I bought a 2021 Toyota GR Yaris.
I cannot drive it as well as Matt Watson or Chris Harris, so there is no point in trying to make awesome videos of it in action.
I am not as experienced as Chris Atkinson, so telling you how the car performs would be futile.
Instead, I will answer all the questions I was asked, and I asked myself, when buying the “rally car for the road”.
All the questions
How did you test drive it before buying it?
There are no test drive options available for the GR Yaris, according to all the Toyota sales people I have spoken to, due to its limited numbers.
In fact, I only saw the car in-person for the first time on the day I collected it from the dealership.
Did you buy it “second-hand”?
I bought the GR Yaris new. It became available after the customer who initially signed an offer to purchase pulled out, and the car became available.
I waited around a month and a half after first speaking to the sales person about wanting to buy the car.
Why didn’t you buy the Rally version?
There are no new Rally versions available, according to everyone I spoke to.
There are several “second-hand” versions available on AutoTrader, but these are selling for between R750,000 and R800,000 – a sizeable premium on the new price of R715,000.
I don’t go to track days, either, so the Rally version would be wasted on me.
Is the seating position too high?
A lot has been written and said about the seating position being high in the GR Yaris, and it is all true.
My previous car was a Toyota 86, and this has only amplified how high you feel in the GR Yaris. It feels like you are in a “normal” hatchback or small crossover.
This is not due to the car being high, however, as the GR Yaris has a ground clearance of 124mm – only 9mm higher than a GR Supra.
The seat block is quite thick, though, and the roofline is also high – which adds to the heightened driving position.
Additionally, the “normal” GR Yaris in South Africa comes with fabric seats with a bucket-like design. They are comfortable, but not as nice the the seats in my 86.
I would prefer them to be a bit more body-hugging and firmer. Alcantara and leather finishes would have been nice, too.
Is it as powerful and racy as all the reviews show?
My GR Yaris has 80km on the clock, and I have done 70km of this.
I have not given it hard gas, as I want to let the engine run in for a while before going over 4,500rpm.
Over the short distances I have driven and at sub-5,000rpm, however, I can feel and hear the GR Yaris wants to be unleashed.
Its turbo kicks in nicely and whistles with gear changes, with the body of the car bristling in anticipation of the acceleration it was designed to achieve.
The steering is sharp, too, and the car will have no problem hitting the rumble-strips of a corner or an average speed bump at pace. You can feel it was made to be pointed in a direction and sent rapidly forward.
Is it suitable as a family hatch?
No. The boot is small, the cabin is small, and it has two doors.
While the rear seats can hold two adults in more comfort than an 86, you would not want to drive long distance in the back.
Additionally, the car does not come with a spare wheel – only a puncture repair kit. This will not work on the family holiday drive to Durban when you get a flat.
The sales person told me that a spare wheel – for the rim – is R11,000 for the Enkei version on the GR Yaris. The BBS wheel for the GR Yaris Rally is over R30,000.
What’s the interior like?
It’s nice. Clean and modern.
It does not shout “rally car”, though, and the instrument cluster really needs racing/sporty touches.
The common complaint that the central media display and rearview mirror block your line of site when looking to the left is also accurate.
Additionally, the visibility is not great out the tiny back window when reversing.
What does it look like in person?
Photos and videos do not do justice to the car. Seeing it in person is special.
It looks like a superhero with a really bad disguise. Yes, the body it a hatchback, but you can tell that underneath its flared wheels arches a sports car is waiting to be unleashed.
Did you get a GR Yaris keyring?
Yes. It contains a number out of the 190 GR Yaris units which were brought into South Africa. Eg: 8 of of 190.