The Honda Civic Type R has been a dominating force on the roads for a few years now, its incredible limited-slip differential planting 306 horsepower into usable traction through just the front wheels. It has a new competitor in the all-wheel-drive Toyota Yaris GR, so it’s natural to ask which hot hatchback would win a track showdown.
Mat Watson from Carwow is lucky enough to live and work in Europe, where the 268-HP GR Yaris GR is now on sale. (The U.S. won’t get this new Yaris, but some sort of Toyota hot hatch is supposed to arrive here eventually.) Having the toys to play with, Mat arranged for the Yaris GR and Civic Type R to square off in a wet head-to-head quarter-mile drag race. It was a very, very close match.
The Type R comes to the line with more power and more torque as well as a standard six-speed manual transmission, and it’s only about 100 kilograms (roughly 220 pounds) heavier than the Yaris GR. But it also is strictly front-wheel drive; on a wet track like we see in the Carwow video, that is a problem against anything all-wheel drive.
The GR Yaris doesn’t necessarily have a clear advantage in this fight. It earns points for coming with a six-speed manual, yet it is only marginally lighter (the all-wheel-drive hardware weight penalty) and is down on power and torque compared with the Honda. This test comes down to the grip in the wet.
In the end, the GR Yaris won by only a smidge, with the Civic Type R quickly falling behind quickly at the start (that’s the Yaris’s all-wheel-drive system pulling it ahead). The Honda’s power advantage helps it recover to nearly catch the Toyota at the finish, but the Toyota won out. From a rolling start in the second test, the Honda’s power advantage made it the clear winner, though the Yaris was still neck and neck the entire time.
When it comes to what each car is like to live with, the Civic is slightly larger, with more interior space, and has four doors compared with two for the Yaris. The Type R is also about a grand cheaper in Europe, which could matter. Aesthetically, the Type R has been controversial for its cutthroat design, while the Yaris is undoubtedly a subtler car.
We’re supposed to get a version of the GR Yaris powertrain in some sort of hot hatchback in the U.S. in the next couple of years, but it won’t be in a Yaris. Ideally, it would have all-wheel-drive and a powertrain making similar power, if not from the same 1.6-liter three-cylinder engine then perhaps a four-cylinder. It will likely be based on the U.S.-market Toyota Corolla hatchback.