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Toyota has released the upmarket version of its Blade hatchback in Japan. On sale as of yesterday, the Blade Master and Blade Master G come with the 2GR-FE 3.5L V6 as standard equipment. A substantial upgrade over the 2.4L four-cylinder offered in the lower Blade trim levels, the six pumps 276 horsepower and 253 lb-ft of torque to the front wheels via a 6-speed automatic with paddle shifters. Fuel economy is rated at around 23 mpg (compared to 31 mpg for the 4-cylinder), and a sportier suspension tune and larger disc brakes are also part of the package. In terms of appearance, the V6 Blades get a mesh-look grille and model-specific badging. Why should we care, you ask? Well, the speculation has been that we'll get the Blade as the replacement for the existing Matrix, albeit with a different face. Hence, the V6 model is significant, as such an offering here in the US would put the likes of the VW GTI and R32 on notice, at least in terms of on-paper performance stats. A Toyota hot hatch in the states? We'll have to wait and see.

[Source: Toyota]

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