Toyota GR Yaris – driving test and video of the new rally gun

Toyota GR Yaris driving test

Possibly one of the craziest cars of the year. We were sincerely looking forward to the driving test of the Toyota GR Yaris.

It doesn't happen often in recent years, but it wasn't uncommon in the 1980s and 1990s. Developing a homologation special. A car and/or parts that were specifically needed for racing or rallying, but of which enough had to be sold to consumers. Of course that produces gems, such as the various Delta Integrales, but also the first generation Porsche 911 GT3 (RS).

From five-door shopping-car to three-door rally-cannon

The changes Toyota made are quite bizarre. After all, the regular Yaris is only available as a five-door hatchback, the GR Yaris only has three doors. Only headlights, taillights and side mirrors are the same as with the regular Yaris, the rest is different.

For example, the roof descends faster and ends 95 mm lower than with the regular Yaris. This increases the effectiveness of the spoiler. The rear is different anyway, because the GR Yaris uses a unique platform: GA-B Yaris at the front, with the rear of the GA-C (CH-R and Corolla). The rear axle uses double wishbones and has a wider track, which greatly improves handling. The GR Yaris is 55mm longer, 60mm wider, 45mm lower, but has the same wheelbase.

Stiffier and lighter

Weight and a twisting body are the natural opponents of speed, so Toyota has made great strides there too. For example, the hood, tailgate and front doors are made of aluminum, which saves 24 kg. The Carbon composite roof of C-SMC (Carbon sheet molding compound) provides a saving of 3.5kg.

All body parts are normally welded and or glued together. Toyota did not hold back there either, so the number of welding points rose to 4715, 259 more than with the regular Yaris. The biggest difference is probably in the glued parts: there is 14.6 meters more for a total of 35.4 meters.

Strongest three-cylinder in the world world

A three-cylinder engine of only 1.6 liters still pumps 261 hp at 6,500 rpm. and delivers a maximum torque of 360 Nm at 3,000-4,600 rpm. It is a fairly toxic block that ensures that the GR Yaris sprints to 100 in 5.5 seconds. The top speed is limited to 230 km/h. With an empty weight of 1,280 kilograms, the GR Yaris has a horsepower-to-weight ratio of 4.9 kg/hp.

The strongest three-cylinder

GR-FOUR AWD: permanent four-wheel drive

The new GR-FOUR AWD system has been specially developed for the GR Yaris. It is a four-wheel drive where the driver can choose from three modes. The options are: Track (50:50, for high speeds in all road conditions, from dry to snowy), Sport (30:70, with the focus on rear-wheel drive) and Normal (60:40, the standard driving mode, best suited for everyday use).

If you opt for the Performance Pack, the GR Yaris Performance also gets Torsen limited-slip differentials at the front and rear. Yummie.

Our heart is beating full of expectation

With all these beautiful ingredients we were also sincerely looking forward to the GR Yaris to let out. After entry, the first disappointment immediately follows: the seat is much too high. This day we mainly look at the roof edge and you are really sitting on the trestle. Well, there are worse things in life.

It is also a pity that we are on the road with were allowed to send a luxury version of the GR Yaris. No Torsen barriers, but parking sensors. The logic of that version escapes us anyway. Apparently the Dutch buyers too, because they all opt for a GR Yaris Performance.

The GR Yaris makes up for it for the first few meters. What a nice toxic block with a good sound (which is partly synthetic). If after the first kilometers the heat is in the block, it is nice to chase the GR Yaris through the (manual) gear. This part is good and the performance is really more than fine for the size car.

Not so playful

Of course it doesn't take long before we switch the four-wheel drive to Sport with the rotary knob. The GR Yaris then sends 70% of the power to the rear wheels, we should be able to do something with that. But that hardly turned out to be the case, on the throttle the Yaris does want to understeer a bit, but nothing exciting happens at the rear wheels.

Even under slippery conditions, Toyota seems to have opted for efficiency above all. The rear neatly follows the front, steering with the accelerator is hardly possible. There is virtually no need to counteract. Definitely very safe and probably very fast too, but that was also the case in the other four-wheel drive modes where more power is sent to the front.

On the tight Midland circuit we can give it a try with the GR Yaris Performance, which does have locks on the front and rear axles. A short job has been set up, one the Yaris seems to be. We have to admit: in terms of speed, the GR Yaris definitely impresses there. The little Japanese is tough to chase and offers a lot of confidence. Alone…. It's still not fun. There are no real moments of upset. Despite the barriers, some of the  power even seems to disappear to the inner rear wheel.

Conclusion Toyota GR Yaris driving test

Beautiful ingredients make the GR Yaris a highly effective weapon for a rally stage. At least that's what we think, because in the Netherlands you really never drive under those kinds of conditions.

We were looking forward to the driving test with the Toyota GR Yaris. It is a very impressive car, but the very predictable handling was disappointing. The promise of adjusting the torque distribution and Torsen barriers of the Performance pack was not really fulfilled.

For 2020, the GR Yaris is already sold out in the Netherlands at a price of 50,495 euros. The price will rise next year due to the adjusted taxes in the Netherlands.