Toyota GR Yaris
Developed from world rally racing, with up to 200kw from a three-cylinder turbo engine
The world changed the way they looked at hot hatches when Toyota unveiled its Yaris GRMN back in 2017. It was a limited-edition rally-bred, Nurburgring-tuned hot hatch for the street that featured a supercharged 1.8-litre motor packing 156kw and 250nm. Under the skin, it was a track-honed machine, but on the exterior, bar for some graphics, some aero tweaks, and lightweight wheels; it was hardly pin-up quality.
Toyota took the lessons it learned from the Yaris GRMN and went to work with creating another GR-infused model called the GR Yaris. Oddly, this is positioned to sit below the GRMN, despite looking like it has just drifted straight off a dirt road on a rally stage.
The all-wheel-drive GR Yaris is tiny! Which is why it’s turbocharged 1.6-litre 3-cylinder engine is more than adequate to rocket the 1,280kg hot hatch, from 0-100kph in 5.5 seconds and onto an electronically-limited top speed of 230kph. It packs plenty of punch too, with the Euro-version producing 192kw and 360nm, whilst its JDM counterpart hits back with 200kw and 370nm.
All that power is transferred to both axles (there are two Torsen limited-slip differentials) through a six-speed manual transmission. And in typical rally car fashion, drivers can toggle between three driver modes, which alter the default front and rear torque split of the AWD system – 60:40 in Normal, 30:70 in Sport and 50:50 in Track.
Despite measuring in at less than 4 metres long, the 3-door GR Yaris stands 1.8 metres wide. It’s easy to spot the wider track, bigger intakes, massive wheel arches, and bespoke spoilers, all of which are constructed using carbon-fibre polymer and aluminium. Compared to the regular Yaris, the GR Yaris’ roofline has been lowered by 91 millimeters to create a coupe-like silhouette, and there are frameless doors too.
It features Macpherson struts up front and a double-wishbone suspension setup at the rear. It gets ventilated discs at the front and rear, measuring 356mm and 297mm respectively; which are in turn gripped by four-piston calipers up front and twin-pistons at the rear. Grip comes courtesy of sticky Dunlop SP Sport Maxx050 rubber which wraps around lightweight 18-inch alloy wheels.
According to Toyota SA, the GR Yaris is expected to debut in South Africa in early 2021. Pricing has yet to be disclosed, but in other markets, it is priced similarly to the Volkswagen Golf R which currently retails for R708 900 in South Africa.
Make no mistake about it; the GR Yaris is a truly special car, and Toyota has answered the prayers of petrol heads around the world to build a real WRC-inspired machine. Not only is it special in its execution, but it is too, in its production. To showcase this, Toyota released this short video showcasing the GR Yaris’ assembly at their new Motomachi factory.