The Toyota GR Yaris could get a more potent big brother after all, with the hardcore Performance Pack model back on the cards for an eventual Australian launch.
While the brand is yet to confirm the hardcore model for our market, Toyota's executives have now confirmed they're evaluating it and haven't ruled it out. That's a sharp about-face from Toyota, who made it clear at the preview drive of the brand's first hot hatch in more than decade that Australia would receive only the standard version of the GR Yaris, with the Performance Pack ruled out for our market.
Now it must be said, the word "standard" is relative. Even the lower-grade car offers a sizeable 200kW and 370Nm wallop from its super-clever turbocharged 1.6-litre, three-cylinder engine, sending that grunt to the pavement via a six-speed manual gearbox and an AWD system adopted from the RAV4 SUV.
But while that's all good news, there was a downside. Namely that Australia was going to miss out on the hardcore Performance Pack car, which ups the track appeal considerably with Michelin Pilot rubber at each corner, and a mechanical limited-slip diff front and rear. CarsGuide has sampled both versions, and can confirm a noticeable difference in the way the Performance Pack handles track work.
But that appears to have changed, with Toyota Australia telling CarsGuide the hardcore model was back on the table, though conceding that the GR Yaris will launch exclusively with the standard version in Q4 this year.
"The GR Yaris will be a great addition to our lineup, and I can’t wait for Australians who are into performance cars to experience our first hot hatch since 2006," says Toyota Australia's sales and marketing chief, Sean Hanley.
"At this stage we’re only launching one. (But) we took the feedback on board, and (the Performance Pace) is something that we did investigate and look into. We have no announcement at this stage, but we won't rule it out in the future.
"We certainly got strong feedback that it’s desirable."
As far as what to expect regarding price and specification from the GR Yaris when it does arrive in Australia, Toyota is keeping mum, other than to promise that fans "will be happy".
Be warned, though, the GR Yaris is unlikely to be cheap, with Toyota not seeing any of the regular city-sized hot hatch crowd (think Fiesta ST) as a threat. Instead, they list the bigger and more expensive Subaru WRX and Ford Focus RS as its true competitors.
"We’ll announce that as we get closer to launch, but I think everyone will be happy," Mr Hanley said.