Reader's Ride | What it's like living with a R715 000 Toyota GR Yaris

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• Steven Darge has taken delivery of his brand new Toyota GR Yaris in July 2021.

• Since then, the car fulfilled roles as a sports car and the daily driver.

• Darge's car is number 55 of 190 allocated for the local market.

For more motoring stories, visit Wheels24

This is Part 2 of Wheels24 reader Steven Darge's GR Yaris story. Read why he put down a deposit to buy one without knowing its R715 000 price here.

190 units. That's how many GR Yaris models Toyota brought to South Africa. And would you believe it, but every single one of these units have been sold! Now, if you were lucky enough to acquire one, do know that a few million South Africans are - how shall we put it - jealous, but in a very good way.

One such lucky owner is Steven Darge, who, by February 2021, put his name in the order book and began the waiting process for his Toyota GR Yaris. Darge, a petrol head with a penchant for hot hatches, took delivery of his GR Yaris on 7 July 2021 and had been documenting his journey with the car on Twitter ever since. And though the proud owner has other machines in his garage, the GR Yaris has been putting some big smiles on his face recently.

We chat to Darge about his ownership experience and the highlights of owning one of the rarest Toyota's in the world.

'700 grand, for a Yaris?'

By the end of June 2021, the Toyota GR Yaris officially went on sale in South Africa, with Darge taking delivery of his car a little more than a week later. It's been a long-time coming for Darge who had always wanted another sporty Toyota other than the red 1997 Corolla RSI he inherited from his mother on his 18th birthday. So, when it was confirmed that our market would receive a select allocation, he made it his mission to ensure that his name is in the order book.

Just two models make up the local GR Yaris line-up: the GR Yaris GR-Four and GR-Four Rally. Darge opted for the latter as it offers the best of Toyota Gazoo Racing - Toyota's motorsport division - in a road-going package. The price? R715 600. Yet, Darge is convinced that it's been the best purchasing decision he has ever made on a car.

"The public has been massively curious about the GR Yaris, and given its limited numbers in South Africa, that will probably continue for a long time," says Darge. "I've been posting regular "What it's like living with a GR Yaris" updates on Twitter, and the reaction has always been positive, except for the people who can't believe what this Yaris costs: "700 grand, for a Yaris!?" Of course, those people might not be able to appreciate the sheer capabilities of this car. I thought my GTI received a lot of attention, but the GR is in an entirely different league."

Darge recalls how, one Friday in traffic, he was bombarded by curious eyes and road users photographing the car. One even willed him to wind down the window, only to say, "Bro, there's no way that's a Yaris!" Given the car's rarity, it's unlikely that Darge and the other 189 owners will be able to forego the public's curiosity.

Does it move, though?

A 1.6-litre three-cylinder petrol engine powers the GR Yaris. The turbocharged mill sends 198kW and 360Nm to all four wheels via - wait for it - a six-speed manual gearbox. It's a simple recipe, but one that stirs Utopian thoughts of just how much fun this car should be to drive. And if Darge is to be believed, your opinion on the car's performance is likely on the mark.

He explains how easily the car gains speed in a mind-blowing manner and how the accompanying whoosh of the turbo gets a giggle out of him - every time. Following a month of ownership, Darge says that he has never driven anything that made him feel as alive as his GR Yaris, yet the car can double-up as a comfortable daily.

He notes: "What I've come to love about the GR Yaris is how easy-going it is when you'd prefer a quiet drive to or from the office on a weekday morning or evening. But prod the loud pedal with your big toe, and the way the GR Yaris gains pace is mind-blowing. Sure, there's turbo-lag lower down the rev range, but it's simply inhuman how quickly this little Toyota can pick up speed."

steven darge, toyota gr yaris
Steven Darge's brand new Toyota GR Yaris

One word description

The little pocket rocket has garnered global acclaim for what it offers, with industry experts and owners lauding Toyota for giving its production the green light. So intense was the global interest that the car is sold out until 2023! The GR Yaris is, in fact, considered by many to be the best car to be launched this year - worldwide.

Darge has been a ball of excitement ever since taking ownership of car 55/190 and has been using it as his daily driver for the better part of a month. But how would he describe the car and his ownership experience? "It can be done in one word," he says. "Unbelievable.

"It's unbelievable that it exists and that South Africa even received a few of them. It's unbelievable that this car has somehow been lurking deep within the minds of Toyota's engineers and that it eventually broke free to become a reality. It's unbelievable how it's such a blast to drive even if you don't want to fly around corners way too quickly - which it's quite able to do without batting an eyelid. It's unbelievable how much attention and adoration it receives out on the road. It's unbelievable that it's a Yaris!"

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