autoevolution

2020 Toyota GR Yaris Review

CAR SIZE: sub-compact
BODY TYPE: Hatchback
The lineage of the Yaris nameplate is a complicated one. Depending on the market it sells on, the car is either a rebadged version of the Mazda2 (North America), or more original hatchbacks in most other markets. 
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As of the first month of 2020, the otherwise dull hatch that is sold everywhere but North America turned very hot with the introduction of the GR Yaris at the Tokyo Auto Salon. That means all of the crazy performance you’re about to read about in the lines below will likely not make it stateside. 

For the rest of Toyota’s customers, this new version of the car will become the top of the range, and what’s more important is that the GR is a Yaris one could easily enter in rally competitions. 

Developed together with World Rally Championship team Tommi Mäkinen Racing, the Yaris, the second model after the Supra to be put together with assistance from Gazoo Racing, Toyota’s motorsport arm, the GR will become the homologation model for future WRC activity.

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1Exterior design & features

Based on the current generation Yaris, presented in 2019, the GR comes with its own unique styling, resulting from a series of changes targeted at providing the best aerodynamic solutions for the hot hatch.

The most striking change compared to the usual Yaris is the car’s height. Toyota, in the quest to improve the car’s ability to cut through the air, lowered the roofline by 91 mm. As you’ll see below, that solved the aerodynamic requirements, but also gave the GR a meaner look than what we’re used to.

The two side doors of the car are frameless, helping to give it a distinctive look in the range. Other changes include new design for the front grille and spoiler, and wide, 18-inch alloy wheels at the rear.

As a tribute to the Celica GT-FOUR (the car that brought Toyota the biggest number of rally victories, 30, and four driver’s championships), a GR-FOUR logo is featured on the tailgate.

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2Interior design, features
and passenger space

The interior of the three-door hatch is not all that different from the one seen on the current generation Yaris. And being aware of this, Toyota itself revealed no changes when it comes to materials chosen, luggage space, and so on. 

3Gadgets

Being based on an existing road car, the GR packs the same type of connectivity and assist assets already deployed on the stock version. That includes the high-mounted touchscreen, the dials and buttons beneath the screen, and the digital instrument cluster.

Toyota did not reveal yet whether rally-focused technologies will be offered once the car hits the road later this year. 

4Performance

Toyota did not insist much on changing the exterior or interior appearance of the GR because that was not its main focus. What mattered for the Japanese was making the car one of the most powerful choices in its class, and by the looks of it that undoubtedly is so.

The car is powered by a brand new 1.6-liter engine tweaked by Gazoo into developing from just three cylinders a staggering 261 hp. The Japanese say that’s the equivalent of a C-segment performance hatch, wrapped in a B-segment car that weighs just 1,280 kg.

Punching in the horsepower and weight leaves us with a power-to-weight ratio of 4.9 kg/hp, which is by all standards amazing. And proof of that is the 5.5 seconds acceleration time recorded by the car, and the top speed which had to be limited to 230 kph (143 mph).

Another highlight of the GR is that this is a four-wheel-drive car. That’s right, a hatchback for the road with traction on all four wheels and, in certain configurations, like when using the Circuit-Pack, with two Torsen limited-slip differentials, performance-tuned suspension and 18-inch forged alloy wheels with Michelin Pilot tires. 

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5Safety

Making the GR Yaris a car that will spawn the next-gen WRC Toyota meant there were some more changes needed, other than improving aerodynamics and fitting a powerful engine inside.

In order to achieve better balance for the car, the engine was fitted further back than it usually is, and the battery has been moved in the trunk. This should allow for a better weight distribution, more stability and faster responsiveness. 

6Conclusion

As said, this is the second GR model developed by Toyota, in what surely is to become a trend for the Japanese. The car is supposed to launch in the second half of 2020, and based on it a new generation WRC car will be developed.

The Yaris will be assembled at the dedicated Gazoo facility in Motomachi, Japan.