Wheels (Australia)

Toyota GR Yaris



IT’S AS IF the Yaris took a trip at an ’80s WRC after party with the Audi Quattro Sport, Lancia Delta HF Integrale and Austin Metro 6R4, emerging days later still jacked and with only its original lights, mirrors and some dashboard bits intact. Everything else about this Gazoo Racing homologati­on project is unique – from the aero-enhanced three-door, four-seater body, significan­tly more coupe-like (think original Honda CRX) carbonfibr­e-roofed silhouette and aluminium doors, bonnet and hatch, to a Corolla/C-HR rear platform, complete with multi-link suspension.

At the other end is a fierce 200kW/370Nm 1.6-litre three-pot turbo/six-speed manual combo, providing a dazzling 156kW/ tonne power-to-weight ratio and 5.2sec 0-100km/h capability.

Permanent all-wheel-drive tech includes a 50/50 front/ rear torque-split Track mode, 30/70 front/rear in Sport and 70/30 front/rear in Normal, though 100 percent either way is possible, backed up by beefy brakes.

Ultimately, splitting the GR from the regular Yaris is a no-brainer for Wheels COTY. How could we not? Insanely fun on dirt in skilled hands and yet still flattering even with an ape behind the wheel, the GR upends the (admittedly much cheaper) Fiesta ST/Polo GTI hegemony with its raw and rabid power delivery, decisive gearshift and finely spaced ratios that allow the driver to exploit the frenetic little funster’s fruity, flexible powerband.

Precision steering, handing verve and endless traction further underline GR’s singular vision, with the multi-mode AWD providing nuanced sideways scenery once this allweather wonder’s grip eventually releases. Supernatur­al fun aplenty awaits along with big smiles.

Conversely, there’s disarming docility, decent comfort, quality materials and full safety tech. And the frameless doors, ‘Shooting Brake’ glasshouse, low ceiling and cramped legroom are pure coupe tropes. A tiny boot, dreary instrument­s, nosebleed seating and missing return-position memory during rear-seat entry/egress annoy, in this otherwise incandesce­nt motoring experience.

If the $50K ask irks, consider that Subaru’s Impreza WRX in 1994 cost $80K in today’s dollars, putting the sub-supercar GR Yaris into sharp focus.

It’s the affordable, sensationa­l, unhinged WRC weapon we thought we’d never see in this millennium.

“It’s comparable to the Honda Civic Type R for driving experience... and enjoyment” ALEX INWOOD

 ??  ?? Editor Campbell wonders if it’s too late to get a WRC gig after playing in the dirt. Yes, it’s as much fun as it looks
Editor Campbell wonders if it’s too late to get a WRC gig after playing in the dirt. Yes, it’s as much fun as it looks
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