Finally, then, the newbie of the group. The GR Yaris has created a huge amount of fuss: rave reviews from every publication and Twitter full of people gloating about having ordered one. It’s hard to remember a car that struck such a chord so quickly, save perhaps for the A110.
And no wonder. You will notice that the car here is a three-door. Students of the Yaris will know that every other model has five doors. Toyota’s engineers built an entirely unique hot hatch on an entirely unique platform. Cost? I’m not sure they know the meaning of the word.
In fact, Toyota’s expense has arguably gone even further than the engineering behind this incredibly complex hot hatch. The Japanese firm created an entire new motorsport division and a top-level rallying programme to apply the knowledge into its road cars that it would make itself. Not for Toyota a limited-run homologation special built by an outside supplier: it has flipped the whole thing on its head. As far as market strategies go, it’s bold.
Suddenly the cost of the GR Yaris starts to become understandable. Still, a unique platform reinforced all over the place, aluminium and carbonfibre composite body panels, all-independent suspension and the most powerful three-pot engine in the world doesn’t come cheap.
The aerodynamics were developed with help from Toyota’s World Rally Championship team, and it even has a four-wheel drive system with proper Torsen limited-slip diffs and a manual ’box. It’s everyone’s wish list of what a hot hatch should have.
As soon as you set off, it’s obvious that the GR Yaris is about more than the sum of its parts. Even though the A110 has the sunniest disposition of our three cars, you still treat it with slight kid gloves, especially in soaking weather. Rear-wheel-drive, mid-engined: that needs a little bit of building up to. The GR Yaris, on the other hand, is a hoot from the get-go.
Nothing will ever stop you having a laugh in this car. The A110 is the pure one, the middle-aged yoga instructor, whereas the Toyota is the teenager. It’s going to have fun and to hell with the consequences.
There’s a wonderful thrum from the three-pot that rewards through the rev range as the sound ebbs and flows. It’s not the most responsive from lower down (blame the single, relatively large single-scroll turbo for that), but once it’s singing above 2500rpm, it pulls cleanly right to the redline. It’s not quite the manic boost dump from Subaru Impreza WRXs of old, but it’s no less addictive or fun for it. It’s certainly fast enough to make any B-road a hoot.