The 2020 Toyota GR Yaris Is a Tiny, 268-HP Ball of Rally-Bred Fury
In fact, it packs most powerful three-cylinder ever to hit production.
After years of watching the rest of the world pull handbrake turns, squeal tires around city blocks, and generally raise mayhem in Toyota's spicy GR special-edition hatches, we're hurting for something—anything—with the GR badge (Supra aside) to arrive on our shores. Bad news: Toyota just rubbed salt, squeezed a lemon, and dribbled some Tabasco on our wound for good measure with an all-new rally-inspired 2020 Toyota GR Yaris.
"Rally-inspired" is really underselling this new habanero-hot little hatch. Using performance technology derived directly from its successful WRC program, the spec sheet of the new GR Yaris reads like something from the 1990s when Japanese manufactures offered real-deal homologation specials to compete at the highest levels of rally competition. There's a good reason for this - it turns out this itty-bitty pocket rocket is a legit homologation special. Right off the bat, Toyota references this as "a homologation model born to win the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC)."
Powering this little monster is a 1.6-liter turbocharged three-cylinder spitting out a staggering 268 horsepower and 272 lb-ft of torque, making it the most powerful three-pot to hit production, ever. All this firepower rips to all four wheels through a six-speed manual transmission and Toyota's all-new "GR-Four" all-wheel-drive system managed by a multiplate-clutch center diff that offers three modes of Normal, Sport, and Track. This new all-wheel-drive system is one of the most advanced set-ups we've seen on the TNGA platform. Like most high-performance drivetrains, front-to-rear power split is determined by the selected driving mode; in Normal, it's 60:40, jumping to 30:70 in Sport mode. It's an even 50:50 in Track mode.
The chassis appears ready for the rigors of dirt-road shenanigans and track-day records with a full independent suspension and a general construction that required Toyota to build the GR Yaris "from scratch to achieve a high-rigidity body of highly refined balance while also optimizing front and rear suspension geometry." It's light, too; the hood, trunklid, and door panels are all aluminum, while the roof is carbon-reinforced plastic, bringing the total weight down to just 2,821 pounds. Compared to the regular Yaris (the U.S. Yaris is actually a different, Mazda 2-based car), the roofline is 3.6 inches lower.
Predictably, all this hardware results in some healthy performance figures. zero to 62 mph takes 5.5 seconds, and it won't stop accelerating until it smacks into the 143-mph top speed. Not enough go-fast? Buyers will do well to spec the optional "Circuit Pack" that includes front-and-rear Torsen limited-slip differentials, an upgraded suspension, 18-inch wheels, and Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires.
Want one? Yeah, you and everyone else. Unfortunately, the chances of this making it Stateside are essentially nil, considering the regular workaday TNGA Yaris isn't even offered here. We're stuck with our separate Yaris with all of 106 hp. If you do happen to live in Japan or Europe, pricing is going to start somewhere in the $36,000 range, so save your yen or euros, or earmark a kidney.