The GR Yaris seems to have tipped the hot hatch market on its head. Is it the best?
Is the new GR Yaris overhyped? Chris Harris called it the ‘best new car’ he’s driven this year. Top Gear rated it 10/10. Mat Watson (carwow) said he’s considering selling his Porsche for one. All in all, people are raving about the Toyota GR Yaris!
So, what is the GR Yaris and can it compete with the likes of the Golf R, Civic Type R, Focus RS and Veloster N? Well, according to the beaming reviews, we would say it seems to go above and beyond the competition.
First of all, for those that do not know, ‘GR’ stands for GAZOO Racing which is a racing division of Toyota’s with a rich history in rally racing, which brings us nicely onto the GR Yaris – essentially a rally car for the road. Well, not quite but it’s pretty close.
The WRC Yaris was cancelled and will never see a day of rally racing and so, it would seem that the GR Yaris has taken a lot of the engineering put into said cancelled car and wrapped it up into a nice, road-legal package which we now have before us. The GR Yaris has, for example, limited-slip differentials on both axels and a bespoke AWD system which is the first sports AWD system in 20 years, according to Toyota.
Although it has ‘Yaris’ in its name, the GR Yaris shares very little with the ordinary road car it shares its name with. All the body panels, seats, wheels, suspension, transmission, engine, chassis and pretty much everything else, are unique to the GR Yaris making it, really, not a Yaris at all.
Thanks to rally-focused engineering by GR, headed by one of the most successful WRC drivers of all time, Tommi Mäkinen, this mighty hot hatch may not be horsepower-heavy but when it comes to handling, it’s said to be second to none. Truly coming into its own around wet windy roads where other, much more expensive, sports cars would fail, the GR Yaris makes child’s play of the hardest turns. This is why it’s been rated so highly.
Although only equipped with a measly 3-cyl 1.6-litre engine but here’s the catch. It’s the world’s most powerful production 3-cylinder engine, producing 257 hp and 266 lb-ft of torque. And although 257 hp may still not sound like much, this is a hot hatch with a carbon fibre roof and aluminium doors, bonnet and rear weighing in at just 1,280 kg.
Reviewers love it for its harsh stance on transmission, offering only six-speed manual transmission, resulting in the journalists spamming the “driver’s car” buzzword like no tomorrow. On top of that, the GR Yaris also offers a track mode and a sport driving mode, with the torque being split 50:50 and 30:70 for them respectively. Essentially, allowing you to choose between a glue-like grip to the road or a more chaotic, drifty experience.
The GR Yaris is a genuine rally homologation, or at least would have been if WRC didn’t change the rules and put Toyota in a tough spot for competing. It’s like a nostalgic crowd-pleaser for those who reminisce about the Group B days with cars like the Renault Turbo 5, Peugeot 205 T16 and Ford RS200. Although it may not offer the same luxuries as the Golf R or more premium hot hatches, from what’s been said, it does sound like it could offer more in terms of fun and circuit performance than it.
Is the GR Yaris the new king of hot hatches? Let us know your thoughts, in the comments below!
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