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Life with a Yaris as a sensible family hatchback...

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...and in the blink of an eye 3 years have gone by. It only occurred to me/us when the dealer called up to remind us of the upcoming shaken inspection and tax payment and to inquire what I wanted to do with the car loan. So off to inspection it went and decided to totally pay off the car. So now she is totally mine :)


At the 3 year mark I have put 10,xxxkms on it and each one of those kms have been more smile worthier than the other. Interestingly as the engine broke in the car became more lively as the engine was way more rev happy. In 2022 GR Garage started a personalization program called GR Personal Selection. The program offered owners the chance to take the car for a track day, drive it and tune the car according to their own driving style. This included a software upgrade which bumped up torque to 390Nm (an increase of 20Nm from the stock 370), adjustments to steering weight, throttle response and AWD torque split. Unfortunately, the track days didn't work out with my schedule so got it tuned to some presets that were offered. So now the car has 390Nm of torque, heavier steering and high throttle response. I didn't do anything with the torque split of the AWD system as I felt the changes introduced a bit of understeer which I didn't like. The upgrades have made the car a lot easier to drive. So much so my wife, who always made the car leap from stand still or jerk when accelerating and shifting gears, found it a lot easier to drive than before.



I bought the GR Yaris completely out of impulse. The original plan was to buy a standard Yaris with a MT until the GR Corolla was released. Thus, once the GR Corolla was released in Japan I had to go try it out and put my name down for one. 


The GR Corolla was a nice car. It is a lot easier to drive. The two rear doors make the car a lot more practical. The car does have a larger cargo area, however the usable space is not that much larger than the GR Yaris. The best thing about the GR Corolla is the engine improvements. The power delivery is much smoother and the engine is more responsive (the updated engine is going to be offered in the facelifted GR Yaris).
Performance wise, although the GRC has more power, you cannot not actually feel it due to the added weight. Track runs have shown both cars to be equal in things like 0-100 times, etc...the main difference seems to be in terms of handling. The consensus seems to be that the GRY is better for rallying and B-roads (due to the shorter wheelbase) and the GRC is better for track use.

Which brings me to what I did not like in the GRC. The weight...and the longer wheelbase. The GRC feels less nimble and playful than the GRY. Albeit...straight line, flat-out..the GRC is a lot more stable.  Which I support is in line with the above mentioned consensus.
So, after a lot of driving around in the GRC and a track day with the GRC and a bunch of other GR cars, I decided to stick with the GR Yaris (I was hoping to keep the GRY and buy the GRC as a second family car for its practicality. Wife insisted I had to trade in the GRY).

Then there was the whole purchase method for the GRC. The cars were offered only through lottery with each round of lottery having only 550 cars (Toyota closed its 2nd lottery a few months ago and the next one is supposed to come up in a few months). To give you an idea of how crazy the lottery is....I went to the dealership/GR Garage to apply for the lottery the morning after the lottery started (1.00pm prev day). The system already showed 5000+ lottery applications. The low chances of actually winning the lottery reaffirmed my decision to hold on to the GRY.

The GR Garage is a total car person's den. It has two racing sims, a library with car books, mini cars...and always has a selection of fun cars. In this instance they had their (Toyota Corolla dealership's) GRMN Yaris and GR Corolla Morizo edition apart from the white one in the previous pic).


Now..the second moment of temptation..

I was so mad with Toyota that I went and ordered a Civic Type R. Now that was a very refined car. FWD and wonderfully balanced. Interior was well appointed. The adaptive suspension was quite good. The car came in at 4.9mil yen fully loaded (compared to the GRC's price of 5.8mil) and the car made you feel special for all that money you spent on it. At the time of placing the order the delivery period was 4 years. To my good fortune, Honda called last December and said I could have mine in April 2024 if I still wanted it.


So... :) am I getting a Civic Type R in April ? I suppose we will have to wait and see. For now..life goes on with the GRY ....




Yes...we still have the old Corolla. She turns 25 this year and has 52,000km. Still runs strong and along with her shaken inspection next week I will be replacing some oil seals (for good measure as some are 25 years old and some 10). Other than that I replaced two engine mounts and replaced the clutch and pressure plates about 2 years ago

Its amazing how small the Corolla wagon is compared to the GRY.

The day Toyota was crazy enough to ask a bunch of us to drive their cars :)


The blue Supra was a manual and LOVED it ! If I could have afforded it that would be a car I would give up the GRY for in less than a heart beat.

The pure grunt and glorious sound of a V8 was mesmerizing.

