Toyota has unveiled its brand-new GR Yaris, which is a hatchback for the everyday consumer, but injected with the DNA of a rally car. It might seem like a strange combination, but it’s here and it’s looking good.
The GR Yaris is a unique model that benefits from the design and engineering skills of Toyota Gazoo Racing and Tommi Mäkinen Racing, Toyota’s partner in the WRC. As well as serving as the official homologation model for development of the next Yaris WRC car, it also has all the attributes required for owners looking to compete successfully in local rally competitions or track-day activities. It represents Toyota’s second global GR model, following the GR Supra.
Every aspect of the car has a performance focus: an all-new platform and engine, new suspension, lightweight construction, aerodynamic styling and a new GR-Four permanent all-wheel drive system.
With high power and low weight, it has all the credentials for competition success, and for delivering exhilarating performance as a super-hot hatch for the road.
The WRC-skilled team of designers and engineers at Tommi Mäkinen Racing focused on perfecting the aerodynamics, weight distribution and light weight of the new car – the three qualities essential to achieving the best performance and drivability.
A lower roofline improved the car’s ability to cut through the air, while positioning the new 1.6 turbo engine further back towards the centre of the car and locating the battery in the boot helped produce a better chassis balance for improved handling, stability and responsiveness.
The three-door body shell is made from lightweight materials including carbon fibre polymer and aluminium, to deliver an impressive power-to-weight ratio, while the new platform allows for a wider rear track and new double-wishbone rear suspension system. The team also devised reinforcements beneath the side members to ensure the suspension’s performance potential can be realised.
To ensure the plans worked in practice, the GR Yaris was put to the test by professional race and rally drivers during the development programme.
Although the GR Yaris is based on the new European Yaris model, it has a unique design with a three-door body and a roof lowered by 91mm – creating a coupe silhouette. Frameless doors add to the coupe look, while improving aerodynamic performance and reducing weight.
At the front, the grille design and spoiler express the car’s authentic GR status featuring the signature GR “functional matrix” design. Cooling air is fed to the radiator, intercooler and engine compartment through a large, rectangular lower grille with a wide honeycomb mesh inset. The grille is flanked by large vertical inlets for the brake duct and intercooler, with circular LED fog lights positioned at the far edges of the bumper.
The prominent lower spoiler has a downforce-generating shape, with a raised centre section that controls the flow of air beneath the vehicle. At the rear, the tapering of the roof and rear pillars and the addition of the deep, high-mounted spoiler, enhance downforce and aerodynamic performance. The wide track and flaring of the rear wings emphasise the car’s wide and low silhouette.
GR badging is featured on the lower grille, the front fenders and back door.
Four paint finishes that match Toyota Gazoo Racing’s competition colours are available to choose from: Glacier White, Platinum White Pearl, Emotional Red and Lunar Black.
The interior reflects a driver-oriented design. A twin-hooded binnacle frames easy-to-read analogue instrumentation which features a 4.2-inch TFT colour multi-information display in the centre. The MID features an all-wheel drive indicator showing the torque distribution, mode selected for the GR-FOUR system and a turbo pressure monitor.
The gear shift lever has a high position on the centre console, raised by 50 mm and set close to the steering wheel, helping the driver make quick shifts. The GR-FOUR selector control is placed just forward of the gear shift, for easy changes between Normal, Sport and Track modes. A ‘racy’ GR-branded, 3-spoke steering wheel with red stitching, circular hub and conveniently-placed steering switches maximise driving pleasure.
The interior is finished in black with Smoke Silver trim details around the door handles, centre console, steering wheel and side air vents. The GR Yaris features either premium textured fabric upholstery or a synthetic leather/Alcantara combination (depending on model grade) paired with Alcantara door inserts. Red stitching and GR-branding is applied throughout for a sporty touch. A special WRC commemorative plaque is fitted to the centre console of each GR Yaris – signalling its pedigree.
All-new 1.6-litre turbo engine
The GR Yaris’s engine is an all-new, three-cylinder turbocharged unit that benefits from motorsport technologies to maximise performance, including multi-oil jet piston cooling, large-diameter exhaust valves and a part-machined intake port. Displacing 1,618cc, it produces a maximum output of 198kW @ 6500 rpm and 360Nm of torque between 3000 and 4600 rpm.
Compact and lightweight, the DOHC 12-valve engine features a single-scroll ball-bearing turbo and large Intercooler to maximise performance. Emphasis was placed on the response of the engine package, while delivering excellent cooling performance. An integrated oil-cooler and high-volume cooling system help maintain engine operating temperatures during enthusiastic driving. Toyota’s D-4S; direct and port-injection system, is utilised for maximum efficiency. Fuel consumption is listed as 7.6 l/100 km with CO2 emissions registering 172 g/km.
