“Why do you want a Yaris? That’s so much worse than your current car.”
This is what my partner said to me when I told her I would love to get the new GR Yaris when it launches in South Africa.
“It’s not a Yaris, it is a GR Yaris. It is a different car,” I replied.
“It’s got a turbocharged engine that puts out 200kW and it has an advanced all-wheel drive system – it is rocket,” I said, turning the laptop screen to show her the latest photos.
“It looks cure in red,” was the response.
No, the GR Yaris does not look cute in red.
It is not a downgrade from your current car.
And it is most certainly not a typical Toyota Yaris.
The GR Yaris, coming to South Africa in mid-2021, is a car built by Toyota so it can enter a new model in the World Rally Championship.
While it shares the Yaris name with the hatchback favoured by young professionals and new families, you must not get the two confused.
One is a sensible lunchbox you pack your cheese sandwiches into for your first day of high school. The other is a Red Bull can filled with liquidised fizzers.
Normal vs GR
The standard entry-level Toyota Yaris has four doors and a 1.4-litre petrol engine which produces 79kW and 140Nm of torque.
The engine has four cylinders and the manual gearbox has five gears – which channel power to the front wheels.
These numbers are ordinary compared to the GR Yaris.
Toyota’s new model has a 3-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine which produces 200kW and 370Nm of torque.
It has two doors and its manual box – which is controlled by a black leather gear stick with red stitching – packs six gears and comes with a rev-matching feature on up and down shifts.
This power is thrown to an all-wheel-drive system which can be configured as follows:
- Normal – 60% front: 40% rear
- Sport – 30% front: 70% rear
- Track – 50% front: 50% rear
This takes the GR Yaris from 0-100km/h in 5.5 seconds and to a top speed of 230km/h.
Conversely, the standard Yaris has a top speed of 180km/h and Toyota decided to leave the “acceleration” column on its product page blank.
As you may have started to suspect, the GR Yaris will not receive a “normal” Yaris price tag.
While the GR version is only coming to South Africa in mid-2021, we can get an idea of pricing from markets where it is already for sale.
Once such market is the UK, where the GR Yaris starts at £29,995. At the time of writing, this converted to R615,000.
While a direct conversion cannot be used to state how much a car will cost in South Africa, it is interesting to note that the new Toyota Supra sells for £54,340 in the UK – which converts to around R1,112,000. Locally, the new Supra sells for R1,115,000.
The normal Yaris starts at R264,200 locally, and goes up to R327,700 for the 1.5 Sport model.
As was the case with the price, don’t expect the GR Yaris to match the normal Yaris when it comes to practicality.
The GR Yaris has space for two people at the front and two people at the back, but thanks to its sloping roof, it is a tight fit for adults in the rear.
As there are no back doors, you have to get into the back by opening the front doors, folding the front seats down, and climbing through the gap – not very dignified.
The boot is smaller than the one in the normal Yaris, too, which means less space for your monthly shop.
Finally, don’t expect the GR Yaris to provide the fuel economy of its sensible counterpart, as you will most certainly be taking advantage of the 200kW on tap on a regular basis.
The photos below show just how different the two cars are.
Visible signs that the GR Yaris means business are the flared wheel arches at the rear, the large grille at the front, and the wide tyres.