The Toyota Starlet is one of the many Japanese classics we'd love to revive. The small hatchback, available in two- and four-door variants, was quite the hit back in the late 70s to early 80s. If you ask your dads and titos, they might have even owned one before. Unfortunately, the Philippines never got the later-generation front-wheel-drive models that included the turbocharged Starlet Glanza variant. Then in 1999, the Starlet was discontinued.
Fast forward to March 2020, and we got word that the Starlet could return as Toyota re-filed the patent for the Starlet name. But was Toyota set to revive the model, or are just holding onto the monicker? Now, we have the answer, and Toyota has revived the name.
Welcome the 2021 Toyota Starlet.
Before you get too excited about the 2021 Starlet, it bears little resemblance to the popular hatchback from nearly 40 years ago. Instead, the Starlet now hails from India as a rebadged version of the Toyota Glanza hatchback. The new Starlet is not even a pure Toyota. The Glanza is, essentially, a rebadged the Suzuki Baleno also sold in the Indian market.
But since Toyota already has the Glanza in India, where will the Starlet be sold? Well, according to Toyota Tsusho (one of Toyota's trading companies), the 2021 Starlet is set to be sold in the African region starting mid-September this 2020. Specifically, the Starlet will help boost the brand's small vehicle sales on the continent in anticipation of the middle-class growth in the region. At the moment, there is no word whether the hatchback will make its way outside of Africa.
The 2021 Starlet looks identical to the Toyota Glanza (as you can see in this article's main image). The only visual differences we could see are the grille and wheels. That said, the rear and interior might look the same as well.
How big (or small) is the new Starlet? The subcompact hatchback measures in 3,995mm long, 1,745mm wide, and 1,470mm tall. Under the hood, the Starlet is powered by a 1.4-liter K14B engine that produces 95 horsepower and 130 Nm torque. It is available with a 4-speed automatic or a 5-speed manual. In comparison, this a larger motor as the Glanza in India uses a smaller 1.2-liter engine.
As mentioned earlier, the 2021 Starlet is for Africa. So the chance of Toyota Motor Philippines bringing in the hatchback is slim. It's nice to see that Toyota brought back the Starlet instead of just keeping the name, even if it is now a rebadged Suzuki.