Every now and then mainstream manufacturers turn to their wild side to produce something a little special. Something that sets them apart to show that they don’t just make cars for families, or the eco-conscious. Something that shows that deep down, they haven’t gone soft.
It’s been years since Toyota has done so, with the last truly authentic ground-up development being the Celica GT-Four. However, things are about to change for the Japanese brand loved by so many South Africans.
Enter the Toyota GR Yaris.
Developed by Toyota Gazoo Racing, this special edition will only have 25,000 production units for the entire world, with 60 coming to South Africa.
This car was developed for the 2020 World Rally Circuit. But with the coronavirus pandemic putting the brakes on most sports events last year, Toyota thankfully decided to build a street-legal version. However, don’t be fooled – this machine has rally DNA hardcoded into every nut, bolt and panel.
The GR Yaris utilises a Corolla rear frame, fused with the Yaris front end. The short wheel base and wide frame allow the GR Yaris to be one of the most responsive Toyota’s to drive in recent memory.
The GR Yaris is here to give you a shot of adrenalin, dispensed with every pump of the pedal, with 200kW and 370Nm generated from a turbocharged 1.6l, 3 Cylinder engine. An intelligent, pre-tuned All Wheel Drive System can be split into three driving modes for maximum attack, including a sport mode which allows 70% of the power to be sent to the rear wheels.
Unlike almost anything performance-related nowadays, the Gazoo Racing hot hatch gets a manual 6-speed transmission and manual hydraulic handbrake.
Sharing only two components with its ordinary counterpart, i.e the headlight and taillights, weight and dynamics were given the rally treatment as well. A carbon fibre polymer roof keeps the car’s centre of gravity low, with aluminium panels to aid in weight reduction. A fully independent suspension, as well as stiffened shocks and springs, allow the GR Yaris to handle like its on rails without the sacrifice of comfort.
All of this culminates into a 0-100km/h dash in less than 5.2 seconds, all the way to a top speed of 230km/h.
Inside, the GR Yaris maintains a sense of purpose. Straight to the point analogue dials, supportive WRC inspired bucket seats and all the necessities one would ever need for the 21st Century.
The Yaris will be available in 2 different forms for the SA market. Standard trim includes features like 18-inch Alloy wheels enclosed in Dunlop Sport Maxx, tyres, a split dual exhaust system, with active noise control.
For the more hard-core and enthusiastic rally fans, a Circuit Pack will also be available which will add in a front and rear Limited Slip Differential, stickier Michelin Pilot Sports tyres, as well as an even further tuned suspension to allow for more daring cornering.
The GR Yaris should be landing in SA for sales during the first half 2021. Prices have yet to be announced by Toyota South Africa