Toyota GR Yaris confirmed for South Africa

Countdown to the launch of a rally car for the road

Reuben Van Niekerk
hot hatch
Yaris GR

Homologation special is not a term used often these days, but it is the moniker given to models that are built in limited numbers for manufacturers to meet the minimum requirements to go racing with a car that according to the rules of that specific series needs to be based on a production model.

The World Rally Championship has such a rule and to comply Toyota will be building 25 000 special models globally dubbed the GR Yaris and a couple of those will be making their way to South Africa next year. GR stands for Gazoo Racing, which is the company’s motorsport division under which they compete in events like the Dakar rally, 24 hours of Le Mans and the World Rally Championship.


What makes it special?

At the heart of the GR Yaris is a new 200kW, 370Nm 1.6-litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol engine, and the world’s most powerful mass-produced three-cylinder power plant. Along with an all-new platform, unique three-door body, aerodynamic styling and a new GR-Four permanent all-wheel-drive system, the GR Yaris boasts an impressive power to weight ratio of 156kW per tonne and can sprint from 0-100km/h in 5.2 seconds.


The GR Yaris is the first all Toyota sports car and the company’s first homologation model for WRC competition since the Celica GT-Four ended production in 1999. This model brings motorsport technology directly to the road through the combined design and engineering skills of Toyota’s title-winning Toyota Gazoo Racing and WRC teams.


Made for motorsport

As a bespoke three-door, the low tapered side profile and wide squat stance of the GR Yaris mark it as a serious performance car. Sharing just three exterior components with the regular Yaris hatch, headlights, taillights and mirrors, this Yaris is a truly special car with a sculpted, aerodynamically designed exterior.

Featuring a Toyota first carbon-fibre roof and aluminium panels for the bonnet, doors and tailgate it tips the scales at 1280kg. The lightweight, compact turbocharged engine adopts motorsport technology including multi oil-jet piston cooling, machined intake ports and large-diameter exhaust valves. It is also equipped with direct and port fuel injection, a single scroll ball-bearing turbocharger, an aluminium oil cooler and a large capacity water pump and air cleaner. Mated to a six-speed intelligent manual gearbox with rev matching on up and down shifts, it is capable of a top speed of 230km/h.

 A unique chassis that combines the front end of the Yaris platform with the rear of the Corolla platform accommodates the unique suspension design and GR-Four all-wheel-drive system. Driver selectable AWD settings include Normal, which sends 40 percent of power to the rear wheels, Track, which splits power equally, and Sport, which sends 70 percent to the rear wheels. The system can also adjust the torque split automatically based on driver inputs, vehicle behaviour and road or track conditions.

Every element of the fully independent front and rear suspension setup has been optimised for performance, including high-response shock absorbers. Front MacPherson struts are more rigid while newly developed knuckles and stiffer bushes ensure maximum control and stability. A bespoke multi-link rear suspension is fitted with new upper arms and stiffer settings for optimal responsiveness, handling and traction during high-speed cornering.

 Large 356mm two-piece ventilated discs with four-piston callipers provide stopping power at the front, with 297mm ventilated discs and two-piston callipers at the rear, both designed to provide confident, stable and fade-resistant braking performance.


Driver focused interior

The driver-focused cabin marks GR Yaris as a serious performance car with a small-diameter leather-wrapped steering wheel and fingertip controls, leather-wrapped short-throw gear shifter and handbrake and aluminium pedals.

A large speedo and rev counter sit either side of a 4.2-inch multi-information display that offers an array of details including a boost gauge and gearshift indicators. Premium sports front seats offer support and comfort thanks to large bolsters.


Local introduction

Toyota South Africa plans to introduce the GR Yaris in the middle of 2021. Detailed specifications, pricing and model line-up information will be released closer to the time.