Car Reviews Motoring

Toyota GR Yaris

Written by Tim Barnes-Clay

The GR Yaris is a road-going sports car developed directly from Toyota’s championship winning World Rally experience.

Professional rally drivers, including members of Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team, drove the prototype GR Yaris and provided valuable feedback.

Has that got your attention then, guys? Yes, this is no regular Yaris. The GR Yaris is built on a unique platform, combining Toyota’s new GA-B platform (which debuted on the new generation Yaris hatchback) and a rear section adapted from the GA-C platform used for the Corolla and C-HR models.

The rally team emphasised the importance of light weight and this is reflected in the use of aluminium body panels and a forged carbon composite roof in the body structure, and scrutiny of how weight could be reduced in parts
throughout the car.

For the best possible aerodynamic performance, the body itself is another unique element: although based on the new Yaris hatchback, it is a three rather than five-door model, with a lower, tapering roof line. This has been designed specifically to direct wind flow onto the large rear rally-type spoiler to generate extra downforce. As with a competition car, the shaping of the lower body efficiently channels airflow down the sides of the vehicle.

The engine is also all-new, a 1.6-litre, three-cylinder turbocharged unit. It is the world’s most powerful three-cylinder engine and also the smallest and lightest 1.6 turbo. Producing 257bhp and 360 Nm of torque, it complies with WRC2 technical regulations and can launch the GR Yaris from rest to 62mph in just 5.5 seconds, and on to an electronically limited top speed of 143mph. Can you imagine doing the school run in this car? Hell, you’d be the most popular dad out there if you did if for real.

Engine power is harnessed through Toyota’s new GR-Four permanent, electronically controlled all-wheel drive system. Another competition-inspired feature, this provides three driving modes with different front/rear drive torque to suit the conditions – Normal, Track and Sport.

The principal change is, as already mentioned, the move from a five-door to a three-door body. The GR Yaris is the only model in the new Yaris range to use this format, appropriate for WRC competition where the regulations stipulate no changes may be made or aerodynamic elements added to the doors.

Inside, the design of the GR Yaris reflects the car’s performance, particularly around the cockpit. The binnacle has the same binocular arrangement as the standard Yaris but with additional functions related to the car’s specific performance qualities. The 4.2-inch TFT colour multi-information display adds an all-wheel drive indicator showing the torque distribution and mode selected for the GR-Four system and a turbo pressure monitor. The analogue meters
have white figures with red pointers for high, at-a-glance visibility.

The gear lever has a high position on the centre console, raised by 50mm and set close to the steering wheel, helping you make quick shifts. The action is light with short shift strokes, adding to the performance quality. The steering gives you a sense of connection to the car, and to the road. Indeed, performance is quick and brisk, appropriate for a sports car.

Furthermore, the driver’s seat has a generous range of height, fore-aft and seatback angle manual adjustment. And to make rear seat access easier in the three-door GR Yaris, the front seats have an increased forward tipping angle. The two rear seatbacks have a 60:40 split-folding function and are equipped with Isofix child seat anchor points with top tethers. See, dads, there’s no getting away from the school or nursery run in this car!

Even better, the luggage compartment has a 174-litre capacity, but with the rear seatbacks folded, there is enough space to carry a set of four large tyres or a bicycle. So that’s enough room for the kids’ school stuff, guys. Yep, the GR Yaris’s natural home might well be the track, but it’ll be equally at home in suburbia doing family stuff. And that includes being “Dad Taxi” from time to time!

For more information on the awesome Toyota GR Yaris, click here.

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