On paper, both the Toyota GR Yaris and the Honda Civic Type R are hot hatches of a similar price, at least in the UK, but the difference in size and powertrains make this comparison more of a conversation topic than anything else.
Perhaps choosing the much more expensive and exclusive Limited Edition of the Civic Type R for this comparison with the special Yaris isn’t the appropriate pick; that would be the base Type R, which starts from £32,820 in the UK and is pretty close to the £33,495 GR Yaris fitted with the desirable Circuit Pack.
The Civic Type R has managed to set the standard when it comes to front-driven hot hatches, as it’s devastatingly fast on the track and manages to communicate with its driver in a clear way even during daily driving. It offers a level of sharpness and focus you usually find in sports cars like the Porsche 911 GT3 – and that’s perhaps the highest of praises.
The GR Yaris, on the other hand, comes from a different world, even if it’s still a hot hatch. The three-door body, with the lower center of gravity, increased rigidity and wider tracks, was purpose-built to homologate a WRC rally car (which unfortunately will never race), while the three-cylinder 1.6-liter engine was chosen to homologate the R5 rally car.
It also features Toyota’s first original all-wheel-drive system in 20 years, and one that’s actually sending most of its torque to the rear in Sport mode. What the GR Yaris lacks compared to the Civic Type R in outright sharpness, it compensates with its exceptional balance and grip when you start driving it harder.
In the end, picking between the two is always a matter of personal preference, but the GR Yaris feels the more special of the two.