Toyota GR Yaris Turbocharged Three-Cylinder Engine Under Inspection

GR Yaris 17 photos
Photo: Toyota Motor Company
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After enormous success in motorsport with feats like the WRC title and three consecutive wins at Le Mans, Toyota’s Gazoo Racing division launched the road-legal, rally-inspired GR Yaris in Japan not long ago.  It features one of the most powerful three-cylinder engine ever built.
The hot hatch exclusively assembled at the GR HQ in Motomachi resembles its WRC sibling in both design and performance, being tuned to perform on several types of roads and making the driver feel safe, comfortable and egaged.

It stands out from the standard Yaris in about every way, having a much more aggressive design and packing a drivetrain and engine combo that makes it extremely fun to drive.

For the moment, it is available in Japan in two versions. Those who want a sportier base-Yaris can opt for the RS version, which comes with front-wheel-drive, a naturally aspirated 1.5 liter inline-3 that produces 120 PS and an easy-to-use Direct Shift-CVT transmission.

The other and more logical choice for those who understand the GR pedigree, is the four-wheel-drive RZ version, which comes with Torsen differentials, a manual six-speed transmission and one of the most powerful three-cylinder engines in production.

Yaris GR Engine
Photo: Toyota Motor Company
The compact and lightweight G16E-GTS is a DOHC 12-valve engine that features a single-scroll ball-bearing turbo with a compression ratio of 10:5:1. It also utilizes Toyota’s D-4ST direct/port injection system with multi-oil jet piston-cooling, enlarged exhaust valves and a CNC-machined intake port.

The power output of the engine stands at 272 PS for the European version and 268 HP for its Japanese market counterparts. The JDM version produces a massive 273 lb-ft (370 Nm) of torque at 3,000–4,600 RPM. For a 1.6-liter engine, that translates into 166 HP per liter, making it more powerful than the 1.5-liter 3-cylinder BMW engine that used to power the i8.

With such figures, it also produces the highest specific output of any of the Toyota road car engines ever made, exceeding the 128 HP per liter specific output from the 256 HP, two-liter, third-generation 3S-GTE engine used in the ST246 Caldina GT-Four.

The GR Yaris equipped with this marvelous little monster has a power-to-weight ratio of only 4.9 kg per DIN hp, which helps accelerate the hot hatch from 0 to 60 mph (97 kph)  in less than 5.5 seconds and can reach a top speed of 143 mph (230 kph) that is unfortunately limited electronically.

Yaris GR
Photo: Toyota Motor Company
Prior to its launch, the car was developed using the invaluable input from the likes of Le Mans and Formula 1 Champion, Fernando Alonso, four-time WRC legend and current team manager of Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team, Tommi Mäkinen and current GR WRC driver Jari-Matti Latvala, who is known for his aggressive driving star and is legitimately the most successful driver in WRC that has never won a championship.

It remains to be seen where this engine will stack up on the list of compact engine legends but one thing is for certain, it is a marvelous feat of development and engineering and it solidifies Toyota’s place in the market of performance road cars.

Toyota has made it clear that the Yaris GR will not, under any circumstance, be sold on the U.S. market given the country’s overall loathing of tiny cars. This decision comes as no surprise and it is understandable from a business perspective but it there is still a glimmer of hope for American hot hatch enthusiasts with the Japanese car maker hinting at another GR hot hatch coming to the U.S. soon.
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About the author: Vlad Radu
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Vlad's first car was custom coach built: an exotic he made out of wood, cardboard and a borrowed steering wheel at the age of five. Combining his previous experience in writing and car dealership years, his articles focus in depth on special cars of past and present times.
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