It feels like yesterday that the Toyota GR Yaris bounded onto the scene like a 10-week-old puppy and piddled all over the hot hatch floor. With the possible exception of Hyundai, no other manufacturer has come close to replicating the excitement generated by its (sort of) homologated AWD tearaway, and the car has deservedly sold like a Motomachi-built hot cake. But it wasn’t yesterday, it was already three years ago this month that production kicked off, which means that confirmation of a life cycle refresh ought to be rolling around any day now.
Certainly renowned Japanese mag ‘Best Car’ has it on good authority that a facelift is just over the horizon, and alongside some confetti-grade alterations to the front bumper and rear spoiler, the updated model is apparently all set to get 300hp and a newfangled eight-speed auto. Both seem feasible. Certainly, Toyota already knows how to get that amount of power from the same turbocharged 1.6-litre G16E-GTS motor because it introduced the GR Corolla with 300hp just last year, and the car is conveniently assembled in the same plant.
The Corolla isn’t (yet) available with an automatic, but there is form here too; Toyota having already shown a prototype two-pedal GR Yaris at something called the Toyota Gazoo Rally Racing Challenge last year. It freely admitted to hacks attending the event that it was an eight-speed torque converter in development at the time and helpfully pointed out some adjustments made to the bodywork to help with airflow to a new gearbox oil cooler. Toyota being Toyota, it then took said test mule rallying to study its durability.
Do we desperately want an automatic GR Yaris? Not desperately. But we’re very keen for Toyota to keep spending time and money on its hot hatch because we’d like it to be on sale for as long as possible. If paddle shifters and a new digital instrument cluster (also rumoured) are what’s required to make a wider business case for an updated version, then so be it. Expect other minor improvements befitting Toyota’s penchant for the finer details. And if Best Car is on the money, expect to hear confirmation of the new model’s existence by the end of the year.
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