10 things to know before buying a Toyota GR Yaris

The hot hatch market has seen a resurgence in recent years, particularly in markets like Europe, where newcomers like Hyundai have taken on the old guard like Ford and VW. As a result, the market in 2022 will be more diverse than it has been for a long time. However, what most of these hot hatches have in common is that they are juiced versions of their regular siblings, built on the same chassis, just with added horsepower and performance components.

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The Toyota GR Yaris is a little different from the rest. It was built from the ground up specifically for performance, with input from Toyota’s racing team and a focus on off-road capability. As a result, it’s easily one of the best hot hatches out there, a little rocket that’s the closest thing to a production rally car anyone can buy. They’re already so popular with buyers that there’s currently a year-long waiting list, but before you drop the cash and queue, here’s a quick rundown of what you need to know about them Toyota GR Yaris.

It’s a homologation special

Toyota GR Yaris black front 3/4
About Toyota UK

The main reason for the existence of the GR Yaris is homologation purposes, more specifically homologation for the World Rally Championship. Originally, Toyota planned to go into a competition car based on their regular Yaris, but bosses decided it wouldn’t be competitive enough.

Toyota GR Yaris black rear view
About Toyota UK

It wasn’t the right shape as the Yaris was only sold with five doors and rally regulations dictate you can’t fit aero devices on the rear doors of the car. So it was decided to develop a new platform with only three doors and from there the development of the GR Yaris started.

Developed in collaboration with Gazoo Racing

Toyota GR Yaris red front view
About Toyota UK

It wasn’t just the number of doors that Toyota’s Gazoo Racing rally team wanted to change; The roof was also a problem. On the regular Yaris, the rear roofline remains high to improve rear passenger headroom, but that wasn’t optimal for the rally car’s aerodynamics.

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Toyota GR Yaris red side view
About Toyota UK

The roof of the GR Yaris was tilted so that the air can flow better over the rear wing. To ensure there was no unwanted vibration through the car, the GR team also required the engine to be hydraulically mounted on one side, a costly addition normally only seen on supercars.

Nothing like a standard Yaris

Toyota GR Yaris red on the road
About Toyota UK

While it may share some visual similarities to the standard Yaris, there are very few parts shared between the two. The chassis is all new, taking the front half from the regular Yaris and the rear half from a CH-R crossover.

Red Toyota GR Yaris on a country road
About Toyota UK

It’s also longer, wider and lower than its standard sibling, and with the optional Circuit Pack it comes with Torsen differentials front and rear and sticky Michelin Pilot 4S tires. There are also 259 additional spot welds to increase the car’s overall structural rigidity.

It’s as easy as possible

Toyota GR Yaris white in the garage
About Toyota UK

Keeping a car’s weight down is always important in motorsport, and the GR Yaris uses a number of weight-saving measures to stay as thin as possible. The roof panel is carbon fiber, which is about 8 pounds lighter than a standard steel Yaris panel.

Toyota GR Yaris white tail in the garage
About Toyota UK

Many of the body panels are also aluminum, which helps save another 53 pounds compared to the standard car. The AWD system is also one of the lightest in a production car, being derived directly from the rally competition car.

It is excellent to drive

Toyota GR Yaris red side profile
About Toyota UK

This long list of technical improvements is all well and good, but the most important thing about any hot hatch is how it drives. hot cars haven’t had a chance to test drive any of these rally specials yet, but British Magazine top gear were very impressed with their test car and called it the “best Toyota”. [they’d] ever driven”.

Toyota GR Yaris red 3/4 rear view
About Toyota UK

Initial reviews from owners are equally raving, One said they were at Silverstone circuit on a track day and although it was the cheapest car there, it attracted more attention than the supercars, which cost ten times as much. So there’s no doubt that this is one of the best driver’s cars out there right now, period.

There is a proper manual handbrake

Interior view of the Toyota GR Yaris
About Toyota UK

It wouldn’t be a proper rally car without the ability to drive with the handbrake, and despite the fact that almost every modern car is now fitted with an electric handbrake, the GR Yaris remains dated.

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Interior of the Toyota GR Yaris
About Toyota UK

Not only is the handbrake fully manual, but engaging it temporarily cuts drive to the rear wheels. Combine this with the standard six-speed manual and you have a true enthusiast setup not available on any other hot hatch on the market.

It’s tight in the back

Toyota GR Yaris rear seats
About Toyota UK

The Yaris may be an excellent car to drive, but it’s not without its compromises. The sloping roofline means the rear seats are borderline unusable for taller adults, and since there’s no heated rear window, rearward visibility isn’t great in winter.

Toyota GR Yaris boots
About Toyota UK

It’s also less practical in terms of cargo space than a regular Yaris, with only 174 liters of available trunk space. However, anyone who buys a car primarily for its roomy seats and trunk probably shouldn’t be thinking about a hot hatch anyway.

It is available in most global markets…

Toyota GR Yaris black from garage
About Toyota UK

Toyota wasn’t sure how well the GR Yaris would sell and to ensure they met their sales target of 2,500 units a year they put it up for sale in most major global markets. It is available in Japan, Europe, Australia and much of Southeast Asia including Indonesia and the Philippines.

Toyota GR Yaris black rear from garage
About Toyota UK

It’s also available in select Central and South American markets, including Mexico and Argentina. Ironically, demand was so strong that dealers in some markets had to temporarily suspend orders to allow the factory to keep up with demand.

…but not the USA or Canada

Toyota GR Yaris on the road with signposts
About Toyota UK

So it’s available in almost every major automotive market in the world… but unfortunately not in the US or Canada. Toyota pulled the Yaris from North America in 2020 due to poor sales, and with that, the possibility of the GR Yaris ever coming to America disappeared.

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Toyota GR Yaris on a wet road
About Toyota UK

It’s not all bad news, however, as the company recently announced that its larger hot hatch, the GR Corolla, would go on sale in the US. It’s set to arrive in 2023, and it looks like it will It could be just as exciting to drive as the GR Yaris.

Prices are reasonable but not cheap

Toyota GR Yaris accelerates on the street
About Toyota UK

It’s worth remembering that the price of a new standard Yaris starts at around £16,000 ($20,965) in the UK, making it one of the cheapest new cars on offer. The GR Yaris is almost double that, priced at over £31,000 ($40,620).

Toyota GR Yaris red side view
About Toyota UK

That puts it roughly in line with the VW Golf GTI and Renault Megane RS, two of its main competitors. It’s still a pretty big chunk for such a small car, but as years of waiting lists have proven, it’s a very reasonable price for such a uniquely capable rally pocket rocket.

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