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.
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
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.
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.
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…
Then came a VR kit for a special event for 1st edition customers on the official launch date for the car, 16th of September.
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...
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.
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.