Toyota launched its much-anticipated GR Yaris at the start of the year, a turbocharged, all-wheel-drive, three-door hot hatchback that will be the second model in Toyota’s high-performance GR range, and the homologation model for its 2020 WRC world rally car. With UK prices starting from £29,995, order books are now open, and Toyota’s ensuring that the current global situation doesn’t get between you and your dream hot hatch...
In order to help buyers avoid Covid-19 restrictions and maintain social distancing, the marque has launched an online pre-ordering system, allowing you to reserve your car, for the fee of £1500, without leaving your sofa. First cars are expected to hit UK soil in October, and will set you back from £29,995, or £33,495 if you opt for the Circuit Pack.
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Powering the GR Yaris is an all-new, bespoke 1618cc turbocharged three-cylinder engine that is mounted lower down and further back than in standard Yaris models. The unit features a part-machined intake port, four valves per cylinder and a single-scroll turbocharger. Peak power is quoted at 257bhp, with torque rated at 266lb ft. These outputs make the GR Yaris the most powerful three-cylinder model in the world. Toyota quotes a 0-62mph time of 5.5sec and an electronically limited top speed of 143mph.
Power is transmitted via a six-speed manual transmission (there is no automatic or dual-clutch option available) to a four-wheel-drive system that distributes torque between the axles via a central coupling, as opposed to an on-demand Haldex-style system found in other small all-wheel-drive hot hatchbacks such as the late Audi S1. Torque split between the axles is variable depending on a selected driver mode, with Normal, Sport and Track modes dividing drive 60:40, 30:70 and 50:50 respectively.
Optional Torsion limited-slip differentials on both front and rear axles are also available bundled in a Circuit Pack that combines these with a different set of 18-inch forged alloy wheels wrapped in 225/40 R18 Michelin Super Sport tyres, and a more track-oriented suspension tune.
Despite sharing a name with the standard Yaris hatch, this three-door-only model features a bespoke body that’s significantly wider and 91mm lower than the standard five-door model. The new body has been designed with rallying in mind with new suspension pick-up points, a wider track and a double-wishbone rear axle all bespoke to the GR Yaris. The body itself incorporates lightweight materials to keep the weight down to 1280kg, with a carbonfibre roof skin and aluminium doors, bonnet and boot lid.
Why go to all the effort and expense of re-engineering things such as the roofline and axles for a homologation special? Gazoo Racing’s 2020 Yaris WRC car differs so much from the standard Yaris that this homologation model will need to be produced. In contrast to old Group N WRC rules, which required a limited number of closely related road-going examples to be produced in order to comply (think early Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution or Subaru WRX), today’s rules allow a wider chasm between the road and rally versions. However, venture outside these limitations, as Toyota Gazoo Racing has done, and a large production run is required to homologate the race car.
As such, the GR Yaris will not be limited to just a few hundred units. Instead Toyota will need to produce a full 25,000 next year in order to comply with WRC regulations. Order books are open now, and first examples are set to reach UK customers in October.