It turns out there is a way you can take the universally-beloved GR Yaris and make it sort of worse. Toyota will experiment with some of these methods in Japan with its new GR Yaris Morizo Selection trim that will regularly optimize “basic vehicle performance in terms of driving, turning and stopping” through software updates.
That all sounds great, until you consider that the Morizo Selection will only be offered through Toyota’s Kinto car subscription service. The car will cost 54,340 yen per month — or about $497 — with a three-year contract. To be honest, I’m not sure how this subscription scheme differs from what would traditionally be called a lease, although in Kinto’s case it does notably include insurance. There’s nothing said about an option to purchase at the end of the term, though.
Beginning in spring 2022, those who subscribe to a GR Yaris Morizo Selection will begin getting those updates, which will ostensibly improve vehicle performance. I’m a bit skeptical as to how significantly these patches will enhance the car, though you’d hope the effect would be noticeable. Without the updates, the whole special edition seems pretty pointless. Customers will have to take their cars to a GR-authorized garage so most of the updates can be installed, which could end up being a gigantic drag if they’re issued “timely,” as Toyota says they will be.
Otherwise, the Morizo Selection is pretty much the RZ High Performance trim of the GR Yaris Toyota does allow you to buy normally, with some extra bells and whistles. The “seat stitching, coil springs, and shock absorbers” feature a yellow-and-blue color scheme just like Super Taikyu team Rookie Racing’s cars do, and there is a Morizo emblem on the windshield.
In case you’re curious what Morizo means, it’s actually the alter-ego for Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda when he goes racing. Seriously. This isn’t news, but it’s still kind of amazing to read the official Morizo origin story. It’s like he fancies himself one of the Avengers or something. Here’s an excerpt:
Because of his insistence to participate in life-threatening racing activities, Akio received harsh criticism, both from within and outside the company. People were saying things like “Doesn’t he know how dangerous that is?”, “Doesn’t he know that this is inappropriate for someone in his position?,” and even “Isn’t this just his personal hobby?” To make himself less conspicuous and susceptible to criticism, Akio took on the name “Morizo”. He started using the moniker publicly from the 2007 Nürburgring 24-hour endurance race, when he was vice president. However, nowadays, the name is hardly a secret; the number of people who know and support his motorsport participation has grown, both inside and outside the company. The use of “Morizo” now has a new role. It lowers the barrier, allowing Akio to express his true feelings as a “car lover” or a “car guy”, which is sometimes not easy to do when speaking as the “president” of Toyota.
I know I should roll my eyes at the idea of an executive pretending to be a superhero when he races, but there’s something that seems earnest about it. I don’t know. What I do know is that locking the best version of the GR Yaris behind what is ostensibly a three-year lease seems like a bit of a gut punch. Alas, it makes no difference to us — it’s not like we have the privilege of buying or leasing the car on this side of the pond anyway.