The wildest Toyota since the last of the Celica GT-4 rally specials will hit Australia in November with a sub-$40,000 starting price.
The GR Yaris is a proper pocket rocket with 200 kiloWatts of power, a thrusting 370 Newton-metres of torque, a weight of just 1280 kilograms and a 0-100km/h sprint time of 5.2 seconds.
The car is a direct spin-off from Toyota’s winning work in the World Rally Championship, starting with its unique three-door hatchback body and all-wheel drive, and will be campaigned in Australia in 2021 by Harry and Lewis Bates.
The best thing about the GR Yaris, in sharp contrast to the 44 per cent increase in the showroom sticker for the basic Yaris hatch, is a subsidised starting price of $39,950 including on-road costs.
Toyota Australia is splashing around $10 million on the Gazoo Racing headliner, spending the money on everything from the launch pricing to ownership packages and the ARC competition program.
The $39,950 pricetag will apply to the first 1000 cars sold in Australia, after which Toyota Australia says the showroom sticker will be $49,500, not including on-roads.
But there will also be an even-hotter model, the Rallye, picking up the parts from the Performance Pack – track-tuned suspension, front and rear Torsen limited-slip differentials, 18-inch BBS alloys and Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres – to follow sometime in 2021. With the emphasis currently on the starter car, and not the limited run of 250 Rallye models, Toyota is not talking about a price.
But it is happy to trumpet a car which finally gives it proper sporting credentials and has a Toyota heritage, unlike the Supra which is a re-bodied and re-badged BMW Z4.
“GR Yaris is 100 per cent Toyota. It has the heart and soul of a rally car,” says the marketing vice-president of Toyota Australia, Sean Hanley.
“In the pats we would take a production car and adapt it to motorsport. This GR Yaris is slightly different … the first model to reverse that process.”
It’s also the genuine launchpad for the Gazoo Racing sub-brand, again unlike the Supra, and is intended to bring new and younger buyers to Brand T.
“We definitely want this GR brand to be as well known in Australia as it is in Europe and Japan,” says Hanley.
“It’s a very powerful message from Toyota and our GR direction going forward. We’re preparing to take the next step.”
The obvious historical rival to the GR Yaris is the Subaru WRC, but Hanley sees it more as competitor to the Honda Civic Type R, Renault Megane RS and Volkswagen Golf R.
“It is the most affordable pure performance car on the Australian market,” says Hanley.
Toyota Australia will be taking orders for the car from next Wednesday, September 23, and there will even be a 20-cent fuel subsidy for the earliest adopters.