How can VW and Toyota launch the Golf 8 GTI and GR Yaris at the same time and not expect car fans to have an emotional breakdown.
Most of us can only handle one dream car per year, and now these brands are making us pick between the two for our “I would buy it if I had the money” vehicle of 2021.
The pair is set to launch during the middle of the year, both are expected to cost around R700,000 (hopefully), and they are made for people who like going fast.
It’s a genuine dilemma.
Fast hatchbacks in red
If you had asked me a month ago which car I would pick, it would have been the GR Yaris.
The “special edition” nature of the car, its 200kW of power from a 1.6-litre turbo engine, the amazing four-wheel-drive system that can be played around with, and its manual box all made it an easy decision.
On top of this, it does 0-100km/h in 5 seconds – and in the wet it is taking on supercars in terms of acceleration and cornering speed.
Now that VW has officially unveiled the Golf 8 GTI and set a local launch date, the choice is not so simple.
The GTI is likely to be priced closely to the GR Yaris, and it is no slouch in the speed department.
It packs 180kW of power – from a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine – and can go from 0-100km/h in 6.4 seconds thanks to its 7-speed dual-clutch transmission.
It may not be as nippy as the GR Yaris around a track or as fast off the line at the robots, but it has more than enough pace and power to make day-to-day driving exhilarating.
Making matters more difficult is that VW’s latest photos of the new GTI show the car in red. Try say no to a red GTI when you walk past the showroom floor.
I don’t care about rear doors
If you want to counter the statements above with: “Yes, but the GTI is more practical and has rear doors and proper back seats and the boot is a nice size”, please leave now.
If you want lots of space for luggage and passengers then go buy an SUV and stop wasting our time here.
What you should be asking yourself is whether the front-wheel drive of the GTI is more fun than the dynamic four-wheel-drive system of the Yaris.
With a little dial in the cabin you can set the Yaris up to have 70% of the power sent to the rear and 30% to the front.
Or switch it around to a front/rear split of 60%/40%. Or make it an even 50%/50%.
The GTI comes back with its automatic transmission – for those who love paddle-shifting over manual shifts – and an interior which is set to be a lot fancier-looking and more modern than that in the Yaris.
VW said this is the first GTI which has a completely digitised interior, which includes a 10.25-inch digital display in place of an analogue instrument cluster – along with a large infotainment screen.
Additionally, controls for the lights, volume, and temperature have been moved to digital panels; and a 30-colour ambient lighting system is standard.
The battle continues in the looks department, and it is a close call here.
The GR Yaris has wide wheel arches that flare out from the body, a big grille up front with air scoops along the sides, and a carbon roof – all of which provide good racer credentials.
Combined with its sloping lines toward the back and those black mags, the GR Yaris looks like a bag of firecrackers waiting to be lit.
VW has kept the GTI’s styling more “civilised”, but that does not mean it is not beautiful.
In red, it looks polished and clean.
The light clusters on the front and rear are elegant – and the back end with its shiney twin tailpipes, large GTI badge and VW logo, and low stance is damn fine.
I love the mags, the level changes on the bonnet, the black accents along the outer lines and skirts, and how it still looks menacing despite having four doors.
We recently ran a poll on TopAuto asking readers which car they are more excited for: The VW Golf 8 GTI or the Toyota GR Yaris.
56% voted for the Golf 8 GTI, which is understandable.
South Africa is one of the largest GTI markets outside of Europe, according to VW – and 14,252 units of the seventh-generation GTI have been sold locally since 2013.
I voted for the GR Yaris, but if the poll was put back up today I would still be staring at the two options – not willing to click just yet.