There was a time when every journalist used the term – “the future is bleak” when it comes to talking about performance cars. We all knew that technology was taking over the automotive world, and whilst there is no doubt that performance cars have gotten quicker and more efficient, we can all agree that there is a loss of soul.
But guess what guys, we are now in that fore-spoken future now. And as we move along in the timeline all of us have come to the realisation that we can’t fight that. In fact, this is amongst the reasons why car enthusiasts have stopped looking forward and start to appreciate the beauty of cars from the 90s and 2000s – the modern classics!
As a conglomerate and currently the largest automotive manufacturer in the world, Toyota has abandoned making performance cars for over two decades now. Thankfully though, under the leadership of Akio Toyoda today, the brand is back to attempt at delivering what we want – a driver’s car.
The GR Yaris!
What we car lovers want, honestly, is a little bit of flawed convenience. 3 pedals and a stick, sub-300hp packed into a small lightweight package of a car with some proper handling pedigree. With that set in mind, Toyota’s GR division set about to make just that. Oh and of course, with some help from Tommi Makinen Racing and the man himself who, as we all are aware, knows quite a bit in making a car go pretty fast on a tight rally course.
I’m also going to get the elephant in the room out of the way – there is no mistake that this is a bloody expensive package. RM286,896.00 in a small, almost impractical car that could serve little purpose to a normal motorist, and bearing a Toyota Yaris badge most definitely sounds crazy doesn’t it? With that out of the way, now please take that thought out and throw it out of your mind.
Power isn’t overwhelmingly out of this world. 261bhp from the most powerful production 3-cylinder engine courtesy of a 1.6-litre single-scroll turbocharged power unit. The mid-range is punchy, there’s much to enjoy the healthy delivery of power between 2500rpm to 6000rpm in stock form; perfect for daily access of performance. Now of course there are tuners starting to put work on this G16-GTS engine and soon, we’ll probably see more and more tuning parts that will make this engine more potent.
Where the money is at with the GR Yaris is how the chassis is pieced together. The part to love about this little hatch is, it is completely bespoke. The shape of the GR Yaris is barely shared with the original Yaris, because much of it is built from ground up for the WRC car that Toyota had developed for the 2020 rally season. As a result, the homologation programmed requires Toyota to build 25,000 units of this anGRY hatch, so they got to work on the development of the base it sits on.
Double wishbone suspension on the rear. Something unheard of in modern production cars because it is just makes it more expensive to mass production. But Toyota and Tommi Makinen Racing understood the performance potential in which it can unlock, lifting the priority for this suspension to be developed as part of the GR Yaris. This coupled to the GR-Four AWD system and Torsen Limited Slip Differential brings the GR Yaris back to a drive sensation that reminisces of the 90s and early 2000s generation of Rally-bred road performance cars. A feel that’s been missing for nearly 2 decades now.
Drive & Verdict
It’s a bespoke design. And the way this thing drives also has a lot to do with the way it looks. In the flesh – what I really love to begin with is the stance of this thing from the back. It’s so wide at the bottom with those flared arches, it looks like it’s got a widekit on it! The wheel base is short, and if you look at the whole design in detail, you’ll start to notice how all four wheels sit right out on the four edges of the car. And this all translates right down to the feel of the drive behind the wheel.
The whole car only weighs 1280kg, and you immediately get a sense of urgency with the steering as a driver, which let’s be honest, is something rare in modern day performance cars thanks to Electric Power Steering. It’s nimble yet sharp on the drive, and that’s also to do with the very short wheelbase. And the giggles and adoration of the drive when you’re in 3rd gear, mid-corner and finding the inspiration to explore more of the car’s potential. The more you give, the more the GR Yaris provides. What it really does as a car, well… is it makes you want to keep driving more!
On the hot seat, what you can enjoy is a mix of 90s driving enjoyment in a 2021 car. And that’s just at the tip of the whole icing. Yes, it is expensive and in many ways the GR Yaris can be pretty flawed as a car. But as a driving machine, it’s truly superb. The GR Yaris isn’t a car that you buy with your head. It’s a toy that you buy with your heart because the little boy inside you screams to relive the joy and sensation of driving a fun car. In a world where cars are getting so complicated in the chase of performance, the GR Yaris simplifies it all for the modern age.