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The 2020 Toyota GR Yaris is now open for pre-orders in Europe, and the rally homologation special hot hatch isn’t cheap, far from it. That’s entirely expected, given how bespoke it is. But exactly how expensive?

In Germany, the GR Yaris will start at 33,200 euros (RM156,024), which is just 2,000 euros (RM9,399) below the price of a Renault Megane RS, a hot hatch from the next class up. The latter is of course bigger and more powerful. Surprised? You shouldn’t be, because the Japan price of the top RZ High Performance GR Yaris is 4.56 million yen (RM180,183). The FK8 Honda Civic Type R – again, bigger and more powerful – goes for 4.5 million yen (RM177,801).

It’s the same story in the UK, where the base GR Yaris starts from £29,995 (RM162,641), rising to £33,495 (RM181,619) for the GR Yaris Circuit Pack. The outgoing Mk7.5 Volkswagen Golf GTI is priced around £33k and the Civic Type R starts from £32k. The top Hyundai i30 N goes for £29k. In the B-segment hot hatch arena, fellow three-door Ford Fiesta ST starts at nearly £10,000 less, although it has less performance and kit than the Toyota.

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But the GR Yaris – revealed at the Tokyo Auto Salon in January – is a very special car, more so in today’s auto landscape. Toyota didn’t have to make it, and in most other companies where the boss isn’t a petrolhead, a car like this would have been deemed a waste of money and resources.

You see, the latest European Yaris is five-door-only because of market demand, and Toyota created this bespoke three-door body just so that they can have a better base for their 2021 Yaris WRC challenger. The GR Yaris’ reason to exist is the World Rally Championship, like that famous Castrol-liveried Celica GT-Four homologation special you played in Sega Rally. Or the Lancer Evo and WRX STI of yesteryear.

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. In contrast, all the above C-segment hot hatches are tarted up versions of their Tesco/Aldi special stage siblings.

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Under the hood is a turbocharged G16E-GTS 1.6 litre three-cylinder engine pushing out 272 PS and 370 Nm of torque, astounding figures for a three-pot motor. Hooked up to what’s said to be the lightest and most powerful production 1.6L engine around is a six-speed manual gearbox.

The Euro-spec car “makes do” with 261 PS and 360 Nm, possibly because of emissions tuning. Gazoo Racing claims a 0-100 km/h time of under 5.5 seconds and top speed capped at 230 km/h. There will be a single high-spec grade, but customers will be able choose from Circuit and Convenience option packs. The former is for “focused, high-speed driving” while the latter is for “more comfort-oriented road performance”.

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). MacPherson struts suspend the front end while the standard Yaris’ rear torsion beam has been swapped for double wishbones. No active damping in the interest of weight.

Speaking of weight, the GR Yaris weighs just 1,280 kg. Besides the three-pot engine and CFRP roof, the doors and hood are from aluminium. There’s no centre diff for the same reason. Quite some car, this.