UMW Toyota Motor has secured about 100 units of the World Rally Championship-bred Toyota GR Yaris. To recap, the B-segment Toyota GR Yaris is a road going version of Toyota Gazoo Racing’s World Rally Championsip (WRC) car – often called a homologation special. Despite using the Yaris name, the GR Yaris have few things in common with a Toyota Yaris.
Globally, there are three variants of the regular Toyota Yaris. USA’s Yaris is a rebadged Mazda 2, Europe and Japan gets a smaller model, while the rest of world including Malaysia gets the one you see here.
Whichever Yaris you are referring to, it’s still a point A to point B city car, albeit a very good handling one) city car. The GR Yaris however, shares the same underpinnings as Sebastian Ogier’s World Rally Championship (WRC) race car, and you can expect prices to reflect its exclusivity too.
The regular Yaris uses a torsion beam rear suspension. The rally car uses double wishbones behind and this is reflected in the GR Yaris.
The front-half of the GR Yaris retains the standard car’s TNGA-B platform used by the European/Japanese market model, while the rear-half comes from the Corolla Altis’ TNGA-C platform.
If you think a Honda Civic Type R or Renault Megane RS is hardcore, think again. The difference between the GR Yaris and other hot/mega hatches is that the GR Yaris is homologated to WRC regulations, just like the original Mitsubishi Lancer Evolutions and Subaru Impreza WRXes of the ‘90s.
Of course, today’s WRC is no longer the same event to the series that Colin McRae and archrival Tommi Makinen raced in. It’s also worth noting that the GR Yaris is developed by Tommi Makinen himself.
With Mitsubishi Motors no longer rallying, Tommi Makinen has since retired from racing but he is now the team principal of Toyota Gazoo Racing rally team.
Instead of Makinen’s former 2.0-litre turbocharged Lancer Evolution, today’s WRC car uses a 1.6-litre turbocharged engine, still with four-wheel drive though.
In the GR Yaris, it’s a 1.6-litre three-cylinder, good enough for 272 PS and 370 Nm, paired to a 6-speed manual transmission, driving the four wheels via a pair of Torsen limited slip differential, one for each axle.
In Japan, prices start from 3.96 million Yen, just slightly below a Honda Civic Type R’s 4.5 million Yen, even though the C-segment Civic Type R sits one segment above GR Yaris.
Why so expensive? Buyers are expected to pay a premium for the privilege of owning a WRC homologated road car, which is a step up from owning the fastest front-wheel drive car to lap the Nurburgring.
When will the Toyota GR Yaris be launched in Malaysia? What’s the price?
When it arrives in Malaysia in 2021, expect to pay close to RM 300,000 for the Toyota GR Yaris. Expensive? Yes, very.
This is not a car for the average track day junkie, because if speed and raw power is what you want, the regular Renault Megane RS and Honda Civic Type R is more than enough, or if you can’t drive a manual (tsk tsk), there’s still the Volkswagen Golf R and the forthcoming Mercedes-AMG A45.
Instead, the GR Yaris is for the wealthy collector, because from this point onwards, with every other car maker being very conscious about keeping their CO2 emissions low, few apart from Toyota can afford to make WRC homologated cars for the road anymore.
Today’s Subaru WRX can no longer call itself a WRC-bred machine anymore since it no longer competes in WRC, even though its heritage is deeply rooted in WRC.
For those who understand, the GR Yaris will be last of its kind, and therein lies its appeal. About 100 units have been allocated for Malaysia, and that's quite near the limit of what our small car market can support. It's less about the price, but more about the small number of wealthy collectors will appreciate a car like this. Most common folks will just go "For RM300k, I can buy a Mercedes-Benz."