Malaysians love “sport”. We can tell from the many souped up regular cars on the road, whether DIY or optioned at the showroom. The carmakers know this as well, and have been profiting from it while fulfilling demand. Our penchant for all things sporty has even influenced local design – see the deeply cut and sharp bumpers of the Perodua Bezza for instance.

Most of the time, it’s just aesthetics, but this Toyota Vios GR-S is rather comprehensive for a sporty variant. Sure, there are “fierce” looks, but our market’s first GR Sport car sees changes to the powertrain and chassis as well, plus some interior enhancements that can’t be done at Brothers. Locally developed by UMW Toyota Motor (UMWT), it tops the Vios range at RM95,294 on-the-road without insurance (without sales tax).

Based on the 2021 Vios facelift that was launched yesterday night, the Vios GR-S’ headlining feature is a “10-speed CVT”. Not the same thing as a 10-speed automatic, Toyota has programmed the stepless automatic gearbox to have 10 virtual ratios in its manual mode. That’s three speeds more than the seven in the regular car, and there are steering paddle shifters for you to DIY.

Toyota says that the 10-speed configuration improves response by keeping the 1.5L NR Dual VVT-i engine (unchanged at 107 PS/140 Nm) in a higher RPM range. Now that may sound a bit gimmicky (there are “10-speed” logos on the side skirts!) but GR ambassador and two-time Vios Challenge champion Tengku Djan Ley says the feature is useful in spirited driving.

“It’s a car with a lot of character, it’s a lot more engaging, and has better steering feedback. The availability of a 10-speed CVT transmission may sound too much, but for a 1.5 litre, it allows the car to be driven at the optimum power band and keeps it spirited throughout the RPM,” the pro drifter said.

CVT aside, the GR-badged Vios also comes with sports suspension tuned “for both increased handling and confidence in high speed as well as comfort”. It rides on 17-inch multi-spoke wheels, the largest ever fitted to a Vios from the factory. The black wheels are paired with 205/45 Toyo Proxes TR1 performance tyres, which sport an aggressive asymmetric tread pattern.

Previous sporty Vios variants that went beyond an aerokit included the 2017 Vios Sports Edition and the TRD Sportivo with optional sports suspension from the “Dugong” generation.

As for the looks, there’s no mistaking the GR-S as a regular Vios. The significantly more aggressive exterior is fronted by a bumper that’s “reminiscent of the GR Yaris“. That’s in reference to the “side vents”, but the mouth also gets a honeycomb mesh instead of horizontal slats on the regular car. Side skirts with the above-mentioned “10-speed” badges adorn the sides.

At the back, the rear bumper has a much larger black section and an integrated diffuser. That’s matched with a boot spoiler in black. Also in black are the wing mirror caps and door handles (instead of chrome). Gazoo Racing emblems can be found on the boot and front wings. Only two colours are available: Platinum White Pearl and Red Mica Metallic.

The sport treatment goes deeper than expected in the cabin as well. The most prominent items are the sports seats, which are in a leather and suede combo, with red stitching. Leather and red threads also appear on the steering wheel (with shift paddles) and gear knob. GR logos can be found on the front seat headrests, push start button and floor mats.

Another sporty touch is the red Optitron meter panel with red needles. This scheme replaces the blue-white theme in other Vios variants. As a bonus, the 4.2-inch multi-info display has GR animation. As for the rest of the equipment list, the GR Sport builds on the 1.5G, the highest non-GR grade priced at RM87,584 on-the-road before insurance, with the 2020 sales tax exemption.

Once again, the Toyota Vios GR-S is priced at RM95,294 on-the-road without insurance, without sales tax. It’s available exclusively at GR Garage outlets and Toyota dealers participating in the Vios Challenge. The official pics from yesterday didn’t show much of the details, so go on and browse our usual all-round, in-and-out gallery below for a closer look. What do you think?

GALLERY: 2021 Toyota Vios GR-S

GALLERY: 2021 Toyota Vios GR-S official images