Now....about that family car I wanted until a new toy comes around. Because the chances of getting a GRC was so low...the dealership managed to sell us a facelifted Corolla Touring ! Our/my first Hybrid car. The facelift has some exterior/interior design improvements, but the main change is the hybrid system. It now uses a 5th gen HSD mated to a 1.8L engine. Has a total combined output of about 137? hp and tons of torque thanks to an updated control unit and lighter batteries (so it has more power than the pre-facelift model and weighs less). It is interesting how the system handles the charge/discharge. The car does not let the battery charge up to a 100%. Only time it does is when driving long distances on the highway or going up and and down hills. At such times it just starts cruising on EV mode.  Its biggest let down is the eCVT and has a little bit space than the old Corolla wagon...but everything else is pretty sweet. All in-all the (temporary ?) purchase of the Corolla Touring worked out quite well considering some unexpected life changes. 





The GR Yaris...1 year and 3 months on...

Ownership Review

For starters...I do not drive it nearly as much as I would like to (or should). I am barely reaching the 5000km mark now....however, the 5000km that I have put on have been rather exhilarating long drives...so there is that.

May be an image of car, road and text that says '福岡 331* す'

The car does sound like a tractor on start up :)


For the most part, the car has been a pretty trouble free car. Although the car is not practical, with limited rear passenger and cargo space, we have made it work; and the car has become our long distance cruiser. The car feels very safe and planted than the Corolla, so when ever we hit the highway, its always the Yaris.  Using the car for a while has made two things obvious:

1. Toyota has not spent much money on the nicities: For what you pay for it; what you get is almost everything that is mechanical. Apart from the to front premium sports seats, everything else about the interior (including the faux leatehr rear seat) just feels cheap. Its full of black cheap plastics. However, there is a bit of contrast in texture that makes it somewhat acceptable. In fact the high gade (Z ?) standard Yaris and Yaris Cross have much nicer interiors. Heck..the GR Yaris doesn't even come with a reverse camera and standard in Japan and only comes if you get the Safety Sense package which is a 250,000yen extra (but having safety sense reduces some taxes and insurance premiums a bit so what it eventuallly costs you is a little bit less). Heck..sports car right ?


2. Everything that has been done to the car has been done for a reason : When you whip the car around you feel the ho the low weight roof has helped to place most of the weight on the bottom of the car. The wider rear track and the longer suspension travel makes complete sense when you are ripping around a bumpy b-road. Although the car can be a bit jittery around town, at speed it just eats up the bumps like it doesn't exist. Also, the way the car pivots (again courtesy of the different track widths).

The car is very playful...as techie as it is, it is also obvious that the car is not as refined as the Evo or the WRX in terms of the AWD (and even power delivery). It is sheer grunt. As a result, the GR Yaris is a car that you have to constantly drive when you are driving at the limit. When you drive an Evo or WRX, even if you shut off your brain for a few seconds, pick a line and stepat the gas; you feel the AWD system working to keep you on track and deliver the optimal power to get you in and out of a corner. The GR Yaris...not so much...you have to listen to the car and you as the driver needs to know what you should do to get you through that corner. So if the Evo/WRX are semi automatic, point and shoot cameras; the GR Yaris is like a completely manual camera from the late 70s.  On the topic of constantly driving and listening to the car: the car is very communicative. What gives me the biggest kick is the little twitch it does in the rear when it reaches a point of underseering or oversteering :)

Maintenance wise I have not done anything other than the 1000km check up which was the end of the break in period. The break in was pretty fuss free except for the rear diff having a knock everytime I let go of the clutch. This was fixed after a fluid change (along with every other fluid) at the 1000k check up. Other than that there was a safety inspection after the 1st year and now the next oil change is up (1 year after the 1000km checkup because I do not use the car that much).

Being a bespoke car and perhaps not going throughthe rigorous QA of standard Toyota cars, somethings are a bit of a miss. The carbon fibre wrap (that covers the actual carbon fibre roof) doesn't have any treatment on it so it is easy to get dirty (I use a lot of product to keep it clean). As a result many other owners have had their roofs develop a white patch.



Then there is a rubber beading that runs along the roof gutter where the carbon roof joins the metal body. The beading has a tendency to shrivel up on the rear-end. So it doesnt neatly fit in the back. Then the trunk mounted battery has a breather valve itha hose running to the floor of the trunk for the gases and any battery fluid to escape. Unfortunately the battery fluid gets splattered on the under carraige and leaves a rust trail. Other than that...the only thing I have about the car is that the plastics scratch easily and the brake pads release a lot of dust (which is a pain to clean).44137.thumb.jpg.1bf5e332867a349b3f23535ab76fcd6e.jpg


I shall not post any rear-end pics :)





Walk Around - Part II

Ownership Review

Now..moving on to the interior....

