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Is The GR Yaris RS Just A Watered Down Hot-Hatch Or A Style Icon To Take On The MINI?


Is The GR Yaris RS Just A Watered Down Hot-Hatch Or A Style Icon To Take On The MINI?

Stop for a while and just look at it, and ask yourself when was the last time you saw something that bold and stylish come out of Japan?

Yes, you could argue the Honda S660 and Mazda 3 are sublime looking in their own aspects, but the GR Yaris ‘RS’ variant just looks more macho doesn’t it…especially in black! And who could argue that with cars like the Toyota C-HR and Supra setting the tone prior to the Yaris, Toyota are on roll as far as design renaissance goes.

So, what exactly have they done to create the GR Yaris RS?

Well, Toyota have taken the same chiselled exterior of the GR Yaris RZ – basically, a hot-blooded hatch conforming to World Rally Car specifications, reimagined it as a road-going special – and given it a more civilised drivetrain.

Now instead of the insane (272PS/370Nm) ‘G16E-GTS’ 1.6-litre, 3-cylinder turbocharged mill, the RS gets the naturally-aspirated 1.5-litre ‘M15A-FKS’ 3-cylinder which produces a meagre 120PS and 145Nm; marginally more than what a 1.5-litre delivers. The RS also swaps out the RZ’s 6-speed manual transmission and 'GR-Four' sports 4WD system in favour of a CVT-Type automatic with 10-pseudo ratios only powering the front wheels.

Those are the major differences.

But in doing so, have Toyota simply diluted the value of the Yaris GR by taking an otherwise race-bred car and turning it into dolled-up grocery getter or have they just made a modern style icon to rival the likes of the MINI Cooper and Fiat 500?

I’m firmly on the side of the latter. The Yaris RS is such a masterstroke, it might even pay enough of the bills so that we might have the second and third generations of this very special car.

As Toyota put it, the Yaris RS was jointly developed with the RZ from “valuations by non-Toyota professional drivers from the early stages of development. It was developed to respond to driver input on various types of roads around the world, and enable anyone to drive as they wish”. That makes perfect sense because some people might just want it for the way it looks, and have little interest in setting a Nurburgring lap time every other weekend.

However, Toyota has not skimped on the rest car just because it has less power and drives two fewer wheels – the RS retains the lightweight and aerodynamic bodyshell, aluminium hood, back door, and door panels… it even has the same carbon fiber-reinforced plastic roof panel.

The RS also shares the same suspension setup – featuring MacPherson struts up front and double-wishbones at the rear and wears the similar-sized 225/40R18 tyres (though the RZ is supplied with Michelin Pilot Sport 4S performance tyres).

The RS variant will also be manufactured at the same ‘GR Factory’ facility in Motomachi as its fire-breathing RZ, and RC brethren. The full-range of the GR Yaris – the RS, RZ, and RC (race homologation variant based on the RZ- Japan only) – goes on sale in Europe and Japan starting September 2020.

While we do know that some 100 units of the GR Yaris RZ are making their way to Malaysian shores, we can't help but get more excited about the Yaris RS now!

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