Toyota GR Yaris review


What is?

A Toyota hot hatch, if you want to vastly underestimate it. Because it’s actually much more meaningful and exciting than that. And it’s definitely not a Yaris as you know it. Here’s the score: The regulations that govern top level rallying dictate that your car must be based on an existing road car. This is called homologation and although your rally car can deviate from the road formula in many areas, it cannot in some key areas.

In the past, companies were able to get around this problem because regulations didn’t insist on too many street versions. Sometimes a few hundred, sometimes less. Companies could handle that, finding an audience for a limited number of promotions. But the latest regulations say that 25,000 street cars must be manufactured. Oh. So everyone ships their standard city car, fingers crossed, and hopes for the best. Because you can’t compromise rear headroom on Aunt Mabel’s happy shopper, because some fast Finns want a better aero package. The two are too far apart. So build something from scratch? Not only do you have to find housing for 25,000 of them, but also think about the necessary investment. So no one ever does that. Look at all the years Peugeot, VW and Citroën have dominated the WRC and the best we got was a C4 ‘By Loeb’ edition.

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Until now?

Until now. Because what Toyota did was design a rally car from scratch. Okay, it’s always a compromise, but the compromise here isn’t happy buyer meets WRC, it’s compact car meets WRC. And when your starting point is a hot hatch, you’re already pitching the car to an audience that’s willing to commit.

So how much is shared with the standard Yaris?

Let’s take the roof line as an example. It’s high on the standard Yaris so people can sit in the back, but the rally car wants it as low as possible so it doesn’t block air from the rear wing. Tommi Makinen, Toyota’s WRC boss, apparently wanted it even lower, but Toyota insisted the rear seats be kept. Similarly, WRC regulations state that aerodynamic devices cannot be fitted to the rear doors. Thus, the GR Yaris simply removes the rear doors. The roof is made from carbon fibre, saving 3.5kg, the door covers, bonnet and tailgate are made from aluminium, saving an additional 24kg. It’s not even a Yaris chassis underneath. The front half is, but the rear is adapted from the Corolla and CH-R. There are 4,175 weld points, 259 more than a Yaris, plus 35.4 meters of “structural adhesive”. The rigidity of a safe, in other words.

It has the 2560mm wheelbase, headlight clusters, exterior mirrors and roof spoiler from the Yaris. But it’s all. It’s 55mm longer, 60mm wider and 45mm lower (actually closer to 100mm lower at the rear). Under the hood is the world’s most powerful production triple, a 1.6-liter with 257 hp and 266 lb-ft. Its single turbo spins on ball bearings, while the motor itself is hydraulically mounted to the side to reduce vibration and unwanted movement. The kind of technology that top supercar companies like to talk about.

There are no paddles here. The only option is a six-speed manual, and the 4WD system is said to be the lightest on the market. The lightest, but not the most basic. There’s an aluminum center transfer case, and in Normal mode, torque is split 60/40 front to rear. This changes depending on the mode you choose. Sport is 30:70 and Track is 50:50. Skate or grip, you decide. At the rear is an electronically controlled clutch pack to distribute torque between the wheels.

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You can also tick the £3,500 Circuit Package box. Along with lightweight 18-inch BBS forged alloys, retuned suspension, Michelin Pilot 4S tires, and red brake calipers, you get Torsen mechanical diffs front and rear. Same split-torque control, but more guts and guts in the system. More rally. Too? Get the standard and add the Convenience Pack (premium JBL sound system, ambient lighting, head-up display and more) for £2,180. It’s one thing or the other, you can’t have both packs.

It sounds very fast.

The whole thing weighs 1,280kg, is good for 0-62mph in 5.5 seconds and a top end of 143mph. In other words, it is small, light and fast, avoiding the typical tendency to gain size and weight. Good.

Toyota had aimed to sell 750 when it launched in the UK in 2020 and raised that target to 1,000 by 2021. Prices start at £30,020 and, as you can read in the Owner section, rental contracts are very tempting.

It’s a genuinely exciting car, a compact car with a real purpose in life. After all, when was the last time we had a proper rally homologation stage, something we can all aspire to? Not since the Impreza and Evo of the 90s. This, then, is a once in a generation special. And the best news of all is that Toyota knocked it out of the park.

Our choice of the range.

1.6 all-wheel drive 3-door [Circuit Pack]

What’s the verdict?

The GR Yaris is excellent – the best Toyota we’ve ever driven

Two things stand out. That Toyota created this car and they did an amazing job. Cars like the GR Yaris just don’t exist these days, where everyone uses countless body styles, often across multiple brands, on one platform. Toyota has been as guilty of this as anyone – look at the BMW-based Supra.

This is Toyota’s response. And it’s magnificent. It proves what we’ve long suspected: that a Pukka rally car is the best thing to take on a modern B-road: small and light, with punchy dynamics and a fearless engine, it’s a profoundly compelling machine. . And if the WRC version is so well designed and executed, Toyota’s rivals should be downright terrified.

It doesn’t have the pedigree of the Civic Type R, but its beefier approach is arguably better at delivering driver entertainment on any road, in any weather. It’s a joy to drive from start to finish, the playfulness of the Ford Fiesta ST combined with the kind of composure and enthusiasm that Subaru Imprezas did so well. And for performance and experience, it’s not expensive at all. Best Toyota we’ve ever driven.

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