Singapore - What separates an exceptional car from a merely good one? For starters, we never want to return the keys to the exceptional cars! You’d think that this is an occupational hazard for a person who warms the seats of possibly 60 or more cars a year, except it isn’t.
These days, all cars are to greater (or lesser) extent, good. Mechanically (or Electrically), there isn’t much to fault – it’s just a matter of which body-style one prefers to go with whichever price/powertrain tier you’ve decided on. You no longer have to contend with dangerously sharp edges in the cabin, trim falling off or newspaper stuffed into seats in place of actual cushion padding.
As manufacturers scramble to build the type of cars they (rightly) think the masses want, you end up with a largely homogenous landscape, with the different (yet familiar) brands swopping pole position depending on their respective product/powertrain life-cycles.
Of course, this phenomenon is less pronounced the higher up the price hierarchy one progresses, but we’re talking easily S$800k and up to be able to skirt the edges of ‘exceptional’.
And this is exactly why the Toyota GR Yaris delivers so much ‘wow’, and is one of the few occasions where reality is far larger than hype. The fact that the lightweight hot-hatch has those outrageously phat flares, that mad stance and a sweet stick-shift honey-pot to stir is just the tip of a very, very large ice-berg.
(Click HERE to read our full review of the Toyota GR Yaris)
The big deal to this little car? The GR Yaris is a motorsports homologation model built by Toyota Gazoo Racing and Tommi Mäkinen Racing (the brand’s WRC partner) – never mind the fact that it will never do battle in the WRC series it was homologated for.
The tiny tyke is a real tarmac terrorist, with proper weighting to the essential controls to appeal to us die-hard petrolheads.
There’s little concession to non-essential mod-cons; more importantly, three-pot engine, chassis, brakes, steering and shifts have been finely honed to offer the most unadulterated driving pleasure, and all this for under S$200k.
Sound expensive? Not really, because this is the ballpark price point of most of the other hot-hatches in the market today. Except the GR Yaris is a proper homologation special, and in some eyes, this is a priceless credential to have in this price-tier.
By the time you read this, the key to the GR Yaris would have been (reluctantly) returned and you can read all about it next issue, but this Ed Note is an example of what a big impact the little car had.
All through June, I was lucky enough to have driven a few (both the official demo, as well as several owners’ cars) and the Dark Side of the ‘Want’ has never been stronger. Except all 22 ‘official’ units have already been sold...