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GR Toyota Yaris: A Preview Of What's To Come

Yes, we all know that the Toyota GR Yaris will not make an appearance stateside anytime soon...the clock starts now for the 25 year import rule to take effect but who knows if that will exist for us with EPA regulations getting more strict every year. What we can look forward to is what Gazoo Racing is doing for the Toyota lineup both in the United States and worldwide in places like Japan and across Europe where the desire for performance vehicles has not completely vanished. We should start by looking at the Yaris itself, but let's praise Toyota for a second as it adds a third enthusiast model after the 86 and GR Supra; and this model is 100% home grown. The current landscape of vehicles is forcing automakers to create more SUVs of all sizes, to go electric as soon as possible, and to stop offering manuals as they just do not sell enough to make engineering those transmissions worthwhile. Toyota however is moving away from its conservative nature under the helm of Akio Toyoda, the Lexus brand is constantly injecting sportiness into their rides under the F moniker, and now GR will signify a performance variant of your not so average car.

First, let's see what the rest of the world is getting, the GR Yaris comes equipped with the G16E-GTS engine that produces 257 HP and 266 lb-ft of torque from 1.6 liters, a turbocharger, and just 3 cylinders. The power is sent to all four BBS wheels with the GR-Four AWD system that uses a torsen LSD in both the front and the rear. Transmission choices are kept simple with a 6-speed being the best and only option, the whole package itself weighs just about 2,822 lbs as heavy use of polymers, carbon fiber, and aluminum make sure this TNGA based Yaris variant is levels above the model it is based on. Newly developed suspension components, a wider stance, 18 inch wheels, a lower roofline, and a plethora of parts make all of the GR badged Yaris cars special for those able to purchase one. Performance is the main separator and this variant of subcompact car goes from 0-60 in 5.5 seconds, is governor limited to 143 mph, and from all of the videos that have been populating the internet; it handles turns extraordinarily well beyond its rally DNA. Different driving modes split the power between the front and rear wheels, 50:50, 30:7, 70:30 and a variety of options to remove driving aids make the Yaris a car for all seasons and driver types.

The Yaris has been making the rounds at press events, WRC events, and even Goodwood Speed Week in a similar way the GR Supra presented itself before it's release just two years ago. The hill climb is a way for those in attendance physically and online to get excited for what's to come, to drool over the hottest of hot hatches to hit the scene. Although development of the GR Yaris as a homologation model ceased due to regulations forcing Toyota and other companies to add hybrids within the next few years, at the grassroots level many teams are surely going to develop this platform further. Testing on the Nurburgring has revealed a possible upgraded version of the GR Yaris, it could also be a test mule for other TNGA based vehicles but time will tell what is to come from all of this, but let's look at our prospects.

Gazoo Racing already has a place with the Supra here in the United States, the next step will not be the Yaris as the subcompact is not sold here currently as it is elsewhere (it's a restyled Mazda 2). The Corolla and CH-R however, will get some GR love beyond what is offered overseas with styling accessories, Toyota USA has confirmed development of at least a GR Corolla with similar sporting aspirations of the Yaris we have been drooling over from afar. Expect the Corolla to get some sort of variant of the G16E-GTS, possibly with an extra cylinder and similar power levels that will viral contemporaries like the Honda Civic Si/Type R, Hyundai Veloster N, and Volkswagen GTI. While we still don't have all the details, one question other than a release date is if the upcoming Corolla/CH-R will have an AWD system or just remain front wheel drive, other vehicles have showed the prowess of such a drive configuration so we will see what is decided. Another question is price, the GR Yaris would cost us close to $40,000 US when calculating current exchange rates. Who is in the market for a Toyota that expensive you may ask? The many enthusiasts who were not offered the option of owning all of the Japanese market 90's great Toyotas that were built, the Celica GT4/Alltrac was only offered in small numbers for just a couple of years well before a serious consideration of sports cars built by Toyota was had amongst American buyers. Ultimately we may see the price go down, we may have a hatch or sedan Corolla with some or most of the performance of the GR Yaris, and that means Toyota is back in the exciting car business...Oh what a feeling!

Photos Courtesy of Toyota Global and BestCar Web.


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