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It's happening! Re-birth of Toyota Celica, Chairman Toyoda and CEO Sato dropped some clues

Hans · May 5, 2023 11:33 AM

It's happening! Re-birth of Toyota Celica, Chairman Toyoda and CEO Sato dropped some clues 01

When the Toyota GR Supra was first revived in 2018, then President and CEO Akio Toyoda had expressed hopes of having ‘three brothers’ of sports cars to complete the line-up, joining the GR 86.

The MR2 and Celica were obvious candidates, but work along this direction went quiet as Toyota introduced the GR Yaris and GR Corolla.

It's happening! Re-birth of Toyota Celica, Chairman Toyoda and CEO Sato dropped some clues 02

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The sports car market is an incredibly difficult one to make a successful business case. Very few buyers are willing to put their money where their mouth (or keyboard strokes) say, but everyone has strong opinions regarding how the car should be.

Even the supposedly driver-focused BMW no longer bothers with this market, and the BMW Z4 only exists because Toyota was willing to foot half the development cost.

Only Mazda (MX-5) and Toyota are still committed to building (relatively) affordable sports cars outside the Porsche 718 price band.

It's happening! Re-birth of Toyota Celica, Chairman Toyoda and CEO Sato dropped some clues 01

Celica GT-Four ST165 - the beginning of the Celica legend in WRC

Now, talks of a new generation Toyota Celica (sorry MR2 fans) is gaining traction once more, and the trigger came from Chairman Akio Toyoda himself.

At the sidelines of March’s Shinsiro Rally 2023 in Japan, WRC legend Jari-Matti Latvala did a demonstration run with a classic Celica GT-Four ST165 to entertain the crowd.

Among those given taxi rides in the Celica is Akio Toyoda, himself also an accomplished rally driver racing under the pseudonym Morizo.

It's happening! Re-birth of Toyota Celica, Chairman Toyoda and CEO Sato dropped some clues 02

Putting Jari in a Celica ST165 with Akio Toyoda present is not a coincidence.

For context, watching Carlos Sainz and Juha Kankkunen piloting a Celica GT-Four was the motivation that made a young Jari-Matti Latvala to want to become a rally driver. And he is a huge Celica fan, always to keen to share the emotional experience to younger fans. He has previously spoke about his passion for the Celica in the video below:

When asked by the emcee what are his thoughts on the Celica, Akio said "I feel like I want a car called Celica again."

“The Celica has been active in the WRC before, and in that sense, I think the names like Corolla, Yaris, and Celica are very meaningful names for rally fans.

“There was a time when Toyota temporarily stopped producing various cars. However, recently, some of the names of these old cars have been revived, so I have faint hopes that our new president Sato will continue this trend.”

It's happening! Re-birth of Toyota Celica, Chairman Toyoda and CEO Sato dropped some clues 03

Koji Sato has previously said he has ambitions of reviving the Celica, but the project must of course be profitable, which is difficult for small sports cars

Although Akio Toyoda has since passed the responsibility of making business decisions to President Koji Sato, the Chairman will not make reckless comments that will harm the work of his successor Sato, whom he handpicked and groomed for many years, first as chief engineer of the Lexus LC, and later as President of Lexus International as well as Gazoo Racing.

Koji Sato, who owns a restored Toyota AE86, has also previously said that it is his dream to revive the Celica name.

It's happening! Re-birth of Toyota Celica, Chairman Toyoda and CEO Sato dropped some clues 04

Two times five equals ten, so is five times two. Short of making an official press statement with a timeline commitment, you can be certain that the two Toyota leaders are working on a new generation Toyota Celica.

However, the revived Celica is unlikely to be powered by a regular combustion engine.

By the time the revived Celica hits the market, it would be well into the second half of this decade and Euro 7 emission regulations would will make such cars impossible to sell in Europe, the spiritual home of rallying and a key market for such cars.

The new generation Toyota Celica will most likely be a hybrid sports car – a genre which was first pioneered by the Honda CR-Z, which if you think about it, was a Celica successor with a Honda badge.

We still don’t know if the next generation Celica will be a front-wheel drive or rear- / four-wheel drive but considering that Akio mentioned it in the context of a rally race, with the ST165 GT-Four, it will most likely be the latter.

Hans

Head of Content

Over 15 years of experience in automotive, from product planning, to market research, to print and digital media. Garages a 6-cylinder manual RWD but buses to work.

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