The 2020 Toyota GR Yaris is exactly the kind of car that didn’t need to exist, but does anyway. The only reason why the Japanese automaker went to such great lengths to introduce the GR Yaris is so that they have a better base car for the 2021 World Rally Championships.

The platform and wheelbase of the GR Yaris is similar to the regular Yaris, but it drops the rear doors in favour of massive rear arches. Power comes from a turbocharged G16E-GTS 1.6 litre three-cylinder engine that’s pushed as far back as possible, producing 272 PS and 370 Nm of torque. Power to weight ratio is 4.706 kg per PS, and Toyota claims that the three-potter is the most powerful engine of its kind.

A six-speed manual gearbox is standard, though a CVT may be introduced sometime in the future. Power is routed to all four wheels through a unique GR_Four AWD system, featuring two Torsen mechanical self-locking differentials at each end. The design is largely due to weight savings, and allows three settings – Normal (60:40 split), Sport (30:70) and Track (50:50).

For suspension, the front gets MacPherson struts and the rear gets double wishbones (standard Yaris gets torsion beam instead). No active damping or variable ride height in the interest of weight. The show car sits on 18-inch multi-spoke BBS wheels wrapped in Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres, although Enkei rollers shod in Dunlop SP Sport Maxx 050 rubber come as standard.

Two variants of the hot hatch are available, starting with 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 Civic Type R, which retails at 4.5 million yen (RM167,864). Which would you choose?