Not your usual shopping trolley.
Should you consider the everyday Yaris somewhat tepid, yet find the shape appealing, Toyota can offer you an alternative. And should you choose to shell out the old fashioned way of (well over) twenty thousand pounds for, let’s be honest, a city based shopping car; for a wedge more folding, one could be firmly ensconced in this pocket rocket that will flash past the shops. Unlock your inner rally driver, Gazoo Racing style.
Toyota’s coffers are large enough to not only allow their extensive range, but also to indulge the whims of boss, Akio Toyoda. Himself a competent helmsman, Akio has been known to remove racing attire, don his suit and enter the boardroom to woo over those habitually concerned accountants.
The history of Toyota and Lexus is littered with their propensity to spend immense amounts of money on projects; Yaris GR contains no input from other manufacturers, causing those red biro hero’s to wince at the surmounting invoice pile. Now consider Yaris GR contains a blended chassis; sections of the TNGA-B and -C series (a la Corolla) along with far from cheap performance enhancing upgrades whilst circulating around the £30,000 range. Enough to make not only the bean counters but the quotidian Yaris and rivals cover their faces against the flying gravel. They appear not to be able to build ‘em fast enough.
Suezawa’s definition of the athlete in the starting blocks was lauded upon the wrong version – the GR releases the altogether different kind of athlete – the inner Evans, Ogier and Rovanpera onto the paying public, becoming quite the media darling in the process.
Casting out the hybrid, the space now filled under the unassuming bonnet is a three cylinder 1618cc petrol engine (topped by a red flash of plastic) with a single scroll turbo. Developing a faintly ludicrous 257bhp alongside 360 Newton metres, the car maxes out at 142mph. The all important ease of acceleration, to both rally fraternity and enthusiastic supporters of the manual six speed gearbox cleaves an impressive five second zero to sixty. There’s some electrical assistance in the form of a button marked iMT, the auto-matching of revs for downshifts should your heel and toe methodology not be to Röhrl standards.
All that go must eventually slow; those brake discs measure 365mm, larger and heavier than fellow GR flyer, the Supra. Ventilated, spiral fins, four pot calipers (naturally painted red on Circuit Pack versions) surely causing salivation with those who worship such names as Sainz or Toivinen – or maybe not. For this is the modern face of rallying.
An attempt to to introduce those maybe unsure that Toyota dwells in the forest or gravel stage of the World Rally Championship but with less aerodynamic addenda. That Toyota have built this Special Stage infused bolide suggests not only the inherent demand but also the lucrative customer rallying and racing side of proceedings. Fellow rivals Ford generate a fortune converting a standard Fiesta into a rally weapon according to the relevant regulations.
Yaris GR comes with 4WD as standard. From the figure hugging seats, using the digits orders the gear train characteristics. Normal (push the button!) lends a 40:60 power spilt, bias to the front. Click Sport changes this to 70:30, rear bias. Track being the balance, 50:50. Suspension upfront derives from MacPherson’s strut with trailing double wishbones aft. The standard and Convenience Pack models contain an open differential. Enter an extra £3.5k into the game slot accesses the Circuit Pack, Torsen limited slip differential, torque vectoring power and braking distribution alongside instant bragging rights.
Toyota’s website mentions the car’s weight accordingly; 1,280 Kgs kerb, 1,305 max-kerb and 1,645 GVW with four passengers aboard and genuinely, bracketing the following word, (people.) Wriggle room is wholeheartedly different from the city car and for those blessed with excellent vision, this is the only three door Yaris available.
Driver and a single front passenger can exist as Elfyn Evans and co-driver Scott Martin would. The rear area suited better for detritus storage over human forms. The boot is small, enough perhaps for a bag containing a change of underwear. Dropping the standard 60:40 split fold rear seat opens up the 174 litre space to, again, quoting Toyota’s site, enough room to transport four spare 18” tyres.
The ability to afford such a car warrants that spare rubber be brought along for those typical track day adventures; turn up on your Michelin good-un’s, swop over to the (potentially) cheaper boots to hoon around on and when done, store the shredded rubber, baked-on dusty wheels in the back. Best remember to bring some petrol money too; the tank is but 50 litres. AutoCropley managed a test worst of 15.7mpg.
