• Pricing for the GR Yaris starts from R606 600.
• Its turbocharged 1.6-litre engine makes 198kW in Rally trim.
• Other manual-equipped cars include the Honda Civic Type R, Hyundai i30 N and Fiat Abarth 595.
• For more motoring stories, visit Wheels24.
It was in 2018 when Toyota gave the motoring media a taste of what their performance arm Gazoo Racing could do in the form of the supercharged 156kW Yaris GRMN.
The Japanese brand then dipped into the performance pot again when it unleashed the legendary 250kW Supra a year later. Appetites tantalised, and tongues were wagging as local petrolheads waited in eager anticipation for the next dosage.
More than a year and a half later, South Africans are 'patiently' waiting for the launch of the latest GR Yaris. The new version employs a turbocharged 1.6-litre engine that makes 198kW and 320Nm, with a six-speed manual transmission sending power to the front, rear or all four wheels.
Manual's for purists
People immediately sized up the GR to Volkswagen's upcoming Golf 8 GTI, with the Yaris in Rally trim outmatching the Golf in the power department by 18kW. Of course, in the GTI, it is aided by a self-shifting DSG transmission as opposed to the GR's six-speed manual gearbox.
What do you think of the new GR Yaris? Email us, or share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Where performance is concerned, more automakers are going the automatic route with only a handful of them like Fiat, Suzuki, Hyundai, and Honda sticking true to the 'roots' offering brand-new examples.
Pricing is a massive talking point, and it starts from R606 600, with many people questioning whether they would spend that much money on a Yaris. The thing is, the GR is an entirely different proposition - it is a rally car made for the road and gone is the visions of it being a frugal people carrier or little city car.
The GR Yaris has yet to be launched locally, and we take a look at some of the manual-shifting counterparts it will likely go up against. Here they are:
Honda Civic Type R (R789 400)
Starting with the fastest and most expensive offering on the list. Honda first launched its all-new Civic Type R in 2018 that made it the fastest version to date.
Its power source comes from a turbocharged 2.0-litre engine equipped with VTEC technology that delivers 228kW and 400Nm to the front wheels. Swapping cogs is done via a six-speed manual transmission.
Hyundai i30 N (from R679 900)
The Korean brand is a relative newcomer to the performance game in South Africa, and their i30 N hot hatch was their attempt at staking a claim against the likes of the GTI.
Perhaps surprising was the use of a six-speed manual transmission that worked in unison with a 2.0-litre TGDi four-cylinder petrol engine that produces 202kW and 353Nm.
Fiat Abarth 595 (from R379 990)
The little Italian number might be the lesser of three evils, but it is certainly no slouch when it has to put the power down onto the tarmac. It uses a 1.4 T-Jet petrol engine that makes as much as 132kW and 250Nm.
Customers can choose whether to shift gears themselves or via an automatic transmission. When comparing apples with apples, the manual is in the spotlight here.
Worth a mention
Suzuki Swift Sport (from R349 900)
It might pale in comparison to the Yaris and the rest of the list in terms of speed and performance, but it gets onto the list because of its sheer track-focused construct and lightweight chassis. And because it's such a popular and well-loved little car.
Under the bonnet is a turbocharged 1.4-litre engine that develops 103kW and 230Nm, but it weighs a mere 970kg, mated to either a six-speed automatic or manual transmission.