Toyota has completely nailed it with the Gazoo Racing (GR) model of the Yaris

This not just a few advertising and marketing try at making a scorching hatch out of a daily manufacturing automobile; it is a facet mission commissioned from the massive boss at Toyota, through which engineers had been unleashed to go all-out and create an outstanding little bundle for WRC homologation functions.

The result’s one thing like we haven’t seen in years. The GR Yaris would possibly be based mostly on Toyota’s staple small automobile, however there are such a lot of modifications and additions beneath the pores and skin that you just shortly understand the 25,000 examples Toyota must promote to fulfill these homologation necessities received’t make any cash for the corporate.

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It’s often enjoyable and particular automobiles that find yourself being unprofitable, however who cares? We aren’t right here to speak about funds; we’re right here to get behind the wheel and for this I actually need to provide large due to the parents at HKS for making it occur with their very own R&D automobile. This allowed me to drive the GR Yaris lengthy earlier than I might get my arms on one of many automobiles in Toyota Japan’s press fleet.

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That is additionally the explanation why you’re seeing the 3-door, 3-cylinder, turbo, AWD rocket in opposition to the gorgeous backdrop of Mt. Fuji. Sure, HKS’s HQ couldn’t be located in a extra iconic Japanese spot.

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Talking of 3-doors, that is the very first thing you discover in regards to the GR Yaris. The common Yaris is just out there as a 5-door, so you know the way critical Gazoo Racing was about creating a real efficiency machine.

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On prime of the visibly pumped entrance and rear wheel arches, the roof was additionally lowered a little bit. Suppose in regards to the price wanted to try this on a modern-day manufacturing automobile…

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It doesn’t finish there, as a result of the roof pores and skin is definitely carbon fiber, or moderately CFRP made utilizing compounded sheet moulding. For some odd purpose although, it’s been coated up with carbon fiber-look vinyl. You’ll have the ability to see what it actually appears to be like like beneath in one other function I’ve arising.

Different weight-shedding measures embrace an aluminum hood, rear hatch and doorways, which all mixed set the curb weight at 1,280kg. Then there’s the work that has gone into adapting the bespoke chassis across the new GR-4 AWD driveline, and making all of it as inflexible as potential. For suspension, Toyota refined the bottom Yaris’s McPherson structure up entrance, however threw away the complete rear setup for a totally unbiased double wishbone association.

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Add in that truth that Toyota developed a brand new turbocharged engine and guide transmission particularly for the GR Yaris, and it boggles the thoughts that they went forward with the automobile in any respect.

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It actually reads like a want record from some rally fanatic about what his dream street-going homologation particular could be like. It is a automobile that in 2020 has virtually no proper current.

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It’s so bonkers to suppose that Toyota of all firms got here up with it too. Up till a decade in the past, this was a producer we used to brush off as being overly boring and profit-focused.

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And with all automotive narrative nowadays being round electrification, sustainability, autonomous driving and grilles (wink-wink, BMW), the GR Yaris proves that ‘inexpensive’ enjoyable automobiles aren’t going away, or no less than they can coexist on this push for a future the place all enjoyable on 4 wheels will finish.

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So it brings me a lot pleasure to dive into the superb G16E-GTS, the world’s strongest 3-cylinder engine. Due to direct port (and regular) gas injection, a 10.5:1 compression ratio, multi-oil-jet piston cooling, and a single-scroll turbocharger, the little 3-pot develops 200kW (272PS) and 370Nm of torque between 3,000 and 4,600rpm. These are numbers near what an RB26DETT in inventory type used to place out in its day.

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That is mated to a 6-speed guide transmission which sends drive to all 4 wheels by the GR-4 AWD system, which is the primary performance-oriented four-wheel drive system Toyota has developed because the Celica GT-4. It splits torque entrance to rear through a multi-clutch pack, which permits the motive force to pick out the precise break up through the 3-mode rotary dial within the cabin.

The non-obligatory ‘Excessive Efficiency’ bundle provides Torsen LSDs entrance and rear, in addition to bigger and stronger monoblock brake calipers and floating two-piece rotors. All of this for a worth of ¥4.5 million, which is roughly US$43,000.

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HKS haven’t had the automobile for far more than a week they usually’ve already developed and accomplished the primary cat-back Legamax Premium exhaust, which is designed to emphasise the sound of the inventory motor giving it a deeper growl and lesser again strain. And because the title suggests, it’s all authorized for highway use right here in Japan. There’s a extra excessive system following up subsequent month.

