We need to talk about Toyota. In South Africa, they are ubiquitous in providing cheap and reliable transport to the masses. Whether it’s the rough and rugged Hilux conquering farmland terrain or the Quantum busses found in their designated yellow lanes, the Japanese giant has been acing cars that do the car thing. Think about an Uber XL, and you’re picturing a Toyota Avanza. An Uber X? That’s a Corolla or Etios. 

If you questioned an ordinary person about Toyota, cost effective A to B transport would come to mind and nothing else. For me, growing up after 2000, I thought very much the same thing. It wasn’t until social media and the “JDM” craze that I started associating Toyota with some cult 90s classics. There are a few to choose from too. The MR2 Turbo and Celica GT-Four are iconic. That’s not to mention the Mk4 Supra, a car I find so cool that the thought of seeing one on the roads is what gets me out of bed in the morning.


there aren’t many new cars that actually interest me

But those cars aren’t the purpose of this article. The reason behind this was that a non-car friend recently asked me what my favourite new car is. It wasn’t a weighted question, just one of those polite ways to get me to stop rambling on about limited-slip diffs, 2JZs and other concepts that had no relevance to him whatsoever. It suddenly made me realize that there aren’t many new cars that actually interest me.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s some cool stuff, but most of it remains in the “unobtainable” bracket. I had to bypass those of course. So with the GT4 RS, and T50 wiped from the list I came up with a top 5. I was surprised to find that 3 of these were Toyotas.

clinging desperately onto the petrolhead

The same brand that’s responsible for the Aygo, is clinging desperately onto the petrolhead pillar to provide us enthusiasts with three (and soon to be four) exciting sub R1 million cars. All amidst a tide of electric SUVs. And how does the community respond? With a considerable amount of hate.

Firstly, we have the GR Yaris. A four wheel drive pocket rocket with a manual gearbox, plenty of power and even more grip. Above any specification you can see on paper, there’s the fact that it’s a rally homologation special. That alone is enough to spark the imagination of people, like me, who would stay up into the early hours of the morning watching YouTube compilations titled “Rally Drivers are a Different Breed”. 

Apparently that’s not enough for some. Remarks of it being too expensive for a Toyota and being “just a Yaris” were constantly thrown into every conversation about the car. I think we should just be happy that cars like GR Yaris still exist.

Toyota Z4 jokes

Then we have the mk5 Supra. When that car was released, I remember having palpable frustration over the automotive media and their coverage of the car. All I wanted was to get an understanding of what this reincarnation of my childhood hero car was like to drive. Instead I had to wade through articles and videos of overused BMW and Z4 jokes and how similar the cars are.


I can’t speak for the whole world, but I can safely say that my friends get way more excited over seeing a Supra than most Ferraris. They have a mystique and cool factor about them that few cars in that price bracket bring. So yes, I’m partial to a Supra, but I think the existence of anything that thrills people on sight alone should be celebrated.

Finally we have the GT86 and its replacement the GR86. Who can dislike a back to basics, rear wheel drive, naturally aspirated sports car designed for driver thrill and not much else besides? Well anyone wanting power is the answer. I drove one and yes, it feels slow. Slower even than the 200hp peak output should feel. But none of that really put me off the old car. I think the rest of the package was appealing enough. And from the reviews it seems they’ve improved the lack of power for the new generation. I cannot wait to drive one.

So there we have it. Three exciting new cars from Toyota that I believe deserve more praise. They may not be perfect, but beggars can’t be choosers and as we move towards a reality of electrification and arguably more boring cars, we need to savour what is left. I think it’s time to praise the efforts of any company still willing to go out of their way to provide us petrolheads with something to enjoy.


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