Toyota Motor Philippines (TMP) has many much-coveted and awe-inspiring vehicle models in its local lineup. But when enthusiasts talk of the Toyota Yaris model, the image of a modest yet visually appealing subcompact hatchback comes to mind. Not boring, but not thrilling either. Right off the factory, the Toyota Yaris isn't designed for the track and so high-performance drivers would not give it a second look. Unless it's been retuned, the subcompact hatchback functions as a city runaround like its sedan sibling, the Toyota Vios.
But what if two letters, GR, are added to the nameplate? Would that make the Yaris more worthy of Filipino performance car drivers' attention? Yes, the GR acronym, which stands for "GAZOO Racing", has also been affixed to the Yaris, much like its kin the Toyota GR Supra.
For the uninitiated, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing is the Japanese auto manufacturing giant's latest racing division. This same team was responsible for designing the Toyota GR010 hybrid hypercar that is about to participate in the 24 Hours of Le Mans―the world's oldest active endurance racing for sportscars, held yearly in the town of Le Mans, France for almost a century now.
For Toyota Yaris fans whose jaws have dropped, let us share with you some quick facts as to why the all-new Toyota GR Yaris is an exciting, little hot hatch.
The Toyota GR Yaris is not built with the same underpinnings as the Philippine-spec Toyota Yaris city romper that's currently on offer in the local market. The GR Yaris was engineered to be the homologation model for the Japanese carmaker's entry to the FIA World Endurance Championship rally. The Toyota GR Yaris utilizes a combination of the Toyota GA-B and GA-C platforms, and shares its parts with the Yaris released in Europe and Japan.
Under the hood of the Toyota GR Yaris is the most powerful three-cylinder road-car engine in the world. This 1.6L turbocharged mill, which has been developed specially for the three-door, rally-bred hatchback, can generate up to 261hp of output and 360Nm of peak torque. While the power output is lower than the 306hp that the 2L turbo mill of the Honda Civic Type R produces, the Toyota GR Yaris is much lighter and distributes power to all of its four wheels via a 6-speed manual transmission.
Although there are unofficial reports that TMP will bring in the Toyota GR Yaris sometime in Q2 this year, the first-ever track-oriented GR Yaris has already made its way to the Philippines. The proud owner is Autoplus Sportzentrium proprietor and Motul distributor Carlos Gono, who purchased the unit from Germany, the first country to get a left-hand-drive version of the car.
When asked if he has plans to make some tweaks to the car, Gono said they have to but a lot of the GR Yaris' parts are still under development abroad, and tuning is very slow to achieve during these pandemic times. He said that he would most likely start with tuning the exhaust.
When asked about the price of the hot hatch, he revealed that the price doesn't vary much with that of the Honda Civic Type R. In the Philippines, the Honda Civic Type R is priced at PHP 3,180,000, while Toyota's other GR model, the Toyota GR Supra, has a PHP 4,990,000 sticker price.
If TMP will indeed bring in the GR Yaris and if the price point will be relatively much lower than the GR Supra, then there's a high possibility that the performance-oriented Yaris would gain a good following in the local sportscar segment.