When the boffins at Gazoo Racing want more fun... you get the GR Yaris Rallye
RARER than hen’s teeth, the 2021 Toyota GR Yaris Rallye is a car you can’t really hide in.
The fired up version of Gazoo Racing’s rally homologation special attracts more than its fair share of attention.
The GR Yaris Rallye is the full packet of biscuits version of Akido Toyoda’s vision to build a rally car that could compete and win on the global stage that is the World Rally Championship.
Rally is nothing new to Toyota though, and neither is off road endurance racing. It took part in a gruelling 19-day endurance event through the Australian outback in 1957, where it ran under the Tosco banner. It’s also competed in multiple rally championships.
Fast track (see what we did there) to today’s GR Yaris Rallye; fitted with the most powerful 3-cylinder 1.6-litre single-scroll ball-bearing turbocharged engine in production by any manufacturer.
It produces an incredible 200kW of power and 370Nm of torque, coupled to a 6-speed manual transmission, a combination that sensationally electrifies your senses. We’re getting goose bumps just thinking about it.
Toyota’s GR-FOUR continuous all-wheel drive system that adjusts torque power to each wheel is also on board (as it is with the standard GR Yaris); the result is astonishing traction and responsiveness in real-world road driving conditions.
As the driver, you have three driving modes to select from, including Normal, Sport and Track, with each adjusting the balance of torque distributed between the front and rear wheels.
We had such a hoot driving through the Royal National Park too, and with the motor sport rich tech built into this car, it’ll have you channelling four-time WRC champ Tommi Makinen. In case you don’t know, he played a role in the development of this variant.
The ride inside the Yaris Rallye is rigid, to say the least, and you’ll feel every bump when driving it, particularly at speed. But it’s also one of the most agile and nimble vehicles we have had the pleasure of driving, with exceptional on-road stability.
That comes thanks to a number of key upgrades that are exclusive to this model, including circuit-tuned GR suspension, Torsen limited-slip differentials on the front and rear axles, and an ultra-light high-performance wheel-and-tyre package.
It also grabs improved front brake ducting for better cooling. It all makes for a super capable car, that moves through traffic on busy motorways with ease. We could spot gaps in traffic and with a quick downshift, jump into an almost non-existent space.
It accelerates quickly thanks to its overall light weight, and it eats up tight twisty corners and longer straightaways. A genuine driver’s car, it’s hard not to grin when you’re behind the wheel.
Hard braking is made easy too with the ventilated and grooved disc brakes, with those big red callipers, that stand out from behind the 18-inch BBS black alloy wheels, with Michelin Pilot Sport tyres providing maximum grip to the road.
The stunning driving dynamics are also thanks to improved chassis balance, achieved through repositioning the engine further back into the body, and housing the battery in the boot. The GR Yaris Rallye accelerates to 100km/h in just 5.2 seconds.
The exterior styling is stunning too. Let’s be completely honest; we take great care in washing our test vehicles before our photo shoots and this Yaris, with its carbon fibre roof, lightweight body panels and unique look had everyone stopping for a look.
Inside, we were greeted by Ultrasuede racing seats with red trim and the GR logo embedded in the headrest. They provide a comfortable ride, and the front seats are also heated, for those cold winter mornings.
The leather wrapped steering wheel feels just right to drive with, and there’s 60:40 split-folding rear seats should more usable space in the boot be required (not that it’s massive, at all). A head-up display provides driving information.
There’s also a 7.0-inch touchscreen display, paired to the premium JBL audio system. It comes with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Bluetooth. There’s a host of active safety features too, including Toyota’s pre-collision setup.
It sports a multi-stage frontal collision warning system, and the GR Yaris Rallye also comes with road sign assist, active cruise control, and lane departure assist with steering assist.
We found ourselves trying to disengage the internal exhaust sound (which is a real noise rather than a fake one), that’s piped into the car, but after the first couple of days of living with it, we started to like it. It grows on you; a reminder of the car’s performance heart.
What’s missing though is some snap, crackle and pop. The actual external exhaust note really lacks that oomph, like you’d find in say, the Hyundai i30 N. Overall, the cabin is minimalist, yet still provides all the comforts you’d expect from a modern day vehicle.
It’s a pretty good every day driver, that’s for sure, and in driver-centric track attack mode, it’s a genuine weekend warrior. A true hot hatch, it’s reignited our passion for a driving experience that thrills.
The GR Yaris Rallye exterior is distinguished by bespoke Frosted White crystal pearl paint (its only colour option) and bright red brake callipers bearing the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing logo (as we mentioned earlier).
It’s priced from $54,500 plus on-roads and a uniquely numbered GR Yaris Rallye plaque adorns the centre console with an additional Rallye badge on the rear hatch. The GR Yaris Rallye comes with a 5-year unlimited kilometre warranty and capped price servicing.
Here’s the thing though, Toyota Australia has actually run out of cars. To ensure they can deliver all of the 2021 GR Yaris Rallye vehicles already sold, they’ve temporarily paused availability. Don’t panic though, as soon as they secure more, you’ll be able to buy one.
This story was originally published on Exhaust Notes Australia, and written by Scott Gravolin. All pricing within the story is based on Australian Dollar (AUD).