Toyota Motor Philippines is driving towards a major reinvention of their image from offering just reliable cars to selling exciting cars. It actually started in 2012 when they launched the 86 (AKA: GT86), followed by the green light for the Toyota Vios Cup in 2014, and again in 2019 with the launch of the GR Supra; GR being Toyota Gazoo Racing.
Now they've got something new, and it's another full-fledged Gazoo Racing model: the GR Yaris.
Yes, the Yaris that has been bred to compete in the World Rally Championships by Toyota Gazoo Racing is being made available in the Philippines. It is not the same Yaris that typically comes from Thailand as the design is totally different especially with the GR modifications, and it's not a 5-door; this is a 3-door.
What matters is the performance: this GR Yaris has a 1.6L three-cylinder turbo engine that makes 261 horsepower and 300 Nm of torque. It will only be offered with a 6-speed manual, and it has an all-wheel drive system called GR-Four. Sounds like a neat throwback to the Celica GT-Four, right?
When Toyota announced the GR Yaris for the Philippine market a few weeks ago, there are already many interested parties that visited their dealerships to place a reservation for this powerful pocket-sized rally rocket. Their reservations for this PHP 2.65 million car were well placed; we just drove the GR Yaris at the Clark International Speedway can tell you that this new Toyota is outstanding on the track.
But there is a problem: dealers have been instructed by Toyota Motor Philippines to stop accepting reservations. And the issue is an age old one for Toyota: allocation.
During our drive of the GR Yaris, Toyota Motor Philippines executives stated that our market has an allocation of about 130+ units. And the reservations at the dealers are already well beyond that, hence the order to stop accepting reservations.
130+ units isn't an exact number; they don't know yet because it will depend on production. It may go up to about 150, according to Toyota insiders. What we have been told is that the Asia Pacific region will only have 700 units total and that the 130-150 units are already the lion's share of that allocation.
Allocation is a common term that is familiar to anyone who has ever lined up for a popular Toyota model that has just been launched. But while that has normally been about supply versus demand, the case of the GR Yaris is different because it is what we call a “homologation special”.
The international motorsport sanctioning body, the FIA, has rules that a certain number of vehicles be made for sale to the public for a manufacturer to enter it as a race car in one of their race series. So if a manufacturer wants to enter the touring car championships or the rally championships sanctioned by the FIA, then they have to build a specific number of these vehicles to sell. These are legitimate race cars for the road.
Yes, the GR Yaris is one of those since Toyota is fielding a similar model in the World Rally Championship. If we understand the current FIA rules correctly, Toyota has to build about 2,500 units of the GR Yaris for the first year. But from what we understand, they may do a few more depending on how it goes.
So if you got a GR Yaris unit assigned to you, then you're lucky; it will likely become quite a car for collectors. Some notable examples of other homologation specials include the BMW M3, the Subaru Impreza WRX, the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution series, the Mercedes 190 Evolution, the Porsche 911 GT3 RS, and more.