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With all the enthusiasm around the 2024 GR Yaris, it’s easy to forget the exceptionally dull base version. Despite carrying the “RS” suffix that would suggest something exciting, the entry-level model is a hot hatch in name only. Toyota has yet to update the cheaper RS with the odd dashboard of the “real” GR Yaris but the car remains on sale in Japan.

Although it may look a lot like the full-fat model, the GR Yaris RS is offered strictly with front-wheel drive. It gets worse since Toyota sells this flavor only with a continuously variable transmission (CVT). As a reminder, the legitimate hot hatch is all-wheel drive with either a six-speed manual or the newly gained eight-speed automatic.

Then there’s the engine. The GR Yaris RS uses the “M15A-FKS” instead of the well-known “G16E-GTS” also installed in the GR Corolla and the one-off Lexus LBX Morizo RR. It’s a naturally aspirated 1.5-liter unit instead of a turbocharged 1.6-liter. It too is a three-cylinder mill, but with only 118 hp and 107 lb-ft (145 Nm). The revised GR Yaris is now packing a GR Corolla Morizo-matching 300 hp and 295 lb-ft (400 Nm).

While it’s all show without any extra go, the GR Yaris RS is much cheaper than its far more muscular twin brother. Toyota wants 2,650,000 yen, or nearly $18,000 at current exchange rates. The more potent GR Yaris RZ with all-wheel drive and a stick started at 4,560,000 yen (almost $31,000) before the update. Pricing for the 2024 model will be announced closer to the car’s launch this spring.

The GR Yaris RS is a rare example of upbadging straight from the factory. To the untrained eye, it looks just like the hot hatch but there are certain details betraying its true identity. For example, the speedometer only goes to 180 km/h (112 mph) whereas on the performance hatch it stops at 280 km/h (174 mph).

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