For those who wanted to get their hands on Toyota’s 198kW GR Yaris, there are none left in SA

If there’s one thing South Africans love more than biltong, braai and bakkies, it’s their penchant for speed and going fast.

Even though there are quite a few hot hatch options to choose from, most people’s go-to choice is the popular Volkswagen Golf GTI – now in its eighth generation. By that principle, the local hot hatch tree is still bearing fruit and has seen an injection of new offerings over the last couple of decades like the Hyundai i30 N and Honda Civic Type R. With that being said; there is one model in particular that sent petrolheads in a frenzy in 2021.

After years of rumours and months of teasing, Toyota finally confirmed that their GR Yaris would be available locally. Powering the hatch is a turbocharged 1.6-litre three-cylinder petrol engine with maximum outputs of 198kW and 360Nm, sent to all four wheels via a six-speed manual transmission. It is also available in two trims – GR Four and GR-Four Rally – priced at R606 000 and R715 600, respectively.

For those with interest in performance, the Japanese pocket rocket runs from 0 to 100km/h in a claimed 5.5 seconds and reaches a top speed of 230km/h.

An exclusive club

The hype surrounding the car was solid, even though some had misgivings about spending so much money on a Yaris. Toyota built a total of 25 000 units, but only 190 of them were allocated to SA, and if you had any ideas of buying one now, they’d have to turn you away because each car has already found new homes. If there were any misconceptions about it being ‘just a Yaris’, all of them went right out of the window.

While it is unlikely that there will be a shortage of GTI’s, the GR Yaris is a more exclusive option that has to be imported – though it remains to be seen if Toyota will stretch its local allocation to bring in more units. Compared to the GTI, not only is the (base model) GR Yaris faster, but it is also cheaper. The GTI uses the brand’s familiar turbocharged 2.0-litre turbocharged engine with outputs of 180kW and 370Nm, sent to the front wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. Pricing starts at R669 300.

Brand allegiance is strong in SA even though, on paper at least, one is far superior to the other. Also, because of the close proximity in power, it was inevitable that comparisons between the two models would be made.

While the GR Yaris remains out of reach for the time being, it has undoubtedly left a delible impression on the motoring fraternity that there is more to hot hatch life than just the GTI.

Now that you’ve got the knowledge, it’s time to shop! Head to gumtree.co.za or your Gumtree app (click for Apple & Android) and don’t forget to use your location settings to find local cars and bakkie

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