GR Yaris—Toyota’s new pocket rocket Manny de los Reyes January 14, 2020 Automotive, Features I probably won’t be the only person to admit having mixed feelings about the current Toyota Supra GR. Yes, it’s a sensational sports car that pushes all the right buttons. All but one—and, if you’re a purist car enthusiast, you probably know what that is. The latest Supra, coming almost two decades after the iconic 2JZ-powered fourth-generation (A80) model, was co-developed with BMW. As collaborations go, you can do much worse than partnering with the magicians from Munich. But the Supra has always been a national pride of Japan—and having the latest iteration with a German heart (even if it’s still a magnificent turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-6, like the 2JZ) takes some of the Nippon luster away from what should still undoubtedly be a future icon. Never mind that it’s made in BMW’s plant in Austria, side by side with the Z4. Which brings me to the brand spanking new Toyota Yaris GR. Now this is 100% pure Toyota. The car was developed in utmost secrecy as it will be competing in the 2020 season of the World Rally Championship. At a time when most Japanese car brands have all but abandoned the not-good-for-the-bottom line-but-terrific-for-street-cred rally-racing heritage, Toyota is getting its hands and feet (and wheels and tires) dirty with this spunky new hot hatch. According to Road & Track, Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda had this to say upon the launch of the GR Yaris: “The Supra made a successful comeback, but still, I have always wanted a sports car purely made by Toyota. When we won the WRC manufacturer’s title last year, I felt Toyota became recognized all over Europe, and that made me think that we must have a winning car to gain worldwide recognition as a true car manufacturer.” Under the hood of the GR Yaris is the world’s most powerful three-cylinder engine—turbocharged to the tune of 268 horsepower and delivering power to all four wheels via six-speed manual transmission and a trick AWD system with front and rear limited slip differentials. The GR Yaris is an FIA homologation model, which means that a competitor in an FIA-sanctioned racing series needs to produce certain numbers of the racecar for public consumption. Which might also mean that only right-hand drive versions would be produced (and probably available only in Europe where Toyota needs to make a stronger market presence). But you never know—global demand might convince Toyota to produce left-hand drive versions. Which might, in turn, create a whole new generation of Japanese rally cars to follow the footsteps of the legendary Lancer Evos and Impreza WRX STI’s. The Yaris was never the bestseller in its class in the Philippines—something I strongly feel could be remedied as easily as changing the name of the car to Vios Hatch. The Yaris and Vios are essentially the same car anyway—much like the sedan/hatch versions of the Mazda2 and Ford Fiesta. In fact, in most western markets, the Vios is called the Yaris Sedan. So why not do the reverse and rename the Yaris as the Vios Hatch in the Philippines? Do it for the next-gen Yaris and watch sales double. Then when we get a left-hand drive GR Yaris, it can be called GR Vios Hatch. How’s that for a modern-day mass-market model-based high-performance halo car (and with a genuine motorsports pedigree at that)? But I’m getting ahead of myself. The fact that Toyota is even competing in the WRC with the Yaris is reason enough to celebrate. If the company deigns to import a model that can be sold in the Philippines (for what might probably be a fraction of the price of a Supra), then that’s the icing on this delectable Japanese cake. Stranger things have happened..