Toyota has given us a genuine car-buying dilemma – the kind of dilemma every car fan loves to face.
You know the one: where you can’t afford to actually buy a car and all budgets are imaginary, but you spend hours each day researching and taking down notes in a hand-drawn specifications table which you hide under the corner of your mouse pad.
This week’s challenge is picking between the new GR (Gazoo Racing) models Toyota has put into the market, with the latest addition the GR 86.
With the addition of the 86, Toyota has given us three cars to choose from: the GR Supra, GR Yaris, and GR 86.
They are ostensibly quite different, but all serve a similar purpose: make people feel good when they look at them, drive them, and think about them.
The new GR 86 is the successor to the GT 86, which Toyota built in partnership with Subaru and launched in 2012.
Toyota again partnered with Subaru for the new 86, and the pair upgraded the engine, features, and looks of the car.
It is now fitted with a 2.4-litre Boxer engine which produces 173kW of power at 7,000rpm, while drive is sent to the rear wheels of the car through a manual or automatic box.
The 86 will aim to be a fun car to drive – with a high-revving engine that is better than any song playing on the radio, and a low, stiff ride which lets you scream around corners.
It’s all about keeping things analogue (which may be difficult thanks to the new digital screens and driver-assist systems which will be fitted) and having a ride that looks damn fine when parked in front of your garage.
Herein sits the first tough choice: will the 86 be more fun to drive than the GR Yaris?
The GR Yaris packs a 1.6-litre, 3-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine which produces 200kW, and puts this down through a manual gearbox and advanced four-wheel-drive system.
While you may not get the scream of a high-revving naturally-aspirated motor, you will get a Manny Pacquiao punch to the face when you put your foot on the accelerator.
Reviewers who have driven the GR Yaris have also hailed its incredible handling, and praised its ability to go fast around corners.
It is not as good-looking as the 86, but you do get a lot of car in the compact package.
What about the Supra?
At the other point of the GR triangle we have the new Supra.
It was built in partnership with BMW (we are not getting into any “it’s not a proper Toyota” arguments today) and has love-it-or-hate-it looks.
What cannot be disputed is that of the three, it is the premium option.
It packs a 3.0-litre, 6-cylinder turbocharged engine which puts out 250kW and 500Nm, with power sent to the rear wheels through an 8-speed automatic box.
This will give drivers a 0-100km/h time of 4.3 seconds – the fastest of the bunch.
The Supra is undoubtedly more refined than the GR Yaris and 86, thanks to BMW’s influence, but is still a fast sports car which will turn heads in parking lots and on the track.
It’s not its looks or speed which will be the deciding factor for the Supra, however, but rather its price.
The GR Supra sells for R1.1 million in South Africa, which means you will really need to love this car to choose it over the 86 and GR Yaris.
There is no local pricing for the GR Yaris as yet, but we can get an idea of how much it sells for thanks to the UK market.
In the UK, the GR Yaris has a price tag of £29,995, which is just over R600,000 when converted directly.
This is not an accurate way to predict what the car will cost in South Africa, but it is interesting to note that the Supra sells for £54,000 in the UK – which converts to R1.1 million.
As for the GR 86, we are really in deep water here when it comes to predictions, as there is no pricing for any markets as yet.
The GT 86 (the current “old” version on sale) goes for R657,700 locally – but has a smaller engine and fewer features than its successor.
If you are betting person, you might then rank the GR Yaris as coming in cheaper than the GR 86. However, I think they may be very closely matched in price if they do go on sale this year.
So, which car do you pick?
The GR Supra is at a disadvantage as the “oldest” model on the list, and therefore is not getting the YouTube and Instagram attention that the GR Yaris has been enjoying – and which the GR 86 will receive in the coming months.
The constant barrage of “it’s not a proper Toyota, it’s a BMW” is also hard to ignore. Until you sit in a new Supra and do a 0-100km/h sprint, that is.
Your only concern at that point is to take long, deep breaths to lower your heart rate.
As a GT86 owner, I have a personal bias to overcome, as I think the current 86 is beautiful and close to perfect in terms of its balance and feel.
Yes, it is “slow” in a straight line, but in a corner you will back out long before you test the limits of its grip.
Finally, we have the GR Yaris, the rally car for the road, which is already lining up to be one of the best driver’s cars released by Toyota in recent years.
Its four-wheel drive system and 200kW engine have seen it beat much more expensive rivals in drag races and around race tracks – plus when you pull the manual handbrake it opens the coupling system on the rear axle and allows you to hit rally-style cornering.
It’s a damn-tough choice, and I would love a garage with all three inside.
My imaginary budget does not allow that, though, and today’s winner is the Toyota GR Yaris.