2021 Toyota GR Yaris [UK]

2021 Toyota GR Yaris [UK]

2021 Toyota GR Yaris [UK]

2021 Toyota GR Yaris [UK]

2021 Toyota GR Yaris [UK]

2021 Toyota GR Yaris [UK]

When Toyota announced its return to the World Rally Championship in 2015, the concept of building a rally-inspired sports car was part of the plan. The vision was to take technical knowledge and experience from the highest level of international competition and apply them to a new road car that is also suitable for competition driving, and an affordable proposition for customers.

For Toyota President Akio Toyoda, the creation of a sports car made purely by Toyota - the first in 20 years - was a personal ambition. Following on from winning the WRC manufacturers' championship in 2018, he saw a winning car as being key to achieving global recognition as a true auto manufacturer.

The GR Yaris is that car, built from scratch and designed to win at highest levels. It is Toyota's second global GR model, following the successful launch of the GR Supra in 2018.

There were basic challenges to be met in terms of technical know-how and creating a car that customers would buy. From the outset, the development team worked closely with Tommi Mäkinen Racing to better understand how their goals could be achieved. It was a detailed and labour-intensive process, but one which has yielded strong results in terms of a car that has an ideal combination of rigid, lightweight construction, an agile and responsive chassis and a powerful yet compact turbo engine.

Professional rally drivers, including members of TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team, drove the prototype models and provided valuable feedback. Testing was also carried out by Akio Toyoda in his expert role as a Toyota Master Driver.

Exterior design

The GR Yaris' packaging has been developed by pushing the limits of performance, with close consultation between the design team and colleagues at Tommi Mäkinen Racing, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing's World Rally Championship partner.

Although the new Yaris hatchback is the base vehicle for the new model, the only unchanged exterior parts are the headlights, door mirrors, rear light clusters and the shark fin antenna on the roof. Everything else has been redesigned or adapted to meet the targets for downforce, aerodynamic performance and stability.

Overall length is 3,995 mm, 55 mm greater than the standard Yaris, with the wheelbase unchanged at 2,560 mm. The redesigned front and rear increase the overhangs by 40 and 15 mm respectively. Overall width is 1,805 mm (+60 mm) and overall height 1,455 mm (-45 mm)

The principal change is the move from a five-door to a three-door body. The GR Yaris is the only model in the new Yaris range to use this format, appropriate for WRC competition where the regulations stipulate no changes may be made or aerodynamic elements added to the doors.

The requirement to maximise downforce and aerodynamic performance resulted in a lowering of the car's roof line, by up to 95 mm at its rearmost point compared to the standard hatchback. The revised profile increases the volume of air flow hitting the spoiler mounted on top of the rally car back door, generating extra downforce. Following the aerodynamic performance of the competition car, the design of the lower body directs air flow from the front wheel housing close along the side of the vehicle.

The front of the car projects a strong sense of purpose featuring the signature GR "functional matrix" design. Cooling air is fed to the radiator, intercooler and engine compartment through a large, rectangular lower grille with a wide honeycomb mesh. The prominent spoiler has a downforce-generating shape, with a raised centre section that controls the flow of air beneath the vehicle. There are also deep upper and lower lips at each corner that act as canards, generating downforce when driving through bends. The grille is flanked by large vertical inlets for the brake duct and intercooler, with circular LED fog lights positioned at the far edges of the bumper unit. Discreet GR badging is featured on the lower grille, the front wings and back door, alongside the right-hand LED light cluster.

At the rear, the tapering of the roof and rear pillars and the addition of the deep, high-mounted spoiler, enhance downforce and aerodynamic performance. The wide track and flaring of the rear wings emphasise the car's wide and low silhouette. The rear wings have a flat side surface and minimised corner radius, which smooth the flow of air away from the vehicle and reduce drag. Aerodynamic performance is also improved by shape of the rear diffuser (the aero step) being folded into the bumper unit.

Equal attention has been paid to under-car aerodynamics with an engine under-cover, left and right-side floor under-covers and spats in front of each wheel.

GR Yaris is available in four paint finishes that match TOYOTA GAZOO Racing's competition colours: Super White as standard and optional White Pearl, Emotional Red and Precious Black.

