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The long-awaited Toyota GR Yaris has received a lot of raving reviews, but can it survive the roads of Singapore? We take the hot hatch out to get some answers.

28 Jun 2021


Toyota is a lot of things. It's a highly successful carmaker that's renowned for its hybrid powertrains, it's famously reliable and it's definitely a globally dominant brand.

However, it's far from exciting, even if the carmaker reminded the world what it was capable of when it gave us cars like the MR-S, the Celica, the 86 and the Supra.

Another reminder...

With the GR Yaris, Toyota is reminding us just how capable it can be when it comes to producing proper hot hatches
And now, it seems like Toyota is sending out another reminder with the GR Yaris. I mean, what are we to make of the firecracker of a hatch that bears the Gazoo Racing moniker?

It's like, all of a sudden, Toyota decided to breed a Jack Russell on steroids just to mess with cars like the Hyundai i30N, the Renault Megane RS and even the recently launched Volkswagen GTI.

For those who aren't in the know, the GR Yaris, unlike the GRMN - an acronym that stands for Gazoo Racing Masters of Nurburgring - will have a production of at least 25,000 units worldwide.

Locally, authorised dealer Borneo Motors brought in 22 units, of which 20 units have already been accounted for (two units were kept for Borneo's usage).

It's desirable...

1.6-litre three-cylinder engine: Star of the show
The car that you see here is no ordinary Yaris and you can easily tell just by looking at it. With its gaping grille and chin, flared arches and the sort of butt that will make Jennifer Lopez jealous, what you have is a seriously menacing hot hatch that will put some of its peers to shame.

The GR Yaris is powered by a 1.6-litre three-pot engine that feeds 257bhp and 360Nm of twisting force to all four wheels through a six-speed manual transmission. This allows the car to hit the 100km/h mark in just 5.5 seconds, which means it's not only faster than the latest Volkswagen GTI, it's also faster than the bigger and more powerful Renault Megane RS.

Because the GR Yaris is so small and light, at just less than 1.3 tonnes, those power figures are more than ample. As a matter of fact, the hot hatch has a remarkable power-to-weight ratio of more than 200bhp per tonne. So while the steroidal Toyota isn't as powerful as the bigger Honda Civic Type R (which is also a manual transmission car), or as luxurious and tech savvy as the Volkswagen GTI, the GR Yaris' lightness means that it has plenty of oomph from the word go.

Well-deserved...

For a hot hatch, a 5.5-second century sprint is fast by any standards
On the move, the rally-bred hatchback is capable of delivering high levels of dynamism, eagerness and composure that translate to endless driving entertainment. From start to finish, you'll struggle not to drive like a hooligan. It's like the car constantly urges you to unleash its power, whether you're around town or on the highway.

As a result, the whole driving experience feels involving and alive, even if the steering could do with more feedback and the gear lever with more slickness. It dives into corners very naturally and quickly and accelerates out in such an instantaneous and confident manner, accompanied with a rorty soundtrack that's enhanced through the speakers.

Best of all, because it rides very well and handles undulations like a gentleman, the GR Yaris manages to be an effortless everyday transport.

Back to basics...

GR Yaris' cabin is a simple, back-to-basics affair
On the inside, seats are cossetting, steering feel just right, and even the buttons and controls have that sort of sporty tensions that you don't get from its peers.

Toyota also batted a homerun with its back-to-basics, no nonsense, sort of car. Yes, there are some modern features such as the head-up display, rev-matches every time you swop down gears, lane assist and cruise control, just to name a few, and there is no denying that the GR Yaris feels very right when you get into it.

Seats are body hugging but not to the point of causing you to be wrapped up uncomfortably, and you sit higher than what you'd expect, even at its lowest setting, so the view out isn't all that bad.

This car is, after all, a very usable daily car. It offers two more seats at the back, being a three-door hatch and all, and a boot space that's adequate for your groceries, but don't expect high levels of functionality here.

Buyers of the GR Yaris may be niche, but they will certainly understand and appreciate the car
What the GR Yaris offers is a basic cabin, with plastics all around. While that may sound offensive to you, especially when the car will set you back some $200,000, we will have to understand that the hot hatch is essentially a driver's car, nothing more. That's to say the sort of car that a true blue purist will know how to appreciate and use.

Appreciating it...

On that note of appreciating, it's hard to justify the price tag of the GR Yaris, especially when there are other more premium, bigger and better-rounded cars out there that cost about the same. But being bigger or well-rounded isn't what the GR Yaris is about.

It's really about driving enjoyment and just how involving the car is when you're at the helm. There's that sense of ownership when you're piloting the car, knowing that you're that niche buyer who knows how to handle and appreciate a car like the GR Yaris - a Toyota no less.

But that's simply because you know what you're getting yourself into, and not many people are like that.

Car Information

This model is no longer being sold by local distributors
Toyota GR Yaris 1.6 (M)
Rate it

Price

: -

Engine Type

:

3-cylinder in-line 12-valve Turbocharged

Engine Cap

:

1618cc

Horsepower

:

192kW (257 bhp)

Torque

:

360 Nm / 4600 rpm

Transmission

:

6-speed (M)

Acceleration (0-100 km/h)

:

5.5sec

Top Speed

:

230km/h

Fuel consumption

:

12.19 km/L

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