Toyotas are typically practical and dependable but this hatch is something else
This is not your gran’s bowls club Yaris. It’s more powerful than a Subaru WRX, all-wheel-drive and wrapped in an aggressive three-door body. But does it work for a family of four?
JULES: It says Yaris but I don’t believe it. This one’s been living at the gym on a diet of spinach and steroids.
IAIN: What a little weapon. The GR – Gazoo Racing – Yaris exists because World Rally Championship regulations insist road going versions of WRC racers must be produced.
JULES: So we performance-loving drivers benefit?
IAIN: Oh yes. Homologation specials they’re called, and history shows ws most become collectors’ items.
JULES: I love it. It’s like a little toy. Such an angry front end, impossibly y fat rear and tiny dimensions.
IAIN: Outside, it shares only its ts front and rear lights and mirrors ors with a normal Yaris. It has a carbon fibre roof and the boot, bonnet and doors are lightweight aluminium.
JULES: Race stuff is expensive. e. How much for this baby?
IAIN: Nearly $50,000 before onroads if you can get one.
JULES: Ouch. What are its rivals? als?
IAIN: Size-wise a Ford Fiesta ST or Hyundai i20n – both are much cheaper, but front-drive e and way down on power. The larger Hyundai i30n or Renault ult Megane RS are similarly priced, d, but not all-wheel-drive.
THE LIVING SPACE
JULES: I thought it’d be stripped ed inside, but it’s quite sensible. IAIN: Except for the racy touches. I love the little steering wheel, leather short-throw manual gear knob, b, proper handbrake for gravel hairpins and well bolstered suede and leather sports seats.
JULES: You don’t suffer in here. There’s dualzone climate control, JBL audio, heated seats and a seven-inch screen with Apple Carplay/ Android Auto, satnav and rear camera.
IAIN: The door tops are too-hard plastic, as is a central bin for your phone. This needs to be rubber – my phone flies out when cornering.
JULES: The driving position is excellent. My feet fall perfectly on the aluminium pedals.
IAIN: Not for me. The seat doesn’t drop anywhere near low enough. I want a race car driving position, not an SUV position. On track days, I’d struggle to fit in with a crash helmet.
JULES: You should try the back. That sloping roof and tiny windows make it really claustrophobic.
IAIN: My head was wedged on the roof. Tiny rear seats are better than nothing. It makes transporting kids a possibility.
JULES: Oh, it’s so much fun. That engine is so fruity and a this car wants to race at every opportunity.
IAIN: IAIN I never knew I could love a Toyota Toyo so much. It’s only a threecylinder cylin engine, but there’s an impossible impo 200kw and 370Nm. How? How
JULES: JU I don’t care. Of the three drive d modes, Track is most obnoxious. Such a bad boy rorty sound from those giant rear tail pipes.
IAIN: But can it be a daily driver? I’d say just about. In Normal mode it isn’t too noisy, the ride is harsh but not spineshattering and there are enough cabin comforts.
JULES: Not for me. I’d just want to rally it the whole time. I don’t think I could contain myself in traffic every day.
IAIN: It can grate on the highway: at 110km/h, the engine spins at about 3000rpm.
JULES: Er, where’s the boot?
IAIN: It’s a shoebox. This isn’t your shopping car. In more relevant news, you can fold the rear seats and fit a spare set of wheels and tyres for the track.
JULES: A winding mountain pass please, or a dirt rally stage.
IAIN: Or a tight and twisty racetrack. You can’t own a GR Yaris and not test it in such a way.
JULES: On our favourite test road it blew my mind. It’s breathtaking how it builds speed so brutally and then steers so quickly.
IAIN: There’s so much grip, steering feedback and all-wheel-drive surety. On the right road it feels like a proper race car. Change drive modes and the torque shifts its bias between front and rear wheels, changing the driving experience. I love it.
JULES: And 100km/h in a little over five seconds? That’s supercar stuff of a few decades ago.
IAIN: Let’s rejoice it’s a manual gearbox only. Totally involving. With so many sold, it shows there’s still an appetite for these driver’s cars.