The new Toyota GR Yaris hot hatch will cost less than $40,000 in Australia thanks to huge subsidies by the automotive giant.
Powered by a turbocharged 1.6-litre three-cylinder engine with 200kW and 370Nm, the Yaris drives all four wheels through a six-speed manual transmission. The three-door hot hatch weighs less than 1300 kilograms, can reach 100km/h in 5.2 seconds, and has ties to Toyota’s World Rally Championship machines which could make it the spiritual successor to Mitsubishi’s Lancer Evolution.
Toyota Australia is spending more than $14 million to cut the price of the first 1000 examples from $49,500 plus on-road costs to $39,950 drive-away, a discount of well more than $10,000 when registration fees, stamp duty and dealer fees are factored in. Toyota will also throw its weight behind the new GR Yaris in the Australian Rally Championship and host special events for performance car customers.
Sean Hanley, Toyota Australia’s vice president for sales and marketing, says the “significant investment” is intended to help make Toyota’s Gazoo Racing, or “GR” range, the top performance car brand in Australia in years to come.
“This is an investment for the long term,” he says.
“Around 20 years ago I was deeply involved in the launch of Prius. When we brought that car to market it was fairly expensive and fairly low volume. It was an investment in our future.
“When I look back on that investment – at the time it was a lot of money – and I look at where Toyota hybrids are positioned in the market today, I know we got that right back then.
“GR will escalate in this country over the next 5-10 years … [it] will be a market-leading performance brand in Australia.”
The Yaris joins Toyota’s reborn Supra as a GR product in local showrooms. The next-generation Toyota 86 will also wear GR badging, as could a rumoured high-performance version of the HiLux ute aimed at Ford’s Ranger Raptor.
The $39,950 drive-away figure represents a bombshell for performance car rivals as the Yaris GR costs the equivalent of $50,000 or more overseas. A fully-loaded Yaris hybrid without the GR’s performance hardware costs about $37,000 drive-away in Australia, making the turbocharged all-wheel-drive model something of a bargain.
Hanley says the GR Yaris “is a $50,000 car all day, without a doubt in the world”. While it is similar in size to the Polo GTI Volkswagen sells for $35,490 drive-away, Hanley says its performance rivals the circa-$50,000 Honda Civic Type R and Volkswagen Golf R.
The machine is likely to cause problems for Subaru’s WRX, which costs about $45,000 drive-away. It’s not a great deal more expensive than the front-drive, 147kW Fiesta ST which costs about $36,000 drive-away, and undercuts the 202kW Hyundai i30 N which starts at about $45,500 drive-away.
The new Toyota GR Yaris goes on sale in Australia in November, with dealers open to take orders from Wednesday September 23. Once the first 1000 models are sold – which could take up to 18 months, according to the brand – its price will revert to $49,500 plus on-road costs.
Track day enthusiasts might want to budget more than that to get hold of one of 250 GR Yaris “Rallye” models equipped with front and rear limited-slip diffs, firmer suspension and other tasty details. Arriving in 2021, those cars aren’t part of the special drive-away deal and are likely to sit closer to the $58,000 drive-away ask of Subaru’s WRX STI.
“This is a car that really works for those who are track enthusiasts. It’s quite a different market,” Hanley says.
“It’s a very different appeal. It’s more suited and aimed at the true performance track enthusiast.”
Hyundai won fans for its i30 N hot hatch by guaranteeing that any mechanical problems occurring during non-competitive track outings would be covered by its five-year warranty. While Hanley stopped short of matching the South Korean brand’s guarantee, he says “we will always do whatever we have to do to look after our guests”.