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The Toyota Celica Should Come Back … As a Hybrid

It seems like every of couple years, a rumor resurfaces that Toyota might be bringing the Celica back into production. For a long time, the Celica was part of the holy trinity of Toyota sports cars, the other two members being the mid-engine MR2 and the darling Supra. What made the Celica distinct was its front-wheel-drive configuration, which proved that FWD cars didn’t have to be boring. The worst thing about the most recent Celica was that it was basically a re-bodied Corolla, but the best thing about it was that it was basically a re-bodied Corolla: It had the reliability and all-season driveability of a front-wheel drive Toyota, looked pretty cool and was kind of fun to drive — especially in the sportier trims.

The Celica has been gone for a while now, and I hope we see it come back sometime soon. And I hope they make the next one a hybrid.

Hear me out. For most of the time hybrids have been around, they’ve been boring, dull-looking and largely devoid of any driving excitement. You get extra fuel economy, sure, but you have to sacrifice quite a bit in the coolness department. The best example of this is Toyota’s own Prius, which is still ugly as sin — but it’s a pragmatic choice for the discerning motorist who just needs a car with four wheels and an engine.

But it’s 2018. Hybrids have been part of the mainstream for two decades, and we’ve reached the point of hybrids having a performance benefit on top of a boost in fuel economy. As hybrid technology advances, the downsides of hybrids get engineered away. Toyota knows this better than anyone. If you compare hybrid luxury vehicles with their conventional counterparts, the performance specs often favor the hybrids. Just look at the crop of hybrid hypercars that have arisen in the form of the McLaren P1, the LaFerrari and the Porsche 918 Spyder.

Those hypercars are tremendous displays of engineering and technology, but they pose a problem to the average enthusiast. Most of us can’t come close to affording them, even if we sell our houses. Most of us will go our whole lives without ever even seeing any of those cars in person, much less all three. There’s a disturbing gap in hybrid performance cars, with the cheapest ones having 6-digit price tags — and that’s where the hybrid Toyota Celica could come in and scoop up all of the market share for a niche segment that doesn’t really exist yet.

I’m not saying the hybrid Celica needs to be a rocket, as that’s never what the Celica’s been about. It’s never been the fastest or sexiest car on the road — it’s always just been a fun, affordable sports car with a measure of practicality. That ethos can easily be packaged in a hybrid. Heck, give it the Prius drivetrain and give it more of a performance tune. If that means getting MPG in the 40s instead of the 50s, that’s fine. Hopefully, it would make other manufacturers follow suit. It could get Ford to hurry up on the hybrid Mustang that’s been promised. That would prompt a hybrid Camaro. Hybrid Honda Prelude, anyone? The possibilities are endless.

A hybrid Toyota Celica doesn’t have to be super fast or particularly groundbreaking. It just needs to be fun, efficient and affordable. If anyone can pull that off, it’s Toyota. Find a Toyota Celica for sale

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Eric Brandt
Eric Brandt is an author specializing in Oversteer content, new car reviews, and finding the best car, truck, and SUV deals each month. Born and raised in Wisconsin, Eric can often be found exploring the north woods on his 1983 Honda Gold Wing when the weather allows it. Father of four, husband of one, and unapologetic minivan enthusiast. Eric mastered driving stick by having a 3-cylinder Chevy... Read More about Eric Brandt

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  1. The hybrid market is dead, SUV and gas guzzler cars are in fashion with low gas prices.  Please don’t wish us back to the days of fwd mediocre sport cars like the Celica, Eclipse, Probe and Cougar.   Its what led everyone to rice out their cars, because they were boring, slow and people wanted more out of them. We’re living in the days where rwd has become popular again.

  2. A budget BMW i8, in other words.  I would buy into the idea more if Toyota didn’t completely burn their sports car brands into the ground during the Beigeopocalypse, I do not trust them to do it right, as other commenters have pointed out in the case of the Honda CR-Z.

  3. The Scion TC was essentially a Celica, if you think about it. A model that had some popularity for awhile, but not enough to keep it after the Scion brand was folded into Toyota. As for a hybrid resurrection of the Celica name, I can’t help thinking of the tepid response Honda got to the CR-Z, which evoked past sporty Hondas but disappointed people who wanted performance and couldn’t build up its own following of eco-oriented buyers.

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