Estoril, Portugal - Toyota’s new Yaris GR is a car that we’re rather excited about and no doubt you are too.

And right now we are feeling more than just a little envious of Fernando Alonso, who recently got to put the potent little all-wheel-drive hatchback through its paces around an unnervingly wet Estoril race circuit in Portugal.

While we’re expecting the Yaris GR to be a hard-core hatch, Fernando’s first comment was that it’s actually the perfect combination of sportiness and comfort. 

“It’s a very sporty car you can drive every day exceeding your expectations in every gear change, in every braking point in every corner, you know it’s a little bit better than you expect," Alonso said.

“Not only the power and the stability, but for me also the brakes, it was a really nice surprise, it is only the first few laps but it is exciting!”

Of course, the Yaris GR is no ordinary ‘hot hatch’ of the kind you’d expect to rival the Polo GTI.

For starters, it has all-wheel-drive, as well as a brand new 1.6-litre three-cylinder turbopetrol engine, rated at 192kW and 360Nm, and paired with a six-speed manual gearbox.

This, for all intents and purposes, is a rally car for the road, so there’s no surprise that the Gazoo Racing developed hatch serves as a homologation model for the next Yaris WRC car.

The racing division also employed numerous weight saving measures, including aluminium body panels, to keep the weight down to just 1280kg. Thanks to that, the GR can sprint from 0-100km/h in a claimed 5.5 seconds.

At this stage the Yaris GR has yet to be confirmed for the South African market, but we have heard that TSA really wants to bring it here.

IOL Motoring