The 1.6-litre 12-valve engine meets the World Rally Championship’s Rally 2 (formerly R5) regulations, following Toyota’s negotiations with the sport’s governing body to allow a three-cylinder format. Atsunori Kumagaya, who led the development project, explained: “We preferred this engine due to its light weight and compact size making it simple to install, while the lack of exhaust gas interference made it easier to obtain power.”
The engine is matched to a six-speed manual transmission, engineered to accommodate high torque levels. It features a short and light shift throw, while a motorsport-style clutch provides smooth yet solid engagement.
GR-Four: New all-wheel drive system
The GR Yaris’s performance is supported by a new GR-Four all-wheel drive system designed to optimise drive power to each wheel, while also being simple and lightweight. The distribution of torque between the front and rear axles is governed by a high-response coupling.
The ingenious system uses slightly different gear ratios for the front and rear axles and allows for a theoretical range of front/rear torque balance from 100:0 (full front-wheel drive) to 0:100 (full rear-wheel drive). This flexibility gives a performance advantage over AWD on-demand systems that use twin-coupling or permanent AWD systems with a centre differential. The GR-Four system is also considerably lighter in weight.
The driver can adjust four-wheel drive performance to suit their preference or the driving situation using a 4WD mode dial switch. In normal mode the base front/rear torque distribution is 60:40; in Sport mode the balance shifts to the rear, with a 30:70 split to achieve a fun-to-drive quality on winding roads and circuits; and in Track mode the base setting is 50:50 for fast, competitive driving on circuits or special stages. In each mode, the torque balance will automatically adjust in response to the driver’s inputs, vehicle behaviour and road or track conditions.
All models ride on 18-inch alloy wheels, with a design inspired by a Japanese sword. A ‘square’ tyre arrangement is used with 225-40-R18 rubber at all four corners. Depending on model, the GR Yaris is fitted with either Dunlop SP Sport MAXX 050 or Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres.
Performance Braking System
The performance braking system features large, 356mm grooved front discs with four-pot callipers, engineered to cope with rigorous demands of high-speed track and special-stage driving with high-level heat capacity. Notably, the front brake discs are larger than those fitted to the GR Supra – a further endorsement of the GR Yaris’s high-performance credentials.
Two Grades to Choose From
Two derivatives of the GR Yaris are on offer; the GR Yaris and GR Yaris Rally. The GR Yaris features all the core performance items, and is aimed at the regular user with an ‘on-road’ bias. The Rally suffix indicates the addition of the Circuit Pack (as referenced in some overseas markets).
This equips the car with a Torsen limited-slip differential on both the front and rear axle, performance-tuned suspension, revised power-steering assistance and an upgrade to 18-inch BBS forged alloy wheels – shod with Michelin Pilot Sport 4s tyres.
In addition to the mechanical upgrades, the Rally model also boasts combination leather/Alcantara sports seats in the front with enhanced bolstering, leather rear seats, Heads-up Display (HUD), the Toyota Safety Sense (TSS) active safety suite and Active Noise Control. Active Noise Control amplifies the engine sound by cancelling out opposing frequencies – adding a vocal soundtrack.
All models boast keyless entry with push start, LED-headlamps with Daytime Running Lights (DRL) and auto function, LED foglamps, heated and power-retractable exterior mirrors, plus rain-sensing wipers. On the inside, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, dual-zone climate control, Multi-Information Display (MID), 12-volt power outlet and a tilt-and-telescopic adjustable steering column deliver on convenience.
A 6-speaker touchscreen audio system is standard on all models, and features Apple CarPlay/Android Auto functionality for smartphones as well as Bluetooth and USB inputs.
A full suite of active and passive safety features includes ABS, EBD, Brake Assist (BA), VSC and Hill Assist Control (HAC). A four-wheel tyre pressure monitor system acts as both safety and performance feature.
On the Rally model, the aforementioned TSS-package adds Pre-Collision System (PCS), Automatic High Beam (AHB), Lane Trace Assist and Adaptive Cruise Control.
Model Line-up and Pricing
- Toyota GR Yaris – R606,600
- Toyota GR Yaris Rally – R715,600
All GR Yaris models are sold with a 9-services/90,000 km service plan (intervals set at 10 000 km) and 3-year/100 000km warranty. Customers can also purchase a variety of service and/or warranty add-ons at their local dealership.