What will happen
The GR Yaris will revive the hot hatch market
Its arrival was a metaphorical shot in the arm late in the tyre fire that was 2020 and was upstaged only by the literal shot in the arm promised by the impending arrival of Covid-19 vaccines.
We don’t hand out five-star scores for first drives often, but the Toyota GR Yaris is fully deserving of every word of praise heaped upon it. And we’re sure the expectations of the many eager buyers who have already reserved one will be fully met when they take delivery next year. Which is pretty remarkable, really. Who could have anticipated such excitement from a car carrying the Yaris nameplate?
Actually, some of the joy of the GR Yaris is that it has come from such a humble place. Toyota is a mass-market manufacturer and the Yaris is largely a straight, sensible hybrid hatchback. With the car world shifting its focus to electrified models and practical mobility solutions, it’s almost surreal that Toyota has lavished resources on a rally-derived, petrol-engined hot hatch.
Our belief – with a little bit of hope – is that Toyota’s efforts will pay off and the GR Yaris will be a huge hit that can join the likes of the Honda Civic Type R and Volkswagen Golf R as high-performance mass-market masterpieces. Ford’s decision not to develop a new Focus RS raised concerns about the prospects of the top-end hot hatch (although the Focus ST is spectacular). The GR Yaris will hopefully prove that the future is still bright.
Firms will start paring back their model ranges
Industry giant turned corporate fugitive Carlos Ghosn recently said that the impact of the pandemic will accelerate industry consolidation through 2021 (and beyond). He’s probably right. As the need to cut costs becomes ever more acute, we could see more high-profile mergers such as FCA’s and PSA’s Stellantis.
However, we reckon car ranges will shrink further, too, as the cost and complexity of vast numbers of engines and trim levels bite. Diesel’s decreasing demand has already caused many models to go petrol only and the need to cut fleet CO2 emissions will also result in some thirsty engine options falling by the wayside. At least we’ll see a glut of new electric vehicles.