This new high-performance Yaris will serve as the basis for the next rally Toyota. It will also pursue the reconquest of a sporting image …
In the early 90s, Toyota had a strong sporting image. The Celica GT-4 was the spearhead and the Japanese manufacturer dominated the world rally championship, with three world titles won in 92, 93 and 94. Twenty-five years later there is not much left of this sporty image, Toyota having focused on the hybrid. And yet, for the past few years, Toyota has been the generalist manufacturer most involved in competition: drivers' title in the world rally championship with Ott Tänak, two victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, triumph at the last Dakar… the “new” president of the Toyota Motor Corporartion, Akio Toyoda, who wishes to enhance the sporting crest of his brand. The Supra coupe was the first stone. With this Yaris GR-4, we go a step further…
From road racing
The car is the basis of the one that will compete in the WRC championship in 2021. However to obtain the homologation for the world rally, it is necessary to produce 25,000 units of the entered car. As long as it needs to be done, Toyota decided to work on a competition version first, before deciding on a model for the general public. Like Lancia did with the Delta back then, and Mitsubishi with the Lancer Evo. The car we discovered won't go into production until August, which is why it was camouflaged both indoors and out. But there are only details to be worked out, even if the engineers wanted to keep some data still secret for now. First observation: the Yaris GR-4 is a three-door, and the rear tracks are wider than the front tracks, enough to optimize stability and traction. The designers also shed weight. The roof is made of carbon, the sides and the hood made of aluminum. The Yaris GR-4 thus weighs 1,250 kg. The engine is also brand new, a 1.600cc, 3 cylinder, turbo. It is the lightest and most compact on the market, explains Naohiko Saito, chief engineer of this GR-4, who also says that the engine develops "at least 250 horsepower and 350 Nm of torque". We will not know more, except that the car is a four-wheel drive, and that it has three driving modes: Normal which favors traction (60% of the torque on the front wheels), Sport which transforms it into propulsion (70% power on the rear), and finally Track, with a front-rear distribution of 50/50.
It was in Portugal that we tested this supercharged Yaris, during a test drive followed by a few laps on the Estoril circuit. The road trip allows us first to assess the car as it will be on a daily basis. The equipment is complete, including GPS, voice commands, emergency braking assistance and even reading road signs. The Yaris GR-4 is also very lively, particularly well balanced and even comfortable. A treat to drive, but consumption rises quickly: 9.6l / 100km when you arrive at the circuit. There, we are allowed to push the little sportswoman to her last entrenchments. We start in Track mode, 50% torque on the front, 50% on the rear. The accelerations are not violent but the passages in curves are very fast. The car is nicely derived from four wheels, its behavior is very healthy and, better still, it is rather tolerant and easy to control. In Sport mode, actually propulsion type, the Yaris becomes more delicate and, logically, the oversteer is accentuated. But it keeps a nice homogeneity with a very playful and finally reassuring character, unlike the cons which has something frightening: in these extreme conditions, it goes up to … 18.3l / 100km!
Both for the race and for the consumer version, Toyota has a solid base here, with good performance and impressive behavior. With the Yaris GR-4, Toyota reminds the world that it can make sports cars!
The Toyota Yaris GR-4 in a few figures
Engine: 3 cyl., Petrol, turbo, 1.600cc; 250hp; 350 Nm.
Transmission: to 4 wheels.
Transmission: 6-speed manual.
Empty weight (kg): 1.250
Tank (l): 50.
Price: +/- 35,000 € incl. VAT
Power: 250 ch
V-max: 250 km / h
Cons. average test: 9.6 l / 100km