Toyota GR Yaris: Designed From the Ground up to Be a Pocket Performance Machine

How the Toyota GR Yaris was born is quite an intriguing story of courage and motorsport passion. The XP210 series Yaris was sold on the market only as a five-door body style, a fact that posed a significant problem for Toyota's World Rally Championship (WRC) team.
Toyota GR Yaris 9 photos
Photo: Toyota
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They believed that best suited for competition would be a three-door hatchback vehicle with a lower roofline and a wider rear track. To meet WRC's rules, the company would need to produce at least 25,000 units in a continuous 12-month period, which is no easy feat. Not least, the vehicles are required to share the same basic bodyshell as the production car they are based on. Mr. Akio Toyoda, the CEO of the company, believed strongly that the brand should be thoroughly represented at the WRC competitions, so he authorized the development of the GR Yaris as a homologation vehicle, despite the immense financial expense requirements.

Apart from its name, the two-door GR Yaris holds very little in common with its regular five-door sibling. Its wheelbase seems very similar but, there is a world of difference between the two, the GR Yaris being built on a platform that combines the regular Yaris front-end with the rear section of the GA-C platform on which the CH-R or Corolla are based. Furthermore, other GR Yaris exclusives are the widened multilink rear suspension and the underfloor tunnel that houses the driveshaft for the four-wheel-drive system.

Toyota GR Yaris
Photo: Toyota
A veritable pocket rocket for the road, the GR Yaris gets its power from a turbocharged 1.6-liter three-cylinder powerplant that produces 257 hp and 266 lb-ft (360 Nm) of torque, making it the most powerful production three-cylinder unit on the market. It enables the GR Yaris to reach a 0 to 62 mph (100 kph) time of just 5.5 seconds and a 143 mph (230 kph). Moreover, the engine comes hydraulically mounted on one side in order to reduce unwanted vibrations and movements during high-speed driving.

The transmission of choice for this homologation special is only a six-speed manual assembly but works wonders alongside a four-wheel-drive system that is said to be one of the lightest on the market. It boasts an aluminum transfer case that can alter the torque split depending on the driving mode of choice, from a 60:40 setting front to rear in Normal mode to 30:70 in Sport or 50:50 in the Track setting.

Open differentials come as standard but, the optional Circuit Pack brings a pair of Torsen limited-slip differentials and a reworked suspension in the mix, alongside other goodies such as a set of BBS forged 18-inch alloy wheels and Michelin Pilot Sport 4S performance tires. Bringing the mighty GR Yaris to a halt is a set of massive brakes featuring a pair of 14-inch front rotors, which are even larger than the ones found on the current generation Toyota Supra.

Toyota GR Yaris
Photo: Toyota
The interior cabin of the GR Yaris is completely driver-focused, boasting a small-diameter leather-wrapped steering wheel with fingertip controls, a thrilling short-throw gear shifter, and aluminum pedals. The front sports seats offer substantial support during spirited driving but are also comfortable during long journeys. The rear seats even offer ISOFIX anchor points and can split 60/40 to expand luggage space - not bad for a road-legal rally car. Additionally, the infotainment system consists of a 7-inch touchscreen display and a powerful JBL advanced audio multimedia system with Apple Carplay and Android Auto connectivity.

Sadly, this pocket rocket cannot be bought on the US market but, in other parts of the world, base pricing starts from around $36,644. With the Circuit Package selected, though, the cost of owning this road-legal rally car can easily exceed the $40,000 mark. But, for the right buyer, the asking price is well worth it, considering the GR Yaris' story and the uniqueness that comes with it.
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About the author: Dan Marinescu
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Since his early childhood, Dan developed an avid passion for cars and, now he sees himself as a genuine petrolhead. His enthusiasm comes from his father, an automotive engineer. They love to reminisce about the days when his dad showed him the inner workings of an engine and why everything does what it does.
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