“The GR Yaris Circuit Pack is as close to the Yaris WRC as you can get without joining the rally team.” That’s not some bold statement by us to pique your interest, instead it’s rallying legend Jari Matti Latvala of the Toyota WRC team. Are you really going to argue with him?
Touted as the most exciting new car of 2020, the rally homologation-special Toyota GR Yaris is finally available here. Before we delve into the mind-melting details of the rally hatch for the road, we bring you a recap of the people behind this turbocharged monster and its significance in today’s motoring landscape.
Toyota has a rich history of proper performance machinery. Few and far between they may be in the bundles of beige that comprise SUVs, minivans, and Camry’s, the AE86, A80 Supra and Celica GT-Four are mainstays of our wet dreams.
The heritage lives on with the new GR Supra and GT86. A rallying rep has been conspicuously missing though… until now. Built specifically for Toyota to compete in the World Rally Championship, the GR Yaris shares almost nothing with the garden-variety Yaris your mother sends you to school in.
Even the platform underpinning it’s completely bespoke in true uncompromising motorsports fashion. The front MacPherson setup is carried over from the GA-B platform of the regular Yaris while the rear is adapted from the larger GA-C platform found on the Corolla and C-HR with a double wishbone setup.
You’ll find stopping power more than adequate with the 14.0-inch front rotors (larger than the GR Supra) and rear 11.7-inch rotors. Seeing that Malaysia gets the most-performance oriented trim aptly designated the Performance Pack (PP), there will be a number of special bits. Here, it’s red four-pot calipers on the front, GR-tuned suspension and thicker front anti-roll bars.
Also a PP special is the lighter 18-inch BBS forged alloy wheels (10kg lighter than stock) and Michelin Pilot Sport 4S rubber combo. Sizing is 225/40R18. Power is delivered via Toyota’s first performance-oriented 4WD system in 20 years, dubbed the GR-Four.
It features a fast-response center coupling with three settings that alter the torque split. Normal sends 60 per cent to the front; Sport sends 70 per cent to the rear while Track locks the front and rear axles in a 50:50 split. Part of the PP is a Torsen limited-slip differential.
Power comes from a turbocharged, 1.6-litre inline-three engine. Don’t let the size and layout fool you; it packs 257hp and 360Nm of torque, making it the most-powerful three-cylinder production engine in the world. Before you ask, it’s a three-cylinder due to lightweight and compact size. Even the engine’s positioning in the bay is pushed back for better weight distribution.
Rightly so, there’s only a six-speed manual and three-pedals just like god intended. Auto rev-matching is available but can be deactivated. Century sprint arrives in 5.5-seconds and top speed is capped at 230kph. Also part of the lord’s work includes a mechanical hand-operated handbrake for those handbrake turns.
The only components the GR Yaris shares with the regular Yaris are the headlights, taillights, side-view mirrors and roof antenna. With the bespoke chassis comes new A-pillars, new body side stampings and a new carbon fibre polymer roof that sits 1.8-inches lower. In fact, the roof slopes much lower towards the rear than a standard Yaris to aid airflow towards the giant rear spoiler. At the rearmost point, the roof is 3.7 inches lower than the regular Yaris.
Aluminium is applied on about 10 per cent of the body structure to cut about 34kg over the regular Yaris. Kerb weight is 1,280kg. Seeing that it’s a bespoke chassis for motorsports, the body-in-white stiffened with six per cent more welds and 70 per cent more structural adhesive to increase rigidity. Everything is put together at the bespoke GR factory in Motomachi, Japan; where the Lexus LFA supercar was built.
Inside, the driver and passenger gets cossetted in sports seats. No digital instrument cluster here, it’s analogue all the way. However, there’s a 4.2-inch TFT colour multi-information display (MID) that has readouts for the torque distribution, driving mode selected, gear shift indicator and boost gauge.
Don’t discard its diminutive size, the GR Yaris is a proper motorsports homologation special that is in a league of its own; even in the performance car segment. Seeing as FIA World Rally Championship rules specify the requirement for a production model if the competition’s car chassis and production one differ, Gazoo Racing; Toyota’s motorsports arm, developed the GR Yaris as the base of the next-generation Yaris WRC.
Rallying legend Tommi Mäkinen; who heads Toyota’s World Rally Championship programme, had significant input into the hatch’s development.
So, how much will all this set you back? A cool RM299,000 (excluding road tax and comprehensive insurance). With only 25,000 units worldwide, Malaysia will be privy to just under 200 units of this raging hot hatch. Each car sold here will bear a special number plate to indicate its exclusivity.