Toyota. Yaris. Two words that don’t really instill excitement. The Toyota Yaris that Filipinos know is a humble hatchback that’s short of track performance. Sure, you can modify it to give it more grunt and course prowess, but right off the showroom? It’s just as pedestrian as its sedan brother, the Vios.
But adding two letters into the nomenclature does make things more interesting. More powerful. More worthy of enthusiasts’ attention – the Toyota GR Yaris.
If that GR prefix sounds familiar, yes, it’s the same as the one added on the latest Supra. “GR” stands for Gazoo Racing – the automaker’s recent racing division. The same team that’s behind the GR010 bound for Le Mans and the blueprint of the road-going production Toyota hybrid hypercar.
And yes, the Toyota GR Yaris is very much worthy of those two letters as are the aforementioned performance cars.
What gives? What’s in the GR Yaris that makes it an exciting little hot hatch?
First off, the GR Yaris was built as a homologation model for Toyota’s entry to FIA World Rally Championship. And while it shares the name with the Yaris that the Philippines currently has, the GR Yaris is built with different underpinnings – a combination between Toyota’s GA-B and GA-C platforms, sharing parts with the standard European and Japanese Yaris.
Most importantly, the GR Yaris carries the world’s most powerful three-cylinder engine in a road car. It’s specifically developed for the rally-bred three-door hatchback. Toyota’s generally positive global sales performance over the years gave the company the freedom to develop such niche products.
The 1.6-liter three-pot mill is turbocharged, capable of making 257 horsepower and 360 Newton-meters of torque. To put things in perspective, the Honda Civic Type R makes 306 hp from its turbo 2.0-liter power plant – but the GR Yaris is substantially lighter and sends those numbers to all four wheels. I mentioned that it’s meant to be a production model of a rally car, right? Just like the Civic Type R, the three-pot engine is mated to a six-speed manual transmission, so yes, the machismo is strong in this one.
To put it simply, Toyota pulled all the stops in developing the GR Yaris, and we might just get a taste of the hot hatch here in the Philippines.
Rumor has it that Toyota Motor Philippines is bringing in the GR Yaris this year. While still not confirmed (and TMP refused to comment about that rumor as expected), it isn’t a far-fetched idea for Toyota to bring such an exciting machine into their lineup. Besides, with a 22-strong range, adding another wouldn’t hurt. It can even work to TMP’s advantage as it can attract the attention of Filipino enthusiasts back to the brand without having to spend as much as a P5-million GR Supra.
Another thing to support the GR Yaris arrival is its presence in our neighboring countries such as Thailand and Malaysia. In Malaysia where the GR Yaris was introduced in December 2020, reports said that the Toyota there received an overwhelming demand for the hot hatch.
We expect the same fate for the GR Yaris here, though there’s one more thing to consider: the price. In Thailand, it has a whopping price tag of over P4 million, while the Malaysian market gets it for P3.5 million – both when converted with the current exchange rates.
We expect a similar price tag for the GR Yaris here – though we wish TMP could price it lower. The question now is when.