Interior design

The design of the GR Yaris' interior reflects the car's performance, particularly around the driver's cockpit.

The binnacle has the same binocular arrangement as the standard Yaris but with additional functions related to the car's specific performance qualities. The 4.2-inch TFT colour multi-information display adds an all-wheel drive indicator showing the torque distribution and mode selected for the GR-FOUR system and a turbo pressure monitor. The analogue meters have white figures with red pointers for high, at-a-glance visibility.

The gear shift lever has a high position on the centre console, raised by 50 mm and set close to the steering wheel, helping the driver make quick shifts. The action is light with short shift strokes, adding to the performance quality. The GR Yaris has a mechanical hand-operated parking brake, which the driver can use for cornering in rally stage driving. This is made possible by a specific function of the GR-FOUR coupling system which fully opens the coupling when the handbrake is used.

The GR-FOUR selector control is set just forward of the gear shift, for easy changes between Normal, Sport and Track modes.

The interior is finished in black with Smoke Silver trim details around the door handles, centre console, steering wheel and side air vents.

The luggage compartment has a 174-litre capacity. With the rear seatbacks folded, there is space enough to carry a set of four large tyres or a bicycle. With the accessory battery housed beneath the deck board, the GR Yaris comes with a tyre repair kit in place of a spare wheel.


The fundamental requirement for the GR Yaris's engine was a sports unit that would deliver outstanding, powerful acceleration and exhilarating sense of continuous power, in keeping with the car's "GR" designation. The result is a new, in-line three-cylinder engine with a versatile quality that makes it comfortable for day-to-day driving as well as competition performance.

The 1,618 cm3 12-valve engine meets the World Rally Championship's Rally 2 (formerly R5) regulations, following Toyota's negotiations with the sport's governing body to allow a three-cylinder format. Atsunori Kumagaya, who led the development project, explained: "We preferred this engine due to its light weight and compact size making it simple to install, while the lack of exhaust gas interference made it easier to obtain power."

The unit is in fact the largest-capacity and most powerful three-cylinder engine currently in production, yet it is also the smallest and lightest 1.6 turbo unit. Its maximum power output is 261 DIN hp/192 kW at 6,500 rpm, with maximum torque of 360 Nm delivered from 3,000 to 4,600 rpm - performance on a par with that of a 2.0-litre turbo unit.

GR Yaris is as light as a B-segment hot hatch (kerb weight 1,280 kg), yet the power is comparable to C-segment performance models. Acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h can be accomplished in 5.5 seconds, while the top speed is electronically limited to 230 km/h.

With a focus on power and light weight, the GR Yaris achieves an exceptional weight-to-power ratio of 4.9 kg per DIN hp. The car's body-in-white weight is 12% less than the new generation Yaris, thanks to the use of lightweight materials in its construction, including aluminium for the bonnet and doors and carbon fibre composite for the roof (further details above). Compared to the standard Yaris, the engine is positioned 21 mm further back in the compartment, contributing to the car's weight distribution, dynamic balance and low centre of gravity.

The development team drew on the knowledge and experience of their TOYOTA GAZOO Racing colleagues to maximise the engine's potential, adopting a number of motorsports-derived technologies to help them meet their goals. These include a ball-bearing turbocharger, large-diameter exhaust valves and multi-jet oil piston cooling.


Toyota recognised from the start of the model's development that a new, low-volume sports car production system would be required for the GR Yaris. The car is built exclusively at a new TOYOTA GAZOO Racing production facility, created within Toyota's Motomachi plant in Japan.

The production line comprises a series of individual assembly cells, connected by automatic guided vehicles (AGVs) rather than the conveyors featured in conventional car plants. This fully flexible method of working, with many manual assembly techniques, enables precise body and suspension alignment, with variations in vehicle dimensions and weight kept to a minimum. The high degree of accuracy and the crafting the GR Yaris' highly rigid body, would be more challenging to achieve on a standard, high-volume production line.

True to its commitment to people development, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing has brought together highly skilled technicians from throughout the company, team members who are renowned for their exceptional abilities and attention to detail. They will contribute to the craftsmanship and technical skills training the GR factory will provide for workers at other Toyota facilities.

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