five years, any TRD Corolla would give Toyota less than two years to re-coup the investment before the model would be replaced. That factor alone could see the business case fall short.

Toyota Australia has a history of hot Corollas, producing a limited run of turbo models under the Sportivo banner in 2001.

That car ran a 1.8-litre four-cylinder that received a mild power boost when turbocharged to reach a power peak of 115kW.

The Sportivo name was applied to the Corolla again in 2003.

It used a high-revving version of the 2ZZ-GE engine, which produced 141kW and was also used to power the Celica.

That engine was not upgraded to meet new emission rules and was discontinued along with the Celica last year.

A new hot Corolla would allow Toyota Australia to better leverage its stunning success in the Australian Rally Championship this season.

Simon Evans and Neal Bates finished first and second respectively in the championship, while Mr Evans won every single heat of the season, an incredible feat in the grueling world of rallying.

Read more:

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