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ROAD TEST The new Toyota GR Yaris is brilliantly bonkers

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The GR Yaris is a stunning rally car for Irish roads

The GR Yaris is a stunning rally car for Irish roads

The GR Yaris is WRC-ready while being designed for the roads

The GR Yaris is WRC-ready while being designed for the roads

The Toyota GR Yaris is a 3-door pocket rocket

The Toyota GR Yaris is a 3-door pocket rocket

The GR Yaris comes with a sporty interior

The GR Yaris comes with a sporty interior

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The GR Yaris is a stunning rally car for Irish roads

Did I spend a week recently driving a €54k Toyota Yaris with approximately260bhp under the bonnet? Yes I did.

Did I spend most of that week with the car in ‘Track’ mode(even though I was 35km from the nearest race circuit) just because I could?You bet ya.

Did I repeatedly get photographed and quizzed on my test car by petrol heads? Sure did.

Would I ever consider buying one of these myself? Not in a million years.

Would I recommend buying one of these? It depends hugely on who is asking the question.

Did I spend more time in the cockpit hooking the GR effect up to my veins? No regrets.

Did I have one of the most fun weeks of my motor journalist career? Absolutely.

Daft. Excessive. Over the top. Silly. No matter how you initially describe the Toyota Yaris GR the second adjective you will be forced to use is ‘fun’.

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The Toyota GR Yaris is a 3-door pocket rocket

The Toyota GR Yaris is a 3-door pocket rocket

The Toyota GR Yaris is a 3-door pocket rocket

What Toyota have done here is they have had the bare-faced cheek to create a World Rally Championship-ready car while at the same time making it road worthy. That means that the Yaris you thought you knew (prices start from around €19,480) is nothing like the Yaris you see here on this page(a spicy €54,345).

A regular Yaris has to compete with the likes of a Fiesta, a Polo or Skoda Fabia. The GR Yaris however scoffs and growls at such cars and can only be compared to the likes of the Honda Type R or possibly a Focus ST. Not to mention the Evos and Imprezas of the world.

Anyone who I took for a spin in it during the week got the shock of their lives. Despite its size it is a sleeping giant of car. To the untrained eye you could be forgiven for thinking it is just a fancy Yaris. But it isn’t; far from it.

It has a 1.6litre turbo charged three cylinder engine that propels the 1280kg car at incredible speed when you want it to. It is a masochist. It wants to sit on 6000+ rpm for as long as you are willing to let it before flicking it up a gear. It has to be manual. It can only be manual. It wants the driver to decide when to change gear and now some fancy scaredy-cat automatic transmission.

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The GR Yaris comes with a sporty interior

The GR Yaris comes with a sporty interior

The GR Yaris comes with a sporty interior

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You are sunken in beautifully-branded sporty bucket seats that don’t squeeze your love handles but certainly let you know that this is no ordinary car from the moment you step inside.

It is a party for the senses. The sound of the engine roaring through the gears when you floor it can only be beaten by the lucky few who were standing outside the car when I put the foot down. The exhaust is like an attention seeking toddler with no sense of decorum.

You can (and I did) try and tip toe along to avoid glaring looks but it is very hard. This Pearl Ice White pocket rocket was designed to be seen and appreciated from the outside as well as the inside.

There are times when you are in ‘track’ mode and you are about to change gear when the roar vibrates through the car. As far lesser cars disappear in the rear view mirror you are thrust back into your seat with G-Force that I have never experienced before. Couple that with the sound and the feel of the steering wheel between your tensed hands and you are in automotive heaven.

Now, for context, I need you to know that I am not a boy racer. Far from it. I’m more Lewis Capaldi than Lewis Hamilton. But as the days went by and my confidence grew I found myself just wanting to be in this car more and more.

The eagle-eyed car nuts among you may have noticed that the GR is a 3-door car, whereas the standard Yaris always has five doors. That's because, like everything else to do with this car, the mechanical spec was laid down by Toyota's World Rally Championship team.

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The GR Yaris is WRC-ready while being designed for the roads

The GR Yaris is WRC-ready while being designed for the roads

The GR Yaris is WRC-ready while being designed for the roads

There is a sloping roofline (91mm shorter than the standard version) is intentional for aerodynamics while the lightweight aluminium is used for a majority of the chassis while the roof is actual carbon fibre. There are almost-obnoxious bulging wheel arches, a large rear wing and a gaping front air intake.

My test vehicle for the week came with the ‘Luxury Pack’ which will set you back an extra €3,710 which includes navigation, a JBL stereo, head-up display, blind-spot monitor, front and rear parking sensors and rear cross traffic alert. In truth, and I know this sounds mad, but I would rather opt for the ‘Circuit Pack’ which costs €6,675 because it will give you forged 18-inch alloys, tweaked suspension and a limited slip differential and edgier Michelin Pilot Sport tyres, rather than the road-focused Dunlop Sport Maxx boots of our test car.

Maybe I am turning into a boy racer after all! The GR can do that to a man.

You could, technically, live with this car as your runaround. It has four seats, a boot and a lot of tech and safety features. But it is an insane amount of money for a 3-door hot hatch. It drives beautifully, corners perfectly and you actually sit a little higher off the tarmac than you would expect.

It made light work of my urban driving for the week and was a hot topic on the school run. But it wants nothing more than to be opened upon a motorway or a race track. The latter eluded me on my test week but I imagine it would be a lot of fun to those who have it in them to invest in this utterly unique, utterly bonkers and utterly special car.

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