Home/News/Japanese cars/GR Yaris gets WRC driver endorsement | Update

GR Yaris gets WRC driver endorsement | Update

Homologation special is due for reveal at Tokyo next month - but the video-based build-up continues

By Dafydd Wood / Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Clearly still afflicted by the marketing bug which saw Toyota pursue the longest campaign of sneak peeks, teasers, leaks and spy shots in living memory for its new Supra, the Japanese manufacturer has released yet another video of its upcoming GR Yaris.

Now known by that name, rather than the Yaris GR-4 moniker attached to the concept, the video depicts 2019 WRC winner Ott Tanak, Kris Meeke, Jari-Matti Latavala and team principal/ rally legend Tommi Makinen behind the wheel of the pre-production machine. And while the video itself is pretty tame and the drivers' impressions are limited to one sound bite each - simply "Exciting." in the case of Makinen - there's plenty to be intrigued by when it comes to the car itself.

That's because, while modern WRC regulations mean that competition cars can bear far less resemblance to their road-going counterparts than they once did, a degree of uniformity is still required. And word that Toyota has been willing to push its 2020 entrant beyond these constraints in the pursuit of Hyundai's manufacturer's crown means that a Yaris closer in specification to the rally car will need to be produced, and produced in serious numbers.

The car shown here, then, which is set to debut on January 10th at the Tokyo Auto Salon, ought not to be a limited-run special like the 600 Yaris GRMNs sold last year. Instead over 25,000 examples of the all-wheel-drive hot hatch will need to find their way off the production line in order to validate its WRC sibling, making the GR Yaris a true homologation machine. Exciting indeed, Tommi.


UPDATE - 04.12.19

If the thought of a slightly manic, WRC-homologated supermini got you all excited about Toyota's new go-faster Yaris last month, then prepare yourself for the manufacturer's latest teaser video. Forget about Morizo's voiceover or even the distinctly rorty exhaust note (three-cylinders? Four?) it's all about the spirited pull away on sand 16 seconds in - a pull away that virtually confirms the presence of four-wheel-drive under the GR-4's newly flared arches.

The installation of a driven rear axle is good for two reasons. One, because very small performances cars with all-wheel-drive are rare, and usually very good. Two, because it shows that Toyota - a firm with a storied history of overcoming technical hurdles when the mood takes it - has most likely put its back into making the GR-4 proper. And if that has happened, it's fair to assume that the new Yaris is going to be worth the wait.

Word on the internet grapevine (and despite all the 'final test' malarky) suggested the car was all set for its debut at Rally Australia - only to be foiled when the event was cancelled. Chances are then that it won't be very long before we get to mull over the full details. If further speculation is accurate, the GR-4 will be a proper range constituent and not just a low volume special, as the GRMN was. That doesn't mean it'll be affordable, of course. But we'd settle for attainable. And awesome.


We were big fans of Toyota's Yaris GRMN when we drove it nearly two years ago; the lively, engaging hatch proving that the best things can still come in small packages. Only 100 of the limited 600-car production run made it to UK shores, though, meaning that even if buyers could justify the £26,295 asking price, they still weren't guaranteed to get their hands on one.

Now, however, Toyota has officially unveiled a successor for the first time, a post on Twitter teasing Gazoo Racing's latest Yaris project. Having previously hinted that future GR products would be more closely related to the outfit's racing endeavours, the new car is set to be revealed in just 10 days' time. The venue? Rally Australia.

That's an exciting sign for those hoping for a genuine, competition-inspired model. As is the 'GR-4' title which accompanies the teaser - possibly alluding to the presence of a WRC-aping all-wheel drive set-up. In the absence of any concrete details the aggressive bumpers, flared arches and sporty wheels spied during recent Nurburgring tests are the only indication of the potential performance on offer - Toyota hopefully knowing better than to opt for style over substance.

We do also have a few choice words from the Executive VP of Toyota Europe, Matt Harrison, who previously told Autocar of the company's "desire to link Yaris to our success in motorsport. On selected vehicles, we will look at a GR derivative, which is differentiated on these grounds - whether that's displacement or whatever."

That opens the door to the possibility of a rally-styled, all-wheel drive model, powered by something more powerful than the standard car's 1.5-litre four-cylinder motor - an enticing prospect indeed if Gazoo's previous form is anything to go by. Hopefully this time there'll be enough for everyone.

Find your next car