After the announcement of garden-variety Yaris pricing, I was disheartened to say the least. What this said to me was that the upcoming saviour of Japanese sports cars, the GR Yaris, would likely be too rich for my blood.
I kept my hopes up, however. See below a conversation between myself and CarAdvice frequenter Hotshot, where I expressed desire for Toyota to "knock it out of the park" in terms of pricing, and repeat what it did with the 86 launch back in 2012.
I even semi-jokingly put the thought of owning one out there into the universe, with a bunch of my friends and family receipting those words. The statement went along the lines of, "if the price indeed starts within the low 4s, I'd have to deeply consider buying one."
So, absolutely shocked, and partially mortified I was, when I read this story: $39,950 drive away. I had no excuse now.
From here, I began debating whether I should instead wait for the 'Rallye' special edition. I love buying the top-grade version of every car I decide to own, for no other reason than having the best of the best.
After all, I love cars, and in this case, it is a bespoke, carbon-roofed rally car for the road, with 172 litres of boot space, and three doors. Nothing's rational here, so why not go 110 per cent mad?
After more deliberation, I figured the price hike for the 'Rallye' version may turn the car into unobtainium for me, and that I should jump on this offer, and just be happy with the opportunity. First hurdle overcome.
Next was the fact that indeed, if I am ever to afford one, that the ticking clock was against me.
Or was it?
I pondered, "ah, the first 1000 cars get the offer. That's likely to be 18 months of volume! I have heaps of time to stew on this".
This suspicion was later confirmed directly via a paragraph within the same pricing story, too:
"While Toyota says the launch price of $39,950 drive-away is limited to the first 1000 vehicles sold, it concedes it could be 12-to-18 months before that number is reached."
Bonza. Chill out, save your pennies, maybe drive the thing beforehand, make sure your son actually fits in the back, do your homework, mate. Calm down.
Literally the next day, I was out conducting a dual-test with my colleague and all-round good guy, Jez Spinks. We'd pulled up at a service station to check tyre pressures, and grab a drink, before hitting the high country in search of some fantastic roads.
While we were there, an older, rather wise gentleman (if you're reading this, I hope you don't mind me referring to you as older!) came out of his practice next-door, for a quick chinwag.
Intrigued he was by the metal we were driving; but we struck up a good conversation, as he was clearly well-vested in cars. He knew his stuff. Mentioned he owned some twenty different iterations of turbocharged all-wheel-drive cars. It was the format he loved most, he claimed.
He then went on to excitedly say he was planning on ordering a Toyota GR Yaris, relatively out of the blue.
After smiling and engaging in deeper conversation as to why he wants one, I began to wonder – if a random punter out of left-field claims he's buying one, maybe I've misjudged this.
Maybe people are going to be buying them? Surely that 1000 won't sell out that quickly? After all, it is a tiny, three-door, manual-only city car.
My anxiety got the better of me and I called around. To be exact, I called three metro Sydney dealers. Literally every dealer I spoke with had more than five deposits. One had taken a total of 15 deposits, and this was still days out from the 'official' order books opening.
Maybe I had called this all wrong. I then dusted off my product-planning hat, put it back on, and began thinking like a car company. A likely approach would be to order a handful of cars in the first month or two of production, see how the pre-order thing goes, and then ramp things up if demand begins to outstrips supply.
As stock pipelines are usually set months ahead of time, this decision would've likely been made with little to no market barometre to refer to.
As they always say, it's better to have a supply issue than a lack of demand. That rings true even more so when we're talking about expensive pieces of metal, which can quickly amass to become an expensive, aged-stock problem.
That was enough for me, I had to pull the pin.
Next step was trying to understand the process. Do I order online and battle against the influx of traffic, and a website that may overload and 'timeout' as a consequence? And miss out all together? Or do I speak to a dealer and secure a car there and then?
I took the latter path. A member of my family works with a Toyota dealership, so that seemed like the best way to go. Ironically, after a few calls to independent sources, the recommendation I got was in fact, the same dealership that my family member works with.
Funny, that. The world works in strange ways, and so the car was ordered via Chatswood Toyota. As of Wednesday the 23rd of September, it was accepted, an order number given, and I am to now wait for more details in the coming weeks.
I'm glad I took the plunge too, as within the first day, 560 of the 1000 launch cars had been ordered in total. In fact, a quarter of the volume that Toyota initially conceded to likely last 12-18 months, sold in just 30 minutes.
As for the spec, the vehicle is a GR Yaris 'base', or 'RZ', as it's referred to in the motherland. As for colour, I opted for none other than '040 - Super White II'
'Super white II' and I go way back.
My old ST165 Celica GT-Four? Finished in 040. My old EP71 Starlet Turbo S? Finished in 040. Both of my Supra JZA80s? 040. EP82 Starlet GT? 040. Toyota AE101 Levin? 040.
You get the point. Plus, ironically speaking, nothing else says basic Toyota whitegoods to the greater masses than flat, fridge white. It's simple.
It's also everything that this car is not.
The GR Yaris signifies Toyota flipping the script. Instead of taking the road-car racing, they've made the race-car roadworthy. To loosely translate and quote "CEO Master Driver" Akio Toyoda, as he's referred to in the Japanese Yaris GR dealership material: "From the beginning we have built commercial cars and remodeled them for racing. This time it is different... It was created with a completely reversed idea".
That alone, excites me. I've owned, and driven, some of Toyota's finest road cars. Examples of models which also had stellar motorsport careers, too. After sampling that back catalogue over the years, I have a sneaking suspicion the GR Yaris will be a pretty handy thing to drive.
However, that doesn't automatically mean it'll suit my taste. In actual fact, it means nothing.
Time will tell. I've taken an educated leap of faith, in ways.
The brand has gone as far as to re-think its production line, and develop new techniques that are unique to the GR Yaris. I quite like the part where Toyota explains that the three-cylinder 'G16E-GTS' engine is prepared in a manner that is suitable for "racing use".
Toyota goes on to say it knows most examples will likely be driven hard, and that because of this, the need for a new engine assembly methodology that greatly mitigates foreign particle ingress, was critical. That technique is known to go a long way in promoting engine longevity.
At every point it's referred to as a "racing car", and not a road car. I won't go on about the bespoke chassis, unique double A-arm independent rear end, lowered roofline, and all of the other wonderful things that legitimise this car as something we've never seen before.
Dotty or not, it has excited me. This car is, for once, something truly special – that I can also afford. I can't recall anything else that's ticked both of those boxes.
I now need to figure out how it'll slot into my current situation. A three-door Yaris doesn't make for a good family car; but I believe it can work, if I strip things back down to basics. Many people live in tiny homes just fine. I'm sure we will manage with a tiny car.
Either way, we're going to find out, as I plan to document the build, and discover whether a family can really live with a GR Yaris, right here on CarAdvice.