Toyota has revealed the GR Yaris production car at the 2020 Tokyo Auto Salon, with a surprise cameo by company boss and petrolhead Akio Toyoda, escorted out by a bevy of imported Thai pretties. This is a small car, but it’s a big deal. The big T really didn’t have to make the GR Yaris, but made it they did.

Here’s the deal. To us, the GR Yaris is the spiritual successor to the famous Celica GT-Four from the 80s/90s. You know, the Castrol liveried WRC car you played in Sega Rally – yes, that one. This is because the GR Yaris’ reason to exist is the World Rally Championship, like that famous Celica homologation special. Or the Evo and WRX STI of yesteryear.

To be sure, there’s a new Yaris in town (not our ASEAN version, but the latest TNGA European supermini that debut late last year), but as with most superminis these days, it’s five-door only because of market demand. Toyota created this bespoke three-door body just so that they can have a better base for their 2021 Yaris WRC car.

Rules dictate that the WRC cars have to be based on production car bodies, and this three-door style, with the rear of its roof (made of carbon fibre reinforced plastic, by the way) sloped to the max, will allow for better aero on the eventual rally car. That’s next year.

For this 2020 WRC season, the Toyota works team is carrying over last year’s Yaris that helped Ott Tänak win the driver’s championship and just lost out the manufacturer’s championship to Hyundai. From this base car, expect a Yaris R5 rally car as well.

The platform and wheelbase of the GR Yaris is similar to the civilian Yaris, but apart from the two fewer doors and lower roofline, just look at those rear arches!

The bespoke body is just half of what’s special here. Under the hood and pushed back as far as possible is a turbocharged G16E-GTS 1.6 litre three-cylinder engine pushing out 272 PS and 370 Nm of torque. That’s no typo, and those figures are astounding for a three-pot motor. Power to weight ratio is 4.706 kg/PS.

Hooked up to what’s said to be the lightest and most powerful production 1.6L engine around is a six-speed manual gearbox. Gazoo is also parading a unit of the GR Yaris at TAS tagged as “CVT Concept”, hinting at a future automatic variant.

Power goes to all four corners through a GR-Four AWD system and doing the shuffling are two Torsen mechanical self-locking differentials at each end. The pilot gets to choose from three settings – Normal (60:40 split), Sport (30:70) and Track (50:50). Would it have been nicer to call the latter Dirt or Gravel and the rear-biased mode Track instead?

The front suspension is MacPherson struts and the standard Yaris’ rear torsion beam has been swapped for double wishbones. No active damping or variable ride height in the interest of weight. The multi-spoke wheels you see here are 18-inch BBS items wrapped in Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres, although Enkei rollers shod in Dunlop SP Sport Maxx 050 rubber come as standard.

Now, you probably won’t think of this kind of car as a weight watcher, but that was one of Gazoo’s targets for the hot Yaris – along with the three-pot engine and CFRP roof, the doors and hood are from aluminium. There’s no centre diff for the same reason. As such, this heavy-hitting all-wheel drive hot hatch isn’t actually all that heavy, weighing in at just 1,280 kg.

Unlike say, the Honda Civic Type R, the GR Yaris is a rather bespoke car with the main parts – body and powertrain – not found elsewhere in the civilian range. Which makes the prices sound rather reasonable – two variants are available, the RZ at 3.96 million yen (RM147,889) and the RZ “High Performance” at 4.56 million yen (RM170,294). Contrast this with the FK8, which retails at 4.5 million yen (RM167,864).

Can we expect it to come to Malaysia? We already have GR Garages, and they’re housing just one model… What do you think of this WRC homologation special hot hatch?