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August 27, 2020

This Could be Our First Look at Toyota's Revived Starlet

Toyota is reviving the Starlet nameplate for 2021, and this is our first probable look. Discontinued in 1999 in favor of the Vitz/Echo and then the Yaris after that, the Starlet was Toyota’s OG subcompact hatchback.

Spied at a vehicle stockyard (photos from GaadiWaadi via Rushlane) destined for the African market though, the Starlet nameplate is coming back thanks to a re-badging arrangement with Suzuki. Backtracking a bit, the two carmakers entered into a technical partnership last year which sees Suzuki supply cars to Toyota for certain markets (Suzuki gets Toyota’s hybrid tech in return).

One of the first products born out of that partnership is the Toyota Glanza which is basically a re-badged Suzuki Baleno.

In its official press release, Toyota India didn’t even try to hide its Suzuki origins pointing out the Glanza’s HEARTECT platform and the 1.2-liter K Series engine shared lock, stock, and barrel with the Suzuki Baleno. In both versions, the manual version makes 83 horsepower and 113 Nm of torque, while the CVT, equipped with a mild-hybrid system ups the output to 90 horsepower.

Interestingly, Toyota now has plans to export the Indian-made Glanza to the African market in a bit to increase its presence there. A name change to “Starlet” coincides the export plans. The reason? The Starlet nameplate was once sold there.

Though Toyota could opt to restyle the Glanza before it makes its way to Africa, it’s highly unlikely. It’s more probable that the next-generation Starlet will be identical to the Indian-market Glanza, which is, in turn, a re-badged Suzuki Baleno.

It’s also unlikely that the Suzuki Baleno aka Toyota Glanza aka Toyota Starlet will be made available for the ASEAN market. Toyota’s partnership with brands such as Daihatsu are stronger over here. That said, there are reports that its next-generation small MPV might be done as a three-way collaboration with Suzuki. Now that could be exciting.

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