Honda's top-spec Civic is impressive, but the GR Yaris is in a whole other league.
Ford might have pulled its excellent Focus ST and Fiesta ST from the US market, but the hot hatch is still very much alive and well - especially overseas, where Japan's biggest automaker has just launched the high-performance Toyota GR Yaris. That model, with its turbocharged 268-horsepower 1.6L three-cylinder and rally racing-derived AWD system, is sadly not coming to the US, but in some global markets, it squares off against something that is offered here at home: the 306-horsepower Honda Civic Type R.
But which is the quicker car: Honda's FWD compact hot hatch, or Toyota's plucky new AWD subcompact road rocket? Australia's Motor Mag recently set off to find the answer.
If you're an American hot hatch aficionado, unable to purchase the Toyota GR Yaris here at home, you might well be wondering: who cares? You should, because while the GR Yaris won't be sold in the US, Toyota's Gazoo Racing brand strongly implied last May that some other high-performance GR-branded hot hatch would be sold here. Seeing how the GR Yaris stacks up against the Civic R - one of the absolute best cars in the segment - could give you an idea of what to expect from, say, a GR Corolla hot hatch.
At the very least, seeing the two souped-up hatchbacks go head-to-head is terrific entertainment.
If Toyota's US-bound GR hot hatch is anything like the GR Yaris, we're in for a treat; the AWD pocket rocket is crazy capable, blasting to 62 mph in just 5.2 seconds in Motor Mag's testing, vs. 6.1 seconds for the Civic R. Quarter-mile testing ended similarly, the Yaris GR sprinting the distance in 13.3 seconds to the Civic's 14.1.
Of course, we wouldn't accept any of those numbers as gospel. Both cars are equipped with manual transmissions, which are more prone to inconsistency in straight-line performance, and the day the tests were conducted was a scorching 35 degrees Celsius, meaning neither car was likely making quite the power it should have.
Still, 0.8 seconds' difference in the quarter-mile is an eternity, and if you weren't already bummed about the GR Yaris not being offered in the US, well, you certainly ought to be now.