But upon replacing the intact rubber, you can depend on the car happily burbling home in motorway traffic or tearing up that favoured B-road because this is a Toyota, with that warranty. Talking of which, the oil, plugs and points need fettling every 6,000 miles. Surely a small price to pay for a stertorous sounding beast?
To the sound of the oil pan scraping the gravel we hasten to the mundane side of Yaris life – colours remain priced as the city version but for GR, lesser choice. Free, solid white or for £900, Precious Black, Scarlet Fire and white pearlescent – that’s it. The roof is carbon fibre reinforced plastic as are the bumpers, which a finger can easily press inward, never mind a bollard or hay bale. There’s no rear screen wiper and in foul weather the rearward view isn’t great, scantly helped by blacked out quarter windows. But when did any rally driver use their mirrors for anything but checking the cut of their jib?
Even with such technical wizardry tucked away, reviewers warmly mention the old school feel of the GR, as if the car stems from the time when Burns, Mäkinen or McRae took centre stage in Japanese saloons. Added modernity allows the GR to be used everyday. But should you want one instantly, prepare to stump up considerably more than list price. And be prepared for the value halving in four years.
The GR smashes any impressions of Toyota being a stick in the mud; hurling the stick and more besides back at you.
 With added input from former peddlers, Kris Meeke and Tommi Mäkinen, Gazoo Racing rally boss, Jari-Matti Latvala and 2019 champion, Ott Tänak.
 Parking sensors, sat-nav, etc.
8 thoughts on “G16E-GTS”
Good morning, Andrew. In this version the styling makes sense, to my eyes at least. I haven’t seen one in the flesh and it will be a rare thing over here, at nearly € 55k. I didn’t expect to have it bigger brakes than the Supra.
One small wordt of criticism: Surely by Rohl standards, you mean Röhrl standards.
Ah, Freerk, you found an incorrect pace note, there. Good job it wasn’t a 6th gear flat out section! Duly altered.
€55k does sound an awfully large amount of money for such a thing but the enthusiast will argue at what you’re getting for that outlay. I’ve seen more of these than the everyday Yaris. They do stand out, not just for the exhaust note but looks. The GR is a real head turner.
No worries, Andrew. I’m sure mister Röhrl drives way too fast to care about the spelling of his name. Yes, € 55k is a lot of money. It’s mainly because of the BPM tax which is based on CO2 emissions, that comes on top of the base price and VAT. In Belgium they don’t have the BPM and I think prices start under € 40k.
Good morning Andrew. When I saw the photos, I thought exactly the same as Freerk, that the styling makes much more sense on this ‘hot’ version. The front end is an improvement too, still a bit busy, but less gormless and gopping than the stand car. The rest is actually not bad, but I suspect it would be exhausting to own as an everyday driver, all highly-strung and full of nervous energy!
Good morning Andrew. I still don’t like the front but the rest seems to make more “sense” with all the kit you have described. Very expensive and that’s without the added cost of fuel and tyres either. I haven’t seen one yet but will probably hear it first. Just going to check how it measures up to the Fiat Abarth 500 which I have seen plenty of around where I live recently.
Good morning Andrew
I was lucky enough to recently test drive a GR Yaris on open roads.
Once on the twisty ones, my permanent feeling was the little rocket continouosly saying to me: “You could have done it a bit faster!”, because at what I considered excesive pace on public roads, the GR Yaris was far from its limits.
It used to be Renault that built the insane versions of their city runabout:
The 205 T16 counts as well, although I think the production run was a lot smaller than for the Renaults.
Toyota itself did a sort of practice run with the previous generation, the Yaris GRMN:
Sold out almost before it was officially announced.
Incredibly, someone near where I live owns one, in red. It’s on the driveway, so I’m shy about taking a picture. The first time I noticed it, bystanders were looking my way because of the scraping sound my jaw was making while dragging on the floor.
One simply has to salute the effort from Toyota. It’s a category of car I really like. The only modern car that comes close is the already-mentioned Abarth 5oo (which used to be parked close by the Yaris GR near where I live).
Of course, the classic Abarths based on the 500 and 600 are the daddies of the segment:
The front styling is indeed too busy… but I still want one.