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Apart from that, this automobile stays completely inventory with simply 500km on the odometer.

This the RZ model which does away with the Torsen diffs and the GR braking equipment of the Excessive Efficiency bundle, so it runs open diffs and the marginally much less track-focused brakes. HKS selected this as the premise for his or her road automobile growth bundle as they are going to find yourself placing aftermarket components on the automobile anyway.

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I simply can’t categorical how a lot I just like the compact dimensions of the automobile and the aggressive stance it has with these wide-set shoulders. Look intently, nevertheless, and you’ll discover that the wheelbase is fairly lengthy. The wheels sit on the extremities of the chassis, leading to minimal overhangs.

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So how is it inside?

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Properly, that is the place issues really feel a little bit bit extra regular.

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The driving place is way from sporty; you sit excessive and barely upright as you’d within the regular Yaris. This side was by no means going to vary tremendously over the common mannequin, so don’t really feel upset for those who sit in a GR Yaris and all of it feels a tad like a metropolis automobile. Then once more, all fashionable rally automobiles appear to have these sort of cockpits as they’ve often been based mostly on run-of-the-mill manufacturing fashions too.

That stated, the GR-branded half (fake) leather-based and half Alcantara (like) seats are good and supportive, and really feel excellent in the best way they envelop you. Personally, I believe the motive force’s seat ought to have had extra top adjustment, or moderately the power for it to take a seat far decrease. As it’s, it makes taller drivers really feel manner too excessive, one thing that has plagued Japanese automobiles because the starting of time.

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Don’t anticipate many frills relating to gear and total gadgetry. The analogue instrumentation is only useful, however does profit from a multi-page coloration digital display screen within the middle of the cluster which lets you flick by a number of completely different readouts. I appreciated this one with the increase gauge.

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There’s a middle display screen, however after fiddling round with it I can report there is no such thing as a efficiency shows or something like that. Simply navigation and infotainment, and a gas financial system graph web page which jogged my memory Toyota hasn’t misplaced its contact offering us with boring issues even on their most enjoyable automobiles. So this display screen isn’t one thing you’ll be taking a lot discover of when throwing the GR Yaris round corners.

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Forward of the 6-speed gear shifter is the torque break up selector, which lets you go from 30% entrance and 70% rear in ‘Sport’ to a 40% entrance and 60% rear in ‘Regular’, and at last a 50:50 break up for the ‘Monitor’ setting.

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Oh, and there’s an honest trunk on the again too. Fold the rear seats down and it is possible for you to to throw in a few spare wheels and a few instruments for a enjoyable day on the monitor.

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However how is it to drive? Properly, as soon as I received the pictures facet of issues wrapped up, HKS allowed me to go for a fast hoon round their non-public roads.

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In the event you didn’t know, HKS has a large compound with a community of roads excellent for testing automobiles. I used to be capable of put the little Yaris by some quick second and third gear corners and a pleasant straight to get all the best way as much as the highest of third gear.

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Whereas it might not be a fully-fledged highway take a look at, it was greater than sufficient to emphasise simply how good this bundle is. Proper from the second you get on the ability, you’ll be able to’t assist however really feel linked to the engine and the candy and perfectly-weighted gear change of the gearbox.

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The turn-in is fluid, exact and responsive, and as soon as aggressively thrown right into a nook you may get on the ability arduous and let that rush of torque pull you out into lengthy straights, which it simply appears to eat up. The engine doesn’t sound like a 3-cylinder; it’s positively off-beat however has the aural high quality of a 5-cylinder and the low frequencies of a Volkswagen W8. It’s bizarre however refreshingly so, and by no means does it make you’re feeling brief modified.

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The ability and torque is plentiful, and the chassis and dealing with appear to enhance one another superbly. It’s a sublimely-developed automobile; it’s enjoyable from the primary time you flip the wheel and it makes you reminisce again to an period when loads of automobiles felt like this.

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It’s been a really very long time since I’ve pushed one thing so satisfying, however this automobile hits the spot on so many ranges that Toyota should actually be praised for permitting Gazoo Racing to make it a actuality. I actually do hope different producers take discover as nicely, as a result of we’d like extra of this.

The brand new GR Supra is nice, however the GR Yaris is nice. So for me, the solely single unfavourable side right here is that I don’t have one in my driveway.

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