Toyota's new GR hot hatch is heading to America

Toyota unveiled the GR Yaris hot hatch earlier this year. Yes, the Yaris nameplate is not associated with tire-squealing antics, but the GR version has all the right ingredients of a fun to drive and practical hatchback. It's essentially a next-generation rally car for the street with all-wheel-drive, a turbocharged three-cylinder engine, and a manual gearbox. However, the Euro-version Yaris hatchback was never sold in North America, and the same fate beholds the GR model.

All hope is not lost, however. In a surprising announcement last week, Toyota made it official: U.S. customers are getting a GR hot hatchback very soon, perhaps by early 2021. Toyota went as far as saying "the GR Yaris stirred an outcry in North America over its absence" and "perhaps it's time the U.S. got a Toyota hot hatch to call its own," and we couldn't agree more.

However, this got us thinking. The Yaris hatch and GR Yaris are riding on Toyota's TNGA-B platform, and the Yaris sold in the U.S. are still based on restyled versions of the Mazda2 sedan and hatchback. This points us to the bigger TNGA-C platform which currently underpins the Toyota C-HR, Prius, and Corolla Hatchback.

Meanwhile, alarm bells started ringing when Toyota filed trademarks for the Corolla Cross moniker, a car which is based on the same TNGA-C platform as the Corolla hatch.

Also, we're familiar with the Yaris Cross, which happens to be a slightly high-riding crossover version of a standard Yaris hatch – also based on Toyota's B-segment platform. We also know Toyota is retooling its factory in Huntsville, Alabama to build a small new SUV in cooperation with fellow Japanese carmaker Mazda.

Admittedly, it seems Toyota is also building a more rugged version of the CH-R on the same platform, but we think its also preparing for the production of the GR Corolla Cross.

If all of this is true, the 2021 Toyota GR Corolla Cross is poised to do battle with the Nissan Rogue Sport and Subaru Crosstrek. But unlike the aforementioned competitors, the new GR Corolla Cross will have a raucous 1.6-liter turbocharged four-banger with 257-horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque.

Apparently, this small yet feisty motor can rev happily to 7,000 rpm, which means you'll be smiling from ear-to-ear as the turbo four-pot sings gloriously towards the redline.

And yes, the GR Corolla Cross might also come with a standard six-speed manual transmission and a permanent all-wheel-drive system. In the GR Yaris, the AWD system has a Torsen limited-slip differential for the front and rear axle. This enables the system to alter the torque feed between the front and rear wheels depending on the chosen driving mode. Normal mode is a 60:40 split between the front and rear axle, but the system can send up to 100-percent of torque to either the front or rear wheels.

All of this sounds good, but is the new Toyota GR hot hatchback worthy of raising the flag against its rally-bred Yaris GR cousin? We'll find out soon enough.