I was star-struck when I saw it. The new Toyota GR-Yaris.

If you’ve been living under a rock and haven’t yet heard, there’s going to be an homologation special Yaris. When the all-new Yaris was first shown a few months ago I was impressed. I wasn’t massively interested, but I thought it was quite a good looking little car. I wasn’t drawn to it though. Until now.

Gazoo Racing and Tommi Makinen Racing have come together to produce something really quite special. To start off with, it’s not even a normal Yaris shell. It might look like a Yaris, but it’s got a lower roof line and only three doors. So maximum cool points already. But then it just gets better. It’s got a three-banger. And we all know that three-pot engines sound all fizzy, frantic, and generally awesome. Although it’s only 1.6 litres, of course it’s turbocharged. Which means within 24 hours of the first ones being sold someone will have it making mad wooshy noises. If we look at the numbers 257 bhp and 265 lb-ft of torque. Oh, and a six-speed manual.

You can actually see in the photos that it’s much wider, especially at the back than a standard Yaris. So it looks cool, and underneath there’s double wishbone rear suspension, so there’s some decent engineering going into it. And… it’s all wheel drive. Jaw. Drops. And it can send 70% of the drive to the back. Jaw. On floor.

But that’s not all folks, because if you opt for the Circuit Pack, which is where I assume many of these will end up, you will get limited slip differentials on both axles. It’s just perfect. For added lightness, and added repair costs when you fling it into a ditch at the side of a B-road, there’s lots and lots of aluminium and carbon fibre.

It takes a lot for me to really get excited about a brand new car but flipping heck I want one of these things. There are very few new cars I actually want, Mazda MX-5, Honda S660, Hyundai i30 N, Volkswagen Up GTi, and now the GR Yaris gets added to that list.

When I first heard the words ‘homologation special’, I thought limited numbers, too expensive, but no. Autocar is saying five-figure production numbers and Evo says they have to make at least 25,000 to meet homologation rules, so they’ll be obtainable. In Japan, they’re going for under £28,000, so i30 N Performance kind of prices, and although the Hyundai has more power and it’s a bigger car, this somehow feels more special with its 3-pot 4-wheel drive-ness. And you get to tell people you’re driving an homologation rally car. Perfect. Although in Britain you might want to add a few grand to that price. Also, Toyota claim 0-60 in 5.5 seconds, a smidge quicker than the i30 N.

Another thing Autocar says is that it’s like a Yaris has spent months gulping down protein shakes, but I’m sorry, we’re at proper steroids levels here. The kind of thing that your family start getting worried about. Oh yeah, the new Yaris is going down to the gym and doing nothing but taking pictures of itself while tensing… then tearing up a rally stage.

The bloke who engineered this, Naohiko Saito, is an absolute mad-man. He’s proud of the fact that it’s so light you can bend the bumper with one finger. Additionally, Saito says the engine is the lightest and most powerful 1.6 litre production engine in the world. The ride height is fixed. To save weight. There isn’t a centre diff. To save weight. With the Circuit Pack you get forged wheels. To save weight. The entire car community just got up and applauded. This is perfect.

But I think the best thing about the car is gonna be seeing them on the road. Because yes they’ll be rare. But think who’s driving them. Behind the wheel will be a person like you and me. Nobody is going to accidentally end up in a GR Yaris. No posers will end up in a GR Yaris. Only petrol heads are going to buy them, and that’s great. If you see a Fiesta ST or any BMW M-car. There’s a good chance they aren’t going to be car people. But I can guarantee that every single person that will drive one of these will know exactly what a Torsen differential is.

I just really want to drive a turbo, 3 pot, 1300kg, all-wheel drive rally car. The internet has just been an enormous circle jerk for the last few days but for very good reason. These little things are going to be immense. But there are a few journalists who seem a bit concerned. Ollie Kew of Top Gear thinks it might be a bit too easy, the prototype was too well-behaved and well-engineered to be scary fun, comparing it more to a Golf R than a Mitsubishi Evo, but is that just a reflection of modern motoring? Well, we’ll just have to find out once people start buying them.

Ollie Kew’s article for Top Gear:


James Attwood’s articles for Autocar:



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