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Toyota Starlet Rebirth Is The Best News Since The GR Yaris

It sounds like the 1990s, Japanese pocket rocket from Toyota is making a comeback. GR Starlet is on the way, and it will no longer be a rebadged Suzuki.

Toyota is on a roll reviving iconic names and it seems they are not limited to the brand's SUV models. An iconic hot hatchback from Toyota is making a comeback. The Toyota Starlet was what we got before the Toyota Yaris, but the name was dropped after five generations spanning 26 years (1973-1999). The Toyota Starlet is not only making a comeback, but there will also be a GR variant. 

The Toyota Starlet actually made a comeback in some markets, as a rebadged, more upscale variant of the current Suzuki Baleno. There was also a rally variant of that car powered by a 2.0-liter turbo-four and featuring all-wheel drive. This begs the question, what will be powering the next-generation Starlet? 

Reports from Japan indicated that Toyota is teaming up with subsidiary Daihatsu and Suzuki to collaborate on what was believed to be the next-generation Toyota MR-2. While this may still be the case, it seems the next-generation Toyota Starlet is also a co-development between the three companies.  

Rendered images from Best Car Web show the future Toyota Starlet as a neo-retro hot hatch inspired by the 1990s model. For copyright reasons, we won't be using those, but you can refer to the link above.  

The styling of the Toyota hot hatch is not yet confirmed, but the Japanese publication has given us fairly accurate representations of what is to come. I reported on an upcoming Toyota Starlet back in 2021, but since, there have been more developments surrounding the future of the Starlet. 

Japanese publication Best Car Web reported that in February 2024, Toyota President, Tsuneharu Sato, stated that in Japan, Daihatsu will define its business as a company centered around compact vehicles. The new Starlet will, reportedly, be based on the DNGA (Daihatsu New Global Architecture) platform, which to no surprise, shares similarities with the TNGA platform. 

A GR Starlet makes sense even more considering the Starlet of old had a high-performance, Toyota Starlet Glanza V model, powered by a 1.3-liter turbo-four engine.

The regular versions will, likely, utilize a Suzuki-sourced, 1.0-liter turbo-three mild-hybrid, while the GR Starlet will receive the GR Yaris’ 1.6-liter turbo-three. A 1.3-liter, 150-horsepower variant is also mentioned for the non-GR version of Toyota Starlet. This could, likely, be a GR Sport variant, positioned below the 1.6-liter GR Starlet. 

The engine is already homologated for use in rallying by the Toyota GR Yaris, which is a limited-production homologation special. While the GR Yaris is already a force to be reckoned with in WRC's Rally 1 category, the Starlet will go head-to-head with Rall 4 contenders like the Renault Clio and Ford Fiesta ST. This isn't the first time manufacturers have homologated a powertrain in one model for motorsport application in a different model.  

How much will the new Toyota Starlet cost? 

In Japan, the regular Starlet is expected to have an estimated price of 2.5 to 2.8 million yen, which is $15,950-$17,860. Toyota Starlet doesn't have a rich history as a US-offered model. The Starlet is more popular in Japan and Europe, but was also offered in the US between 1981 and 1984. Toyota Yaris was discontinued for the US market, which leaves space for a new model. Can this be the Starlet? 

Considering the popularity of cars like the Ford Fiesta in the US, would you buy a Toyota Starlet if it arrives to North American shores? Please click the red link below to write your comment and express your opinion.

About the author

Dimitar Angelov's automotive interests made him an expert in a wide variety of vehicles. Japanese brands like Toyota are closest to his heart, although performance cars in general are his favorite segment, which is why he is constantly on the lookout for the best deals on the market. Dimitar Angelov's car passion and knack for the written word led him to complete a Master of Arts in Media and Communications, and classic car restoration. Dim is happy to get behind the wheel of any car and share his impressions. You can follow Dimitar on XLinked-inInstagram, and Facebook.

Image source: Toyota South Africa


greyed (not verified)    May 9, 2024 - 10:14PM

Nowhere in the BestCarWeb article does it mention the GR Starlet getting the 1.6l engine.
"The engine is likely to be based on the GR Yaris's 1.6L straight 3DOHC turbo (G16E-GTS type) with displacement down to 1.3L"