Toyota Yaris GR hot hatch: specifications and details announced

The Toyota Yaris is a sensible practical hatchback. The Yaris GR, meanwhile, is a super-rapid four-wheel drive hot hatch with rallying genes

James Wilson
Feb 5, 2020

Toyota has released details of its first-ever all-wheel-drive sports car, the GR Yaris. Set to launch in the second half of 2020, the hot Yaris supermini promises 264hp and 360Nm of torque. These are huge figures for a small car and thanks to standard-fit four-wheel drive, you can be sure that the Yaris will be able to use all of that power on the road.

The GR Yaris will enter into a performance hatchback market segment that is as hotly contested as ever. The great fun to drive Ford Fiesta ST has been the dominating power for years, but the Fiesta is neither four-wheel-drive nor inspired by rallying pedigree – which the GR Yaris is. Furthermore, the Fiesta simply can't compete in the power stakes.

Production numbers are expected to be low, with all models anticipated to focus on performance rather than comfort – let’s just say it won’t be the kind of car used to shuttle kids to and from hockey practice.

While Toyota’s GR Yaris is based on the new Yaris, it has been heavily re-engineered to handle the impressive power on tap. Fitting a high-output engine, beefy suspension and all-wheel-drive tech are just some of the headline improvements involved in transforming a sensible supermini into a hugely fast four-wheel drive hot hatchback.

For those wondering, “GR” stands for Gazoo Racing which is Toyota’s in-house performance division. For a long time, Toyota displayed zero interest in performance cars, but what with the GT 86 and Supra sports cars in its current model lineup and this latest hatchback rocket, things have changed.

To find out just how crazy the latest high-performance Toyota is going to be, keep reading below.

Quick facts

  • Launch set for second half of 2020
  • More than 260hp expected
  • Four-wheel-drive for maximum grip
  • Likely to be rather expensive
  • Three-doors only, and lightweight
  • Large brakes and sports suspension

Toyota GR Yaris specs, prices and delivery dates

Toyota is yet to confirm if there are any trims to choose from with the GR Yaris, but it is not uncommon for performance cars similar to this to be available in one traditional ‘trim’, complimented by a handful of performance-based optional extras.

Toyota has confirmed that there will be an optional Circuit Pack which brings two limited-slip differentials - which essentially help to ensure that power is sent to the wheels with the most grip available for the fastest and most controlled acceleration and cornering possible. Also, part of the same pack is tuned suspension (presumably for better handling on track), lightweight 18-inch alloy wheels and high-grip Michelin Pilot Sport 4s tyres.

Prices have yet to be confirmed, but due to the fact that the GR is unlike any other Yaris on sale (or any other Toyota for that matter) don’t expect this car to be cheap. Think in the ballpark of £35,000. UK sales are expected to start in the second half of 2020 and as manufacturing should be well underway by that point, deliveries shouldn’t be too far behind.

Toyota GR Yaris performance, engine and economy

The beating heart of Toyota’s new GR Yaris is a new 1.6-litre three-cylinder petrol engine that is claimed to produce 264hp and 360Nm of torque - huge amounts of punch for something so small and light. Toyota has developed the fast Yaris with its partner in rallying – Tommi Makinen Racing, which is named after a famous Finnish rally driver.

When looking at the specification, things get very high tech very quickly. Highlights include prolific use of lightweight materials in the body, such as carbon fibre this and that plus aluminium, a trick rear suspension setup and large front brakes with hefty calipers for gripping them hard.

To aid weight distribution, which is key when designing a fast but fun car, Toyota has put the battery in the boot and mounted the engine further back than would be in a standard Yaris for greater balance around corners. Available solely as a three-door, the sporty Yaris also has a lower roof-line than its standard siblings, which is to help it cut through the air better.

Toyota claims that the 2020 GR Yaris tips the scales at 1,280kg. For comparison, the Audi S1 (one of the only other four-wheel-drive speedy superminis ever made) weighs in at 1,315kg and offers similar low engine speed muscle but much less absolute power.

From a standing start, the GR Yaris is claimed to be capable of reaching 62mph in less than 5.5 seconds before hitting a top speed of 143mph. The car could go faster, but Toyota has decided to hold it back to a mere two-and-a-bit times the UK national speed limit. Toyota is yet to confirm official economy and emissions figures, but don’t expect the GR Yaris to be the poster child for “green” motoring – it has been designed to be fast after all.

Toyota GR Yaris rivals

The 2020 Toyota GR Yaris is not without rivals in the hot hatch sector. Due to its size, its most obvious rivals are the Ford Fiesta ST, Peugeot 208 GTi by PeugeotSport and Mini Hatchback John Cooper Works – all of which are fast, fun and well equipped.

At the same time, with the levels of performance expected from Toyota’s GR Yaris and prices expected to sit above the £30,000 mark, it is going to be up against hot hatches from the sector above, too.

This means cars such as the Honda Civic Type R (regarded by many as the best hot hatch currently on sale due to its speed and sharpness around corners), the new Ford Focus ST and Volkswagen Golf R will all be potential alternatives.

Ultimately, whether or not the new performance Yaris is the car to buy over its rivals will boil down to just how good it is to drive and what UK prices are like. That is, assuming of course, potential buyers are at peace with having to buy a three-door.

Toyota GR Yaris tech

While Toyota is yet to detail what driver convenience tech will be included as standard, it has stated that there will be some adjustment to how the four-wheel-drive system behaves. Drivers will have the choice of Normal, Sport and Track driving modes.

When driving in Normal mode, power is split 60% to the front and 40% to the rear, in Sport mode this changes to 30% front, 70% rear (which Toyota claims helps with fun-to-drive qualities) but in Track it offers an equal 50:50 split to help achieve fast lap times.

 

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