It hasn't been the best of times for sporty hatchback fans who like Toyotas here recently. The brand discontinued the Yaris in America in 2020, so we didn't get the Gazoo Racing designed GR Yaris — which sounds like the most fun hot hatch on the planet on sale today. Toyota has been teasing a larger, more fitting hot hatch for America, the GR Corolla, which should get the same 1.6-liter engine from the Yaris with a bit more power and all-wheel drive. (Picture Toyota building a Golf R.) It sounds awesome, and a leak suggests it will arrive really soon. But Toyota may offer it with a feature you don't like.
The natural transmission for a GR Corolla — and any hot hatch, really — is a six-speed manual transmission. The GR Corolla, like the Yaris, should almost undoubtedly get that. But rumors from Best Car in Japan (first spotted by Motor1) suggest Toyota is considering offering an automatic option with it. And as it's a Corolla, it will likely be a CVT.
Adding an automatic option would make sense. Not many people buy manual transmission cars anymore. And even with a car with a super-high manual take rate like the Subaru WRX, having an automatic option can help broaden the niche car's appeal. The best way to #savethemanuals is to ensure a manufacturer sells enough of the cars that have them to make it worthwhile.
Truth be told, a CVT wouldn't be that out of place in a performance car. Enthusiasts hate them because they don't sound exhilarating. But the technology hasn't been kept out of race cars because it doesn't perform well; Formula 1 banned CVTs in the 1990s for being too good.
That said, we'd trade lap times that were a few ticks slower from a road car for more driving engagement any day.