The car has frameless doors...huge frameless doors.


The dashboard is straight out of the standard Yaris. 


Stepping in, you are greeted with a pretty old fashioned mechanical cluster. Some people do not like it and wants it to be a fancy digital one similar to what is found in the high spec standard Yaris. I like it...it is simple, straight forward...has a very functional feel to it. Took a while for me to figure out how to adjust its brightness as there is no scroll switch...


A little tag that only few cars can actually claim it and stand behind it as well..


Then there is the Button of Joy with a chucky gear lever...



The dashboard being straight out of the standard Yaris does not work out too well at times. The location of the USB port makes sense in the standard Yaris as there is a huge cubby hole to leave your phone and other connected devices. Obviously this isn't possible in the GR Yaris, which leads to the phone getting kept on a storage deck under the TV screen with the USB cable running in front of the AC controls and the phone sliding off at times. Alternative is toput the device behind the cup holders behind the hand brake, which leads to the cable running across the gear lever.

Its nice to see a manual hand brake in cars these days. This particular one has been setup for cornering by setting up the GR Four AWD's coupling system to fully open when the hand brake has been pulled. No...I have not tried it yet :D


Premium Sports seats which comes only with the RZ High Performance (and equivelant grades) with the red stiching and perforated dots. 


The rear seat is not the most practical for passengers. My wife who is about 160cm easiy fits in the back with me driving. Its hard to expect an adult anything taller than 165cm to be able to comfortably sit back there on long journies.  A child seat can be fitted in the back but harnessing a baby or toddler in there would not be that easy. It works for my kids as they can buckle them up themselves

I hate the fact that only the front passenger side seat has a seat pull-out leaver to pull the seat forward in one go for the rear passengers to get out.


The speaker for the Active Sound Control..comes standard in the High Performance variant or with the upgraded audio system. There are two on top, one on top of each front passenger seat. It is to pipe in pseudo-fake engine noise. I say pseudo fake as the actual sound is induction noise that has been filtered and then piped in to the car. So it is not fully natural...nor is it fully fake. The exhaust tone is quite appaling so at least this keeps things interesting.


The trunk is good for week's grocey or a medium sized suitcase and a backpack. 





Walk around - Part I

Ownership Review

Here are more pictures of the car before I bore you with words to read...

The car has an interesting width to length to height ratio....kind of reminds me of one of those Tamiya snap-on model cars with disproportionate dimensions. The only concern I have is the front wheel splurting out debris on to the rear fender. Well..it is not a concern..it is a fear. Other users have had their rear fenders pitted with debris, but they all have taken their cars racing. No..Toyota does not offer mud flaps for this. Yaris Cross TRD flaps can be made to fit apparently and right now the options are from the likes of Rally Flaps..either way they cost about 30,000 yen per set. Thinking of getting some generic flaps and cutting them out to fit the car.



The little badge that says it has something special that will take you almost anywhere...


A back-end that you grow in to...from side to side the car measures in at 1805mm (for reference...a Prado is 1885mm, Allion and Hiace (std body) is ~1695; GT86 1775). That is pretty wide for a car that is only 3995mm long (Allion 4590mm/GT86 4240mm). It took a few days to get used to the stormtrooper helmet look. As you can see...no rear wipers....the glass is so small it absolutely makes no sense to have one (but hey..race car...don't need one).



That is a bubbly lower rear end.


For once...it is nice to see Toyota design features actually doing something.

Functional air ducts to cool the brakes. These are standard on the RZ high Performance. All other grades have this covered and can be retrofitted by buying the parts seperately or bought as a dealer option. 



Practicality continues with the typical huge gaping grill found on all modern Toyotas. In this application it actually works to maximize air flow to the intercooler. 


Almost the same headlights you would find on the standard Yaris Z grade with a slightly different trim around the lamp. Again....matte black trim


18" Forged BBS rims wrapped in Michellin Pilot 4S tires....the tires are pretty good in the dry and wet...have not tried it in the snow and to be honest Summer sport tires never do well in low tempreture conditions. The combo is offered only in high Performance variants and as a 1st Edition exclusive the rims ae in matte black (although you have to be really really OCD to notice the difference with the nn-matte black variant).

4pot calipers with 356mm slotted disks (295mm and 2-pots in the back).  


