Group B revival, bombinette, finally sport… Yes, good. Ambroise already said it all in his flash essay a few weeks ago. It will be difficult to add anything. Unless…
With Ambroise, we have known each other for almost 20 years (yes, cushy, that does not make us younger). We then pulled the fluff in Mx5 on the tracks of the northern half of France. Ah, this arsouille in Croix en Ternois, an unforgettable memory!
So obviously, when Monsieur gives his opinion on a car, I know that there is substance. His steering is recognized and I cannot claim to be more efficient than him (or not by much then). So if Ambroise says the Yaris GR is a good and nice car, I wouldn’t be contradicting him. But we have to find things to say anyway. It’s true, I have the little sporty Toyota available for a few days, it’s not just to stay parked in my driveway.
So let’s go free. Ambroise chose to try the Yaris GR on mountain roads (lucky!), I’m going to do a radically different test: I’m going to play the VRP!
It is noon when I arrive at the headquarters of Toyota France on this Friday in January. The temperature is fairly mild (around 5 ° C) and the soil is dry. Time to park my Mazda Mx5 in the visitor parking lot and here I am at the wheel of the Yaris which thrills all motorsport enthusiasts. The car looks good, no doubt. She gives off something animal. Slightly oversized. If Ambroise evoked group B, it reminds me of the Lancia Delta Integrale. From the large series, optimized for racing but despite everything still relatively civilized. And indeed the handling is very easy. On the other hand, that the seat is high! So yes, used to my little roadster, necessarily the least club chair seems high. But this is really a stool! at the first red light I do not find looking down on the driver of the Auris in the next line. Well, we’ll have to get used to it. Other than that, the controls are pretty well laid out and I can easily find my marks behind the wheel. And whatever the test has in store for me, I can only rejoice that a manufacturer still dares a manual gearbox on a sports car. Even electronic aids are easy to handle. Fortunately that said because I quickly had enough of all his assistants beeping and trying to regain control of the steering wheel as soon as we brush a line on the road.
Chance of the calendar, it is precisely the weekend when I have to go get 4 wheels for my beloved Poussinette. From Saturday morning, head for Reims! 200 km of highway. Not necessarily the pseudo-WRC’s favorite playground. Against all expectations, the Yaris GR nevertheless fulfills this thankless task with honor. Driving comfort is, let’s face it, pretty good. The suspension filters the road well, the seat is comfortable and I quit the 2 hours of driving without any fatigue. Except for the ears.
Indeed, if the engine noise (even virtually amplified) is rather gratifying at full load, it is intrusive and unflattering at steady speed. Its “flac flac flac” evokes those playing cards that I used to fix as a child with a clothespin to the frame of my bicycle so that they click in the shelves. Arrived at destination, despite everything, I allow myself a little tour in the vineyards towards Chatillon sur Marne, just to get an idea of the playful character of the beast. No surprise, as Ambroise said, the Yaris is unfazed on this kind of troubled terrain.
When you get to your destination, you just have to load the 4 wheels. The folding bench allows you to exercise easily. There would be almost enough room left to fetch a few boxes of sparkling wine… But time is running out, unfortunately we have to go back to Paris.
The 200km return confirms the quality of the comfort. No excessive fatigue after half a day at the wheel on a long straight asphalt. Arrived in the Paris region, the traffic jams are also easily absorbed. The Yaris plays with traffic like its more reasonable little sisters.
Well, the motorway test is funny for a while, however it is not the primary vocation of the GR. And even if Ambroise did the job to explain the qualities of the Toyota on small rally roads, I was not going to resist taking the little red on my usual roads deep in the Yvelines. Under these conditions, when it comes to alternating sequences of acceleration and braking, the engine becomes frankly sympathetic. Its sound is reminiscent of a full load turbine. It is not really harmonious but definitely expressive. And the frank thrust completely makes you forget that there are only 3 cylinders under the hood.
The chassis in turn has the classic attributes of a 4-wheel drive. With nearly 1,300kg to move, it’s hard to really consider the Yaris as a light car. That said, a latest generation Fiesta ST does not weigh drastically less, without offering 4-wheel drive. Either way, the weight is still felt on the Toyota. The car, without being clumsy, is not particularly agile. But what it loses in agility it gains in stability. Remaining in all circumstances easy and considerate. It is particularly appreciable in the big curves and the sequences.
Conversely, in tight, the front axle tends to widen the trajectory. I’m not very used to four-wheel drive so there is definitely a way to get more out of the car than I have managed to do with it. However, in everyday life, it is of course on the tight that we have the most opportunities to have fun. In a roundabout, for example, a Fiesta is easy to provoke to generate a fun oversteer. The Yaris will be neutral at best (but with a passage speed certainly higher than the Ford), at worst, in normal mode, very understeer.
But apart from roundabouts and hairpins, the Toyota Yaris GR is worthy of its racing heritage: efficient and fast. Fun? In a way, yes. 261hp in a small sports car, there is always a way to get pleasure from it. However on the open road the Yaris suffers like many of its competitors from an efficiency too important to be able to be pushed to the limit without ulterior motive. With more time behind the wheel, however, it will be possible to feel comfortable enough to play with your balance. It is in any case the feeling that I keep from this test: the Yaris GR is a car which tames slowly.
The Yaris GR fulfills the contract: fast, efficient, spectacular in its look and, despite all this, fully usable on a daily basis. The different driving modes will require some acclimatization time for future buyers, but this will certainly make the car interesting longer. If there was a criticism to address to her, it would be maybe just too civilized for a girl in the rally. But the time no longer allows manufacturers to put on the road cars with a reputation too sulphurous. As a result, the Yaris is easy despite its impressive performance. Nothing to complain about though. Quite the contrary! That Toyota is able to offer a third sports car in its range (with the Supra and the GT86) is excellent news. Especially since each of them has its own personality.