Toyota GR Yaris revealed in full – return of the homologation special

One of most sought after hot hatchbacks of 2020 has finally been revealed: the Toyota GR Yaris
Toyota GR Yaris revealed in full – return of the homologation special

Toyota has officially unveiled the GR Yaris at this year’s Tokyo Auto Salon, a turbocharged, all-wheel drive three-door hot hatchback that will be the second model in Toyota’s high-performance GR range, and the homologation model for its 2020 WRC world rally car.

Powering the GR Yaris is an all-new, bespoke 1618cc turbocharged three-cylinder engine that is mounted lower down and further back than in the standard Yaris models. The unit features a part-machined intake port, four valves per cylinder and a single-scroll turbocharger. Peak power is quoted at 257bhp, with torque rated at 360Nm. These outputs make the GR Yaris the most powerful three-cylinder model in the world. Toyota quotes a 0-100kmph time of 5.5sec and an electronically limited top speed of 229kmph.

Power is then transmitted via a six-speed manual transmission (there is no automatic or dual-clutch option available) to a four-wheel drive system that distributes torque between the axles via a central coupling, as opposed to an on-demand Haldex style system found in other small all-wheel drive hot hatchbacks like the late Audi S1. Torque split between the axles is variable depending on a selected driver mode with Normal, Sport and Track modes dividing drive 60:40, 30:70 or 50:50 in each of the modes respectively.

Optional Torson limited-slip differentials on both front and rear axles are also available bundled in a Circuit pack that combines these with a different set of 18-inch forged alloy wheels, wrapped in 225/40R18 Michelin Super Sport tyres and a more track-oriented suspension tune.

Despite sharing a name with the standard Yaris , this three door-only model features a bespoke body that’s significantly wider and 91mm lower than the standard model. The new body has been designed with rallying in mind with new suspension pick-up points, a wider track and a double-wishbone rear axle all bespoke to the GR Yaris. The body itself incorporates lightweight materials to keep the weight down to 1280kg, with a carbonfibre polymer roof skin, aluminium doors, bonnet and boot lid.

Why go to all the effort and expense of re-engineering things such as the roofline and axles for a homologation special? Gazoo Racing’s 2020 Yaris WRC car differs so much from the standard Yaris that this homologation model will need to be produced. In contrast to old Group N WRC rules, which required a limited number of closely related road-going examples to be produced in order to comply (think early Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution or Subaru WRX), today’s rules allow a wider chasm between the road and rally versions. However, venture outside these limitations, as Toyota Gazoo Racing has done, and a large production run is required to homologate the race car.

As such, the GR Yaris will not be limited to just a few hundred units, instead Toyota will need to produce a full 25,000 next year in order to comply with WRC regulations. Customer cars aren’t expected to hit the road until later this year, and pricing is still to be confirmed.

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