Colin-on-Cars: Yaris GR – bred to please

Born from a long history competing in the World Rally Championship, the Toyota GR Yaris incorporates motor sport technology and design directly to the road car.

The GR Yaris is a 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.

“One of Toyota Gazoo Racing’s commitments is to use motor sport to refine its know-how and its personnel, with the aim of launching world-class production sports cars. While the new GR Supra is a sports car developed through track racing, the GR Yaris has been devised through our participation in rallies – something that many of our fans have been waiting for,” says Gazoo Racing President Shigeki Tomoyama.

The new GR Yaris is Toyota’s first genuine all-wheel drive sports car and its first homologation model for World Rally Championship competition since the end of production of the Celica GT-Four in 1999.

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-litreturbo 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.

At the front, 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.

Inside, 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.

The GR Yaris’s engine is an all-new, three-cylinder turbo-charged unit that benefits from motor sport technologies to maximise performance, including multi-oil jet piston cooling, large-diameter exhaust valves and a part-machined intake port. Displacing 1 618 cc, it produces a maximum output of 198 kW at 6 500 r/min and 360 Nm of torque between 3 000 r/min and 4 600 r/min.

The DOHC 12-valve engine features a single-scroll ball-bearing turbo and large intercooler and 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, explains: “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.

The body shell is constructed predominantly from lightweight materials, including a new carbon fibre polymer for the roof that can be compression moulded (a first for Toyota). Aluminium is used for the bonnet, doors and tailgate.

As a result, the GR Yaris has the power of a C-segment performance hatch but the weight of a B-segment machine (kerb weight of just 1 280 kg). Its power-to-weight ratio of 0,154 kW per kg helps deliver a 0-100 km/h acceleration time of 5,5 seconds and an electronically limited top speed of 230 km/h.

The GR Yaris’s performance is supported by a new GR-Four all-wheel drive system where distribution of torque between the front and rear axles is governed by a high-response coupling.

The 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.

Where the standard new Yaris uses a torsion beam rear suspension, the GR Yaris has a double wishbone set-up and a MacPherson strut system is used at the front.

All models ride on 18-inch alloy wheels, 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.

The performance braking system features large, 356 mm grooved front discs with four-pot callipers and the front brake discs are larger than those fitted to the GR Supra.

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.

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-inchBBS forgedalloy 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 have 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 anti-lock braking, 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 TSS-package adds Pre-Collision System (PCS), Automatic High Beam (AHB), Lane Trace Assist and Adaptive Cruise Control.


Toyota GR Yaris                       – R 606 600

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.

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