Trunk mounted battery sitting right next to the water tank for the intercooler. The intercooler so far seems to have been offered only in the Japanese market high Performance variant as standard kit. The RC can be ordered with it as a dealer option or the parts can be bought from Toyota for a self installation.



Specification and Purchase

Ownership Review

As wonderful the previous true-life story is…on the 31st of May I applied online for contract negotiations, roughly about 1 month prior to close of applications; and finally signed a contract on the 3rd of July for a GR Yaris RZ High Performance 1st Edition. Delivery day was estimated to be towards the end of March, 2021. It was going to be a grueling 8.5 month wait.


I will spare you the general specs of the car as it has been posted all over the internet. However, one thing needs to be made clear...many peope (especialy in export markets..specifically Europe), have gotten the idea that the GR Yaris is a limited edition car with just 25,000 units produced. Not the case at all. Toyota has always claimed that they need to make ATLEAST 25,000 units for WRC homologation rules. The 25,000 is not a cieling limit. So Toyota would make as many as they can and makes sense for them to do so. 

Now..back on to the specs....The 1st Edition was offered in two trim levels. RZ and RZ High Performance. The RZ is similar to the base variant you get in other markets. Howeverm the Japanese market High Performance has a slightly different spec sheet compared to equivalent grades in export markets (Circuit Pack in Europe and Rallye in Australasia).

The High Performance comes with the Torsen LSD, large brakes and stiffer suspension which also comes in the CP and Rallye variants in other markets, but it also comes with a water sprayer for the Inter-Cooler, plus the 8 speaker premium stereo setup with Active Sound Control. The RZ comes with softer suspension, minus the LSD and the premium stereo and has different seats. In other markets other markets if you want the mechanical goodies you need to order the Circuit Pack (no mechanical upgrade package was offered for the RZ) and if you want the stereo and things like seat warmers you need to go for the Comfort Pack (offered for the RZ) but you cannot order both packs.

Being the First Edition, the car was offered with a slighlt different set of option selections and finishes than the RZ High Performance you can go out there and buy right now.

The most significant of which is the FINISH of the carbon fiber roof. The roof was offered in either a marble finish or in the traditional weave finish. The latter being a wrap and the former being the natural finish of the carbon fiber panel (manufactured by Mitsubishi). The marble finish looked very dull and resembled a mossy black stone with white on it rather than black marble. So I opted out of the 200,000yen marble finish feature.

Also for the first edition, the black trim and the 18” BBS forged (18x8J +45) wheels were in matte black (only for the RZ High Performance).

The RZ high Performance 1st edition was offered with what is called the Premium Sport Seat with Emotional Package (there was some weird name for this which I cannot remember). However, this is now being offered at a premium for regular High Performance orders as well. With the feature, all the stitching in the interior is red and the perforated holes on the suede of the faux-leather + suede seats has a red effect to it.

Right now the only true differing factor between the 1st Editionand the standard edition is Morizo-san’s signature.

My specific car was ordered in Emotional Red with the Emotional Sport seat. Other options included visors and carpets. That was it....pretty bare-bone at the time of ordering.

I  got a test drive 4 months after ordering my car…at which point I decided to add Toyota Safety Sense which is an option on the GR Yaris. The car’s standard safety features include TRC/VSC, ABS and 8 airbags.  Two factors changed my mind about not having TSS. First was the fact that I could not see anything out the back and with no reverse camera or sensors; parking in a narrow garage would have been an issue. With the new Toyota DisplayAudio system fixing an after market reverse camera is an absolute pain and Toyota did not offer a reverse cam only option for the Japanese market. Secondly, it has a lot of oomph, and if my wife was to drive it, I felt driver aides would be a good idea.

Toyota Safety Sense adds, a reverse camera along with the usual sensors for preemptive braking, accidental acceleration mitigation, rear cross traffic alert, etc.. plus a heads up display.

Image may contain: car and outdoor

The test drive was a RZ High Performance variant, but not a 1st edition. As you can see the trim is all shiny.

The wait went on... First came a key tag…

No photo description available.Then came a VR kit for a special event for 1st edition customers on the official launch date for the car, 16th of September.

No photo description available.

At its official launch, Toyota released two additional grades for the GR Yaris for the Japanese market.

RC, a stripped down RZ High performance, with smaller brakes and wheels and minus the intercooler sprayer. Instead of the standard Torsen LSD, it was offered with a mechanical LSD which was more suited for gravel and tarmac racing. The idea of the RC grade was to offer a high performace, low cost version for tose who wish to race the car and customize it at their own will. 

