New Toyota HiLux GR S details drop: New shocks and brakes to "push any limit" - but this isn't the Ford Ranger Raptor rival you've been waiting for...
Toyota in the Phillipines has live-streamed the launch of its sportiest HiLux...
Browse over 9,000 car reviews
Toyota nearly blew up the internet last year when it revealed Australian pricing for the highly anticipated GR Yaris hot hatch.
In September 2020, Toyota confirmed a strictly limited drive-away price of $39,950 for the first 1000 examples. After that allocation quickly sold out, the price reverted to the standard pricing – $49,500 before on-road costs.
The big jump didn’t stop keen punters from putting down their hard-earned cash to make sure they didn’t miss out on the all-paw hatchback. The overwhelming demand prompted Toyota Australia to announce a temporary sales pause on the GR Yaris in July this year.
According to Toyota Australia, that sales pause is still in effect, meaning hungry hot hatch enthusiasts either need to wait, or look elsewhere.
If you had your heart set on buying a GR Yaris but lack patience, here are a selection of other cars you could spend your $50k on.
Like the GR Yaris, the Abarth 595 Competizione has three doors, a wildly impractical boot and a performance-focused chassis. But that’s probably where the similarities end.
The front-wheel drive Abarth pumps out 132kW/250Nm – well down on the 200kW/370Nm of the GR Yaris – but it’s an absolute hoot to drive. The high-set driver’s seat takes adjusting to and there are some questionable interior design choices, but the little Italian has bucketloads of charm.
At $36,950 before on-road costs for the five-speed manual, it’s also about $14,000 cheaper than the Toyota.
Ford Fiesta ST
The 2020 Ford Fiesta ST improved on the brilliant previous-generation version with a more comfortable ride, new safety gear and a more modern, well-equipped cabin. But it still retained the sure-footed dynamism of the original.
A facelifted version is hitting local showrooms in quarter one next year, with revised exterior styling, premium lighting and upgraded in-car tech. Pricing hasn’t been confirmed, but the current model retails for $32,290 before on-road costs – a performance bargain compared with the GR Yaris.
The 147kW/290Nm 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine is brilliantly matched with a smooth six-speed manual driving the front wheels. It’s not as punchy and quick as the GR Yaris, but it wins on practicality because it has five doors, a decent second row and useable boot.
Hyundai i20 N
The sharp-looking i20 has the practicality advantage over the GR Yaris and it’s about $17,000 cheaper. Given how impressive its i30 N sibling is, the i20 N is something to look forward to.
Mini Cooper S
Another three-door hatch that’s bags of fun is the Mini Cooper S. It offers more than enough performance to satisfy driving enthusiasts, without the poke of the full-fat John Cooper Works. And at $46,950 before on-roads for the manual Classic, you’re saving $3000 compared with the Yaris.
Mini’s go-kart handling adds to the appeal of the Cooper S – this thing loves to corner. The interior has more pizazz than any mainstream warm or hot hatch. Premium materials and the quirky switchgear help. You can’t help but smile when you drive the Cooper S.
If all-paw traction and a responsive turbocharged engine are the main requirements, perhaps you could consider the original boy-racer, the Subaru WRX?
The new-generation version has just been revealed and is due in showrooms in the first half of next year, but there’s still some stock of the outgoing model in dealers.
Starting from $40,990 before on-roads for the entry-level manual, the four-door sedan has undeniable performance chops, and, like the GR Yaris, is bred for rally driving.
For about $6500 more than the GR Yaris, you could get yourself into a warmed-up BMW 1 Series. The new 128ti sits under the M135i performance hero, but with 180kW/380Nm on tap, it’s a competitor to the likes of the new-gen Volkswagen Golf GTI.
It has a much more premium cabin than the Yaris and the sort of badge cache that will impress your snobby neighbours.
Skoda Octavia RS
For roughly the same price as the GR Yaris, why not consider the recently launched fourth-generation Skoda Octavia RS wagon? Infinitely more practical than the Yaris, and, arguably, just as fun to drive.
The RS wagon costs $49,590 before on-road costs and represents excellent value for money. As well as the spacious, minimalist interior and acres of boot space, the front-drive Octavia RS is powered by a 180kW/370Nm turbocharged four-cylinder engine that loves to be pushed hard. One of the best bang-for-your-buck buys on the market right now.
Ok, so a large rear-drive four-door sedan is kind of the opposite of a three-door all-wheel-drive light hot hatch. But the Stinger is a favourite for a reason. It’s a genuine performance sedan and one of Kia’s most polished models.
If the idea of a twin-turbo V6 is a bit much, the turbocharged 182kW/353Nm four-pot is still responsive and starts from $50,050 before on-roads – just $550 more than the GR Yaris.
Ford Escape ST-Line
Surprise! We’ve thrown a mid-size SUV out there as an alternative to the GR Yaris. Hear us out. Clearly the Ford Escape is a family-focused vehicle that will spend most of its time ferrying kids around.
But, with 183kW/387Nm on tap from the spicy four-cylinder turbo, it can dash from 0-100km/h in just over six seconds. And it is one of the most dynamically capable offerings in its segment, making it the pick for driving enthusiasts that need a genuinely practical family car. And from $40,990 before on-roads for the all-wheel drive, you’re saving $9000.