The Toyota GR Yaris is sharp, precise around corners, and powerful

Last year, Toyota said it would bring the GR Yaris to the South African market in mid-2021, and it looks like we will see it at the dealerships soon (hopefully this month). This Gazoo Racing (GR) Yaris is a World Rally Championship homologation special and joins the GR Supra in the company's GR product range. Gazoo Racing has employed its entire engineering expertise in motorsport to create this unbelievably fun to drive 3-door hot hatch.

Do not mistake it with the regular Yaris because it only shares a few things (such as lights and wing mirrors) with its 5-door sibling. Besides the 95-mm lower roofline and four-wheel drive, it has the world’s most powerful production three-cylinder powerplant.

The Toyota GR Yaris carries a 1.6-litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol engine generating 200kW and 370Nm of torque. The most potent 3-cylinder mill you can ever find in a production car pairs with the latest GR-Four permanent all-wheel-drive system. Courtesy of a notable power-to-weight ratio of 156kW/tonne, you can hit the 100km/h mark in just 5.2 seconds and go as fast as 230km/h. The power goes to the wheels through a six-speed manual gearbox.

It is sharp, precise around corners, and gets back the power in no time, thanks to the power distribution ratio. The hot hatchback offers three drive modes: Normal with 60:40 split (front inclined), Sport with 30:70 split (rear inclined), and Track with 50:50 ratio. The latter is rear inclined unless the sensors find the front wheels slipping.

The engineers have employed advanced motorsport technologies such as multi oil-jet piston cooling, machined intake ports, and big-diameter exhaust valves. Moreover, they added direct and port fuel injection, high-speed combustion, a single scroll ball-bearing turbocharger, an aluminium oil cooler, and a big-capacity water pump and air cleaner.

The 2021 Toyota GR Yaris’ platform is different from the regular 5-door model. It, in fact, is a combination of Toyota's GA-B platform (Yaris) and the GA-C platform (Corolla). This dedicated platform was necessary for stability and better handling through new fully independent front and rear suspension setups. The engineers tweaked every aspect to augment the performance. At the front, it has more stiff MacPherson struts compared to the standard Yaris featuring newly created knuckles and firmer bushes for enhanced control.

Undoubtedly, the 2021 Toyota GR Yaris is an engineering marvel optimised for both roads and racetracks. However, from the inside, it is just another Yaris, which is a disappointment. The bucket seats look sporty but don’t get the reinforcement around the thigh section. The GR emblem is on the steering wheel and a WRC homologation symbol is visible under the drive mode selector knob. Nothing else distinguishes it from the standard model. We were expecting some performance-specific and track-focused features but couldn’t find them.

According to, Toyota Motor SA has confirmed that the 2021 GR Yaris will accompany a more hardcore, track-focused model called GR Yaris Rallye. The Rallye/Track Pack Edition is lightweight with more performance-focused parts offering higher-level performance on the track. Some of the changes include firmer anti-roll bars, Torsen limited-slip differentials on both the axles, lightweight 18-inch BBS wheels with stickier Michelin Pilot Sport 4S high-performance tyres (225/40ZR18 in size), and so on.


Please note the imagery supplied in this blog was taken off 

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