Small car, big fun

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Small car, big fun

Small car on the outside, rally car on the inside: The Toyota GR Yaris is the street version of the World Rally Championship racer.

Widened body and large air intakes: the GR Yaris is clearly recognizable from the outside.

“Race on Sunday, sell on Monday” is a common wisdom in the automotive industry.

According to this, successes in motorsport boost business – in addition to the technical development that motorsport drives, one of the most important arguments for a brand’s involvement in motorsport.

So that the image can also be successfully transported from the racing track to the street, a street model is needed that looks credibly similar to the real racer and also uses similar technology as far as this is possible. The other way around, the manufacturer also needs a suitable road model as a basis in order to be able to build the best possible racing car – a so-called homologation model.

With the new GR Yaris, Toyota is killing two birds with one stone: The sportiest Yaris transports the brand’s rally successes – in 2019 the Estonian rally driver Ott Tanak won the world championship title in a Toyota, and Elfyn Evans is also leading the current season on a Toyota – believable in the showrooms. In addition, the new homologation model offers better basic conditions for the race engineers than a normal Yaris. You can see that at first glance: while the more civil Yaris versions are only available as a five-door, the sports model comes as a three-door – and with a significantly flattened roof line. At the rear, the roof is set a full nine centimeters lower than on the standard small car, which allows the race engineers to install a better-functioning spoiler on the competition car. In addition, the “GR” was widened by 6 centimeters and lengthened by 5.5 centimeters.

The improvements and changes went so far that almost nothing remained of the conventional Toyota Yaris. Only the front and rear lights and the exterior mirrors are still identical. To optimize the weight, the roof was made of carbon fiber and the doors and hood were made of aluminium. The floor assembly was also redesigned and equipped with rear axle parts from the larger Corolla – so that all-wheel drive can now also be installed.

Small car, big fun-small

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Small car, big fun-small

Small car, big fun-small

Small car, big fun-small

Small car, big fun-small

Toyota GR Yaris

Traction on any surface

All-wheel drive ushered in a new era in rallying in the mid-1980s: cars with 4×4s made it onto the podium almost from the start because they applied their engine power to the ground much better – regardless of whether it was made of asphalt, gravel or snow. In the meantime, all-wheel drive has become almost indispensable in rallying and is also a matter of course in almost all high-performance road cars. Toyota has developed a completely new all-wheel drive system for the GR Yaris, which can variably distribute the power to the two axles. The driver can adjust the power distribution using a rotary switch in the cockpit.

In normal mode, 60% of the power goes to the front axle in order to be as safe as possible on the road in everyday life. In the “Sport” setting, 70% of the power goes to the rear axle, which makes the little one remarkably agile and active. The “Track” setting distributes the engine power equally to both axles – ideal for best times on the circuit or rally track.

For an additional charge of CHF 4,900, the “Circuit Pack” includes a self-locking differential on the front and rear axles. This option is worthwhile for those who want to fully enjoy the GR Yaris. The differentials prevent an excessive speed difference between the left and right wheel on an axle; This means that the wheel on the inside of the curve cannot spin. Instead, the power is used to push the car even better around the corner. Equipped like this, the small Toyota is one of the big ones when it comes to driving fun on winding roads.

It feels uniquely compact, drives extremely precisely and playfully and is easy to control at all times – even if the electronic driving aids are completely deactivated on a closed track.

A newly developed engine provides the right propulsion. The 1.6-liter turbo is the most powerful three-cylinder in a production car and can be used in unmodified form in WRC2, the second-highest rally category. Its maximum torque of 360 Nm is only at 3000 revolutions, but the engine builds up pressure even before that – and this makes it extremely powerful in a small car that weighs only 1280 kg.

The sporty overall package is rounded off by a crisp 6-speed manual transmission with short shift travel and matching, revised pedals, which also make sporty downshifting with double-declutching possible – provided the driver does not want to leave this to the electronics at the push of a button.

Toyota GR Yaris

Engine: 3 cyl. Turbo 1618cc

Power: 261 hp/360 Nm

Drive: 6-speed manual, 4×4

L×W×H: 3995×1800×1455mm

trunk volume: 174L

Weight: 1280kg

0-100km/h: 5.5 sec.

Vmax: 230km/h

Consumption plant (WLTP): 8.3L/100km

Price: from 37900 francs

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