Why the Upcoming Toyota Yaris GR is a Game-Changing Hot Hatch

My predictions for what the next Toyota Yaris hot hatch was going to be like were incomplete - it’s going to be much better than anybody ever anticipated.
When I wrote about the brief (and not very impressive) history Toyota has making hot hatches, I ended my piece by talking about what the next Yaris GR was going to be like. I based my arguments on what Toyota had done to create the first Yaris GRMN, a focused and very fast front-wheel drive trackday special.

But it turns out the Japanese automaker had even bigger plans for the model. There will apparently be two hot versions of the Yaris, based on information gathered from spyshots, teasers and actual official press releases. The first will most likely be called the Yaris GR Sport, and it’s a spiced up version of the regular five-door Yaris - it will probably have enough power to make it competitive against the likes of the Renault Clio RS or the VW Polo GTI.

Even this model on its own is an interesting prospect. Toyota has definitely learned a lot from making the first Yaris GRMN, and this second model along those same lines should build upon and improve that formula. The automaker will also probably sell a lot more of these than it did Yaris GRMNs - only 400 examples made it to Europe.

Now the fact that Toyota is making a mainstream hot hatch variant of the new Yaris is all nice, but it’s the other model it has in store that’s far more interesting and appealing. The automaker will also launch a rally-inspired, all-wheel drive Yaris GR-4, a car that is sure to entice those who enjoy driving sideways on an empty stretch of gravel road.

The upcoming Yaris GR-4 is made even more special by the fact that it will come exclusively in a three-door configuration. On top of this, the car will have unique front and rear fascias, blistered wheel arches and a sloping, fastback-style roof that will surely make it instantly recognizable to enthusiasts.

Some shots of the GR-4 were recently leaked online, and it looks every bit as good as you were expecting it to. And the fact that it’s a three-door makes it quite a rare presence in the hot hatch segment; most manufacturers only sell their hot hatches with five doors these days in order to maximize their appeal.

We can’t really tell whether or not the GR-4 will only come as a two-seater, because even in the set of leaked photos, the car’s rear windows are heavily tinted and you can’t see inside. But it wouldn’t be out of the question for Toyota to ditch the back seat along with the set of rear doors, since this will most likely be a limited series model for collectors and driving nuts (who won’t care whether it’s practical or not).

Toyota has teased the Yaris GR-4 on a number of occasion, but it has yet to spill the beans regarding the model’s powertrain. The most likely candidate to power it is the same 1.8-liter that motivates the Yaris GRMN, although there is a chance the supercharger will be ditched in favor of a turbocharger in order to maintain its rally car-like feel.

Whatever Toyota has chosen to power the GR-4, it’s safe to assume it will have more than the 212 horsepower of the Yaris GRMN. I mean we live in a time when subcompact hot hatches have over 300 horsepower (the MINI JCW GP), and since all-wheel drive systems incur more losses, I think it will have enough power to sprint to sixty in around 5 seconds.

Don’t expect it to be cheap, though. When Toyota launched the Yaris GRMN as a hardcore, limited series model, it made sure to charge its customers accordingly - the GRMN cost from just under €30,000 in Europe. The GR-4 will most likely cost even more than that, maybe somewhere closer to €40,000.

However, if it performs as well as we are hoping it will, then Toyota will have no trouble selling however many hundreds it ends up making. There will be nothing else like it on the market and hot hatch fans are going to go nuts over it - a rally-bred, all-wheel drive hot hatch in a pint-sized package from a manufacturer who is renowned for its rallying success; it’s going to be a riot and we can’t wait to find out more about it.


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