The second new grade was the RS, locally teased as Really Slow. It had the GR Yaris body with smaller brakes, wheels, softr suspension and the 1.5L NA engine out of the standard Yaris mated to a sport tuned CVT. This was obviously the cheapest GR Yaris starting at just 2.4mil yen. Apparently it is also the least sold grade for the GR Yaris. At thi point it is interesting to note that the RZ 1st Editions along with the RCs and RSs were being delivered around the first week of October along with a very few RZ High Perf. 1st Editions. The latter apparently takes a lot longer to make so delivery of the high spec versions was quite long.

The additional grades, especially the RS seemed to be a desperate attempt to make it to the 25,000 minimum production requirement (which was now not needed) as well as to spread out the production cost of the GR Yaris by transferring it across on to a cheaper, mass market variant (Toyota has hinted that they are hardly making any money on the car and that it was done just to meet race participation rules).

Then came a special mini car model of the GR Yaris made specially for those who pre-ordered the 1st Edition...

No photo description available.

Its an amazing casting and the details are extremely good.

Then in late November, we received a call from our dealer stating that the car will arrive at the dealership on the 18th of December. Nearly 4 months ahead of schedule !!! Apparently order volumes were not as overwhelming as Toyota had originally aniticipated. Thus delivery dates had moved up quite substantially. As I write this, there are shortages in some markets in Europe and Australia but that mainly seems to stem out of sales quotas that each of these countries had negotiated for.

18th of December came about...coincidentally,  the Corolla had some maintenance work scheduled for the 19th so was able to see the car at the dealer...and there she was...tucked away in a corner at the dealership.


That is a wide..wide...grill. I definitely do like the matte finish on the trim.

Now the whole registration proces had to start. As a foreigner, doing anything and everything that involves a government process in Japan completely and utterly sucks beyond words. So the registration took 2 days as opposed to the usual day (so that puts us on Sunday...this does not include the time that was taken to register and certify parking space for the car and other things which was done before the car was delivered). Now the insurance subscription can take place..that took another 3 days and finally the car was picked up on the 24th of December.

The dealer had accidentally charged us for a custom number for the plates...so selected 17.37 as a homage to the very first Toyota our famiy owned, 15 Sri 1737. A metallic blue, 1985, AE80 DX which my dad picked up in Japan when he and my mom came here for some training program in 1987. The thing costed us like 300,000LKR at the time after duty. It was also the first Toyota I drove..in 1987...


Some of the JDM-holics will notice the 3 (category) number as opposed to a 5 (categor) number you would expect in a hatchback. Although the car has a 1600cc engine and weighs just 1280kg (which apparently is spot on based on weigh-ins many have done on the internet), the car's width, at a whopping 1805mm, puts it in a standard passenger vehicle category.

We finally took delivery of the car on the 24th of December. After dropping the Corolla off at home...it was straight to the local Autobacs store for some rubber mats as snow was expected :) on Boxing day weekend.


So life with a yaris begins....


The search for a family hatchback...

Ownership Review : Model Selection

Twenty-20 was a strange year for all of us (with no guarantees and nothing but feelings of optimism of 2021 being better); and it also would happen to be the year we moved back to Japan after 4 years in Vietnam (in just 72 hours’ notice as opposed to a planned departure/move in June). Upon our arrival we went through 5 weeks of self-imposed quarantine due to various internal moves…anyway…enough about that.

As much as we love the Corolla wagon, it was apparent that the car was neither efficient nor safe. As fun as the car is, you can really feel the car’s fragility doing 100+ kmph on the freeway. Thus ensued the hunt for an economical, safe, family friendly hatchback.

The two main contenders were the Yaris and the new Fit. Both are really nice cars and the Fit had a nice feel to its drive but felt a bit too restrained and grandfather-ish compared to the Yaris which was more youthful. Fuel economy wise both offer attractive figures and are quite good in the safety department with active safety features such as 6+ airbags being standard along with driver assist tech like lane depature warning, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert as standard.

Some might wonder why none of the offerings from Nissan were considered..and why not even the safe Aqua. Well...my view was that at the time of us looking for a car, both the Aqua and eNote (and the March) were very dated cars. the platforms and tech was old..and they looked old.

Thus, a 1.5L Manual transmission Yaris was on the table (sadly there wasn’t a single manual test drive car anywhere in the prefecture thus could drive only a Hybrid CVT). I could not take a photo of the exact car we test drove…but it was a Z grade 1.5L Hybrid CVT much like the one in the following pic but in, might I say rather attractive, Avant-garde bronze metallic.


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