The day was sunny and the track was dry; perfect conditions for what UMW Toyota had in stored for us that day. The itinerary was split into three that day; three test drives involving two cars – the GR Yaris and the new Vios GRS – on the Sepang International Circuit.

Sold out almost immediately after it was launched, there’s much to be jealous of when you see one of the 130-odd units allocated for Malaysia. After just three laps in the hot hatch around the 5.5 km circuit, it was enough for us to conclude that it’s truly something special – it’s every bit a rally car for the road.

It was engaging, it was lively and the sense of connection you get with the car just keeps you on your feet. Plenty of traction it may have, but it’s also eager to go sideways with the slightest misbehaving.

And that sound; whoever thought a 3-cylinder could sound so good, howling at the top of its voice. We didn’t manage to hit 6th gear but the shifts on the manual gearbox were short and clunky – every gearshift felt like the perfect handshake.

The Vios GRS on the other hand, was a completely different experience. It did not have the muscle of the GR Yaris, nor did it have the all-wheel drive traction of the hot hatch but it’s possibly the best handling, factory Vios to date.

The most interesting addition to the car had to be the CVT gearbox with 10 virtual ratios. You can just hear the “gears shift” prominently, especially on the long straight, as if it was Volkswagen’s DSG dual-clutch gearbox.

To sum up, it’s a CVT gearbox with the sensations of an automatic gearbox but the benefits of a CVT gearbox. Now you must be wondering, does it really sound like a DSG? Watch the video and be the judge.


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Regularly spend countless hours online looking at cars and parts I can't afford to buy. How a car makes you feel behind the wheel should be more important than the brand it represents - unless